BETTER DEAD THAN ALIEN REVIEW by Richard Karsmakers
It was 03:10 hours in the morning of March 23rd 1950. Silent and
impressive stood the silhouette of the rocket that would take him
to Mars in a couple of hours. Brad Zoom, the intrepid space
explorer, looked nervously at his watch as he watched the seconds
for the launch tick away. Which dangers would await him on that
remote, red planet? Was there life? And, if so, was it hostile or
He had read H.G. Wells' "War of the World" the day before, and
it had not quite comforted him in his thoughts. He was glad,
anyway, that the Aeronautics Agency had allowed him to take his
mega-zapper-splatter gun with him. Thàt had comforted his
"Astronaut Brad Zoom," the speakers yelled, "please report to
the operating room! Please report to the operating room!" He cast
a last glance at the rocket, behind which some light of the
rising sun was beginning to become visible, as he walked into the
Brad was lifted in his space suit and a long waiting time
started. He thought back about his youth, his first girlfriend,
the Fish'n'Chips store on the corner, the expanding universe, his
second girlfriend, Einstein's relativity theory, his mother in
low, his third girlfriend, the.....
(While thinking about all these absolutely uninteresting things
that would surely not be beneficiary to this story, Brad fell
asleep. He awoke to find himself listening to the countdown....)
oops..."One - ignition!" Brad looked around and saw the earth
vanishing in a sea of fire as he lost consciousness....Grrooo....
"Control room to Steel Cigar! Control room to Steel Cigar! Come
in, Steel Cigar! Over!"
Brad shook his head and glanced at his watch. Damn! It was past
eight in the morning already! He had been unconscious for several
"This is Steel Cigar! Come in Control room, over!", he answered.
"Ah, Zoom!" was the nonchalant reply of the control room, "Had a
nice nap? We've been waiting for ages to get a reply from you. It
was about time! Everything OK?"
Brad only mumbled as a reply, gently caressing his mega-zapper-
splatter gun's trigger. Couldn't they talk business or what?
"Everything's OK, Control room. Course set and locked. Estimated
time of arrival on Mars: April 1st 1954. I will now go into a
cryogenic sleep. Over and out!"
"Roger. Over and out."
Then there was silence...
(We will now jump a bit in time, let's say, to April 1st 1954...)
Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.
A penetrating noise made Brad wake up from his cryogenic sleep.
He rubbed his limbs a bit, but noticed that the temperature was
quite comfortable in the cabin so that this rubbing was quite
unnecessary. He looked outside the window and saw a red landscape
with low hills and some smoking volcanoes that weren't much
bigger. The rocket threw a long shadow on the planet - it must
have been getting late. There were no clouds in the sky - only
whole hosts of stars and small dots that seemed to be moving. But
the latter could be his scrambled sense of sight.
He left his space craft, setting foot upon the soft Marsian soil
and muttering something about 'small steps for him' and 'great
steps for mankind'.
It was getting to be pretty hot in his suit; the air
conditioning must have been damaged during the landing. "It's TOO
hot for comfort anyway!" he thought, and decided to take the
chance of taking off his suit. "Crikey! I can breathe!" he
thought again, "so the place supports life - but whose life?
That's the problem."
As he sighed and commemorated his thoughts, he noticed a small
thing popping out of the stone on which he was sitting. He stood
up and saw an extraordinary mega-Martian mushroom grow until it
was even bigger than himself! "So thìs is alien vegetation," he
thought, "could get quite a few pizzas out of this lot..."
But at that moment, the air was full of the mechanical grind of
an alien taskforce - Brad Zoom, adventurer from Earth, was under
attack from creepy crawlies from another planet: Martians?
Moonmen? Asteroid-folk or something much worse?
A metallic voice echoed over the wide Martian plains: "Earthman!
Prepare to be shot!" They were serious.
Well, as sure as his name was Brad Zoom, he was not planning to
get shot. He'd rather dash for his rocket to fetch his mega-
zapper-splatter gun. If only he could reach it... He should find
some sort of cover - QUICKLY!
ZAP! ZINGGG! CRASH!
The first lasers were fired at him and he was just quick enough
to dodge 'em. The mushroom! That might shelter him from the
He tore out the piece of alien vegetation that he had earlier
wanted to reduce to pizza-ingredients and used it as an umbrella
while he ran like his life depended on it (well, as a matter of
fact, it DID).
"My goodness," he sighed as he reached the rocket, "I've made it
to the ship: Now you slime - just wait and see what I've got for
YOU!" He grabbed his MZS-gun and did some jolly good shooting.
But then he turned to find thousands of creepies cascading from
the sky towards him - obviously all set to have themselves A
Much had been heard about Electra's first game, "Better Dead
Than Alien", before it was even launched. I read something about
an extraordinary press release that was said to be good enough to
buy the game right away. As I, however, had not seen any such
press release, I really wanted to PLAY the game before I would
Well, I've played the game alright - perhaps more than I
should've. At first (after the intro screens), you have to get
used to the mouse control. The game can be played by one player
(keyboard or mouse) or two players (keyboard and mouse or
keyboard and keyboard) and when you select the first option you
HAVE to use the mouse. After getting used to this (it is the
first shoot-'em-up I remember that really has to be played with
the mouse), the game became good fun to play. I have always been
into blast-'em-up games (being not much of a pacifist) and this
was quite to my liking.
In fact, "Better Dead Than Alien" can be described as a cross-
over between "Space Invaders" and "Arkanoid" - a combination that
has enough potential to keep you on edge for a long time. There
are many attack waves of aliens, each supported by different
graphics. A bonus monster appears after every two levels - and
these also vary all the time.
The graphics are moderate (some digitized stuff) to good (the
attack waves, monsters, and things like that), and the sound
effects are up to reasonable standards - both regular as well as
digital sound effects so it seems.
"Better Dead Than Alien" is without doubt the mindless alien
blaster game it pretends to be. The graphics and sound effects
are good, gameplay is well enough once you've grown used to it
(or when you've played "Arkanoid" or "Impact" a lot, like yours
truly has). I don't know how many levels there are, but there
seem to be plenty! I will surely be playing this game for some
Name: Better Dead Than Alien
Value for Money: 7.5
Overall rating: 8-
Price: 79.50 Dutch guilders
Remark: Lousy comic-booklet added to it. It
does not save hiscores (pity)
Thanks go to Mr. Harry van Horen from Homesoft (Haarlem,
Holland), for sending the review game. It came in just in time!
For info, you can write to:
16b Worcester Place
Oxford OX1 2JW
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.