You might remember earlier this year when I shared my discovery of the 1979 Alien Game by Kenner. I was quite surprised to learn of course that a board game had been published for Ridley Scott’s cinematic masterpiece. I would remind you that Alien is certainly a horror movie after all. In addition to the hard R rating the film received and for good reason!
Having said that I will point out that the late seventies and early eighties were a different era. Naturally. So I’m guessing that Kenner was attempting to reach out to those very kids that couldn’t see the movie. They did produce more than a few pieces of merchandising after all, right?
Besides a terrifying 18-inch Xenomorph figure and the film viewer, it was the 1979 Alien game that most interested me. As I have written about on more than a few occasions I consider myself a pretty big fan of board games. It so happened that my co-worker at the Arkadia Retrocade saw my post and found a very affordable copy online. She surprised me with it at the arcade one evening and some of us stayed after work to play the Alien Game.
Furthermore I was delighted to learn that the game hadn’t been used before. Chiefly the player pieces for the Xenomorph and Nostromo crew hadn’t even been punched out.
I will admit to a small feeling of regret at having to alter what was pristine for 38 years. On the other hand the Alien Game was naturally meant to be played and enjoyed. At the very least it is now in the hands of those who will appreciate it the most.
As for the rules of the Alien Game, players attempt to get a single member of their crew from the Nostromo to the escape shuttle. All the while attempting to thwart their fellow players with their personal Xenomorph.
After choosing a colored starting area that matches the color of your playing pieces, you must travel clockwise around the board. I chose LV-426 or Acheron as my starting location, which is of course how April 26th was chosen as the date for Alien Day!
The Xenomorph also travels through the corridors of the doomed Nostromo. In addition to being able to pop up across the board by way of using the air shafts dotted across the board. Which I will point out that I used to great effect on one of my co-worker’s astronauts!
Consequently in the next turn she turned around and used it to greater effect on two of my three crew members. I know that Alien famously said that “In space no one can hear you scream“. I can you assure however that everyone could hear my screams of despair at the arcade.
There are a few safe spots for players to park their astronauts where the Xenomorph cannot reach you. Bear in mind that you can do nothing against the Alien itself besides running and hiding. From our few rounds of the Alien Game we found that it is one of the most tense board games we can remember playing.
In any event there can be only one winner in the game. While all of us playing managed to get within reach of the escape shuttle, it was the owner of the game that won. She even added the mental image of waving to us as she blasted off to safety.
I supposed I can take some small amount of comfort with this thought. Perhaps those of us left behind were spared the deadly kiss of the Xenomorph…when the Nostromo exploded. So if you get the opportunity I highly recommend you track down a copy of the Alien Game for yourself. I truly found this to be one of the best designed board games I’ve played in quite some time.
So if you cannot get your hands on the Alien Game why not celebrate Alien Day a simpler way?
Obviously I would suggest you spend it watching Alien or perhaps Aliens? In fact, why not take a moment and listen to Ridley Scott talking about directing the 1979 movie?