Aliens are attacking several idyllic locales on Earth, and it’s your job to fend off the attack. Not only are you charged with blasting the aliens themselves out of the sky, but you must intercept as much of their incoming fire as possible before it hits targets on the ground. If you save the various trees and cars and castles and trains and boats and whatnot, not only have you earned the gratitude of the human race, you get big bonus points too, and we all know which is more important. Your highly maneuverable ship is equipped with shields which allow you to absorb the impact of collisions with the alien ships, as well as protecting you from direct hits from their weapons. But each hit and collision takes a significant chunk out of your shields. You can replenish them with power-ups left behind by fallen aliens, but when your shields run out and your ship takes another hit, your alien-killing days are over. (Soren Gust [published by Packrat Video Games], 2004)
Memories: Let me go back and read that again. Shields and power-ups and scores into the thousands? Did I just write that about an Odyssey2 game? Yes. Yes, I did. Five years in the making, Kill The Attacking Aliens (a.k.a. KTAA) is one of those projects that demonstrates everything that is good about homebrew games for classic consoles. It’s fun, it’s lightning fast, it’s not a clone or a hack of a previously released game, it boasts features that nobody knew the hardware could pull off, and it revitalizes and energizes that console’s whole library. Some of the things KTAA does would’ve been great as a mere technical demonstration of the Odyssey2 and the Videopac G7400+ (the European equivalent of the unreleased Odyssey3), but the fact that it’s also a great game makes it even better. The unlikely targets and locales in the game’s multiple scenes are the result of some inspired abuse of the Odyssey’s fixed character set, and even the aliens themselves are strikingly unusual sights on the Odyssey.
The game play is fast and furious, and is a combination of elements from Missile Command (intercepting enemy fire before it hits a series of targets on the bottom of the screen) and Defender‘s lateral alien-chasing/alien-evading action. There’s even an echo of the Odyssey2’s own UFO! in the use of shields – you’ll probably wind up doing the noble thing and biting a few incoming bullets with your own ship, but you’ll be noble and dead pretty soon if you do that too much. Sticking close to the bottom of the screen to intercept incoming fire would seem to be the prudent thing to do, but wiping out the aliens themselves practically demands a higher altitude. At times, that torn-between-defense-and-offense element of strategy gives KTAA the feel of Robotron.
The power-ups are unprecedented in Odyssey2 history, and they’re a huge part of the game’s appeal. A floating “S” boosts your shields, “F” gives you rapid-fire weapons, and an “A” slows down the aliens and their ammunition for a while. F + A = a very good thing in this game, and can quickly turn the tide even if you’re having a lousy round.
This is fast-paced, frenetic fun at its best – had it been a product of the pre-crash 80s, KTAA surely would’ve been one of those unique cream-of-the-crop titles, like K.C. Munchkin, Pick Axe Pete and War Of Nerves, that even non-Odyssey2 owners would remember with fondness. As it is, it’s a marvelously-written homebrew that’s here to remind us that this console was capable of playing some damn good games – and Kill The Attacking Aliens is definitely one of them.