It’s 20XX. Earth is being attacked by Murvania, and you need to be bad enough to put a stop to this nonsense. As part of the ‘ALIEN EXTERMINATION FORCE’, your sunglasses-adorned agent is armed with a seemingly endless number of guns. With a hop down from the top platform, you take off to put an end to the alien menace.
AlienVania X is a remake of a Game-Boy-style game originally made for the Game Boy 5 Jam. It owes a lot of its style to the Game Boy games of yesteryear and, as the title also suggests, falls into the Metroid-style platformer category, but I’d much rather say it’s closer to a Mega Man game than anything.
The first thing that strikes you is the excellent, pumping soundtrack provided by @Replay_50101, which will instantly get you into the mood to blast some baddies. The environments take you from inside buildings into the sewers and deep underground. They are quite varied, but still connected to one another as if it was one sprawling city block. Controls are genre typical — with movement, jump, shoot and weapon-switch keys/buttons — and you can play with either a keyboard or a controller.
AlienVania X’s pixel art is top notch (especially in this remake, as the original game was intended to emulate the limitations of the Game Boy, after all) and really feels right at home with the hard but fair gameplay of learning both enemy patterns and what weapon best fits the situation. The number of guns available is astonishing, as there seem to be several variations of most types, even those as simple as a standard pistol. Collecting the weapons is an arduous task, as they are hidden all over the level and even when you die, you have to find those weapons again to replenish your ammo supply. Conveniently, you get all your weapons back when you die, but if you do, you have to restart the whole level.
I will warn you: this game is not for the faint of heart. It took me several tries to get enough health to survive the boss at the end of the game, but it certainly was worth it. The developers took some extra care and love into creating the ending and even give you some insight into the development of the game. Even after you beat it, you can go back and blast away at any bad guys you skipped along the way, up to a certain point (as there is a ledge drop that you can’t climb back, early in the game), which is a nice feature.
AlienVania X is a great reminder of the late 80s/early 90s and a wonderful tribute to some great games. My favorite weapon was the shotgun, followed shortly by the rocket launcher. I will honestly admit that I was frustrated when I first lost at the boss and had to start over at the beginning, but I could tell it would be worth finishing in the end.
AlienVania X (and the original GB Jam AlienVania) are available for Windows at Itch.io, where it is free to download.