The first game released by the Behemoth (better known for their later hit, Castle Crashers), Alien Hominid HD is a visually touched-up version of their Gamecube/PS2/Xbox conversion of what was once a Flash game.
Alien Hominid is a 2D side-scroller. The plot is straightforward: you are an awesome alien who is shot down and crashes into earth. Your ship is stolen, you must get it back, shooting, slicing, and biting your way to victory.
The main game is 16 levels spread over three chapters. In addition, it comes with seven mini-games. Two players can locally play the main campaign, and some of the mini-games support up to four players via Xbox Live.
Now, to the meat & taters of the review:
This is definitely the shiniest version of Alien Hominid. The game benefits from its HD make-over, and fans Dan Paladin's art style are going to have a blast with the various characters and enemies he drew. However, a lot of the background scenery is forgettable and not worth a second glance. This doesn't hurt game-play, but with so many games that even make stunning backgrounds (for those that choose to examine them), this one ends up being pretty average on that score.
Audio works well for Alien Hominid. I found the music catchy without ever becoming annoying, and the sound effects for the weapons work well (in an arcade style rather than taking a realist approach). For me, audio that doesn't call attention to itself is good audio, and Alien Hominid pulls that off.
I think nothing kills a 2D-scroller like bad control design. Alien Hominid HD thankfully avoids a bad control setup, but it also isn't much improved upon the average structure. Buttons for jumping and attacking are laid out well enough, though some of the moves felt a bit uncomfortable to my hands to execute. By-and-large this wasn't a huge deal...Alien Hominid is not a platformer so one doesn't need super precision. However, anything that requires a lot of repeating (or is needed during critical game spots, such as boss fights), should feel smooth and fluid.
My biggest control gripes would be trying to jump while charging the weapon for a super blast, and using the crouch mechanic from an elevated position. The former can be done but felt clumsy to me, so much so that generally if I had to jump I didn't bother trying to charge my gun. As to the latter, the problem is crouching and pushing the jump button results in jumping down from your elevated position. This is fine, unless you need to stay up top and jump over something. This was mainly a minor annoyance, till the final boss fight, where a wrong jump would have fatal results. The bottom-line is a boss fight should never be hard just because the controls stink.
Alien-crashes-and-must-retrieve-spaceship. It's not a bad story, and it's not a good story. It's an average story that serves the game well enough without being noteworthy in its own right.
Replay Value (5/10)
The game is very difficult. One hit kills the Alien (except on Easy, where you get a one-hit shield so you actually die on the second glorious shot). As such, this is very traditional in its challenge rating. However, any level you clear you may start from in the future, on any difficulty setting. Given this, even the Win on X Difficulty achievements are straightforward and require very little time investment.
Some of the other achievements will take a bit longer (or a lot if one has trouble completing some of the skill-based ones), but almost all of them are simplified by playing in particular levels and so little full replay need is achieved through that. I'd say collecting all the hats probably does the best job at upping the replay value.
The saving grace for Alien Hominid HD comes from the PDA games (the mini games). Those do provide a replay outlet of sorts, so those bored and done with the main story but wanting to enjoy the artwork do have another venue. Overall, though, I'd say this is pretty average in the replay department (something they improved on greatly for Castle Crashers, but that's another review).
"Fun" Factor (7/10)
Despite the replay and control issues I noted, I think this game ranks pretty high in the fun department. I was afraid this would have been too difficult for me to get into, but with the ability to start from any level you cleared, even someone like me was able to make visible progress at a reasonable pace. The Alien itself is just a fun sort of creature. You do fairly horrific kills, but the context is humorous, as if even the very destructive force of the Alien is channeled into some form of...cuteness. Even though I've beaten the game and have all the achievements, sometimes I find myself going back to the story and replaying a couple levels with some of the more interesting bosses, either to experience those particular fight gimmicks again or just to enjoy the art.
Overall score average: 6.0
Score-to-Star Translation Guide:
5 stars: 9.01 to 10 (out of 10)
4.5 stars: 8.01 to 9
4 stars: 7.01 to 8
3.5 stars: 6.01 to 7
3 stars: 5.01 to 6
2.5 stars: 4.01 to 5
2 stars: 3.01 to 4
1.5 stars: 2.01 to 3
1 star: 1.01 to 2
0.5 stars: 0 to 1