Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Return to LV-426

Happy Alien Day!

Seeing that today is the 26th day of the 4th month, the people in Marketing thought it to be an ideal date for the commemoration of the events on LV-426, the principal setting for  the first two movies in the Alien franchise.

Normally I find such artificially inspired and commercially gestated observances detestable, but my love for these particular movies is such that I am unable to oppose them, and instead join merrily in the revels, my lips stained purple from the Kool-Aid.

Make no mistake, like so many similar events concocted by their hellish cousins in the greeting card industry, this is a 'holiday' designed to part you from your hard-earned cash. The Retroist has a substantive list of Alien-themed kit coming out for the occasion, starting with the critically under-produced Reebok Alien Stomper high-tops...

...through to the hardcover edition of the Weyland-Yutani Report, which, at $60 is a significant savings over the previous Deluxe Edition that came in at $325 USD.

And while I may look longingly at such items, and others, like the incredibly compelling airsoft M41A Pulse Rifle replica, I managed to restrict my participation to a couple of small items.

The first was a Motion Tracker app for my phone; not practical in the least, but an excellent nerdy prop, and a completely appropriate means of conveying a sense of growing dread without saying a word, as the incessant pulses and increasing pitch of the signals ramp up the tension. Suitable for signifying approaching deadlines, encroaching in-laws or the last opportunity to file one's taxes.

The second was the Aliens pinball table for my iPad's Zen Piuball app.

Pinball is one of the best possible games for the iPad, suiting the graphics capability and form factor down to a 'T'. I have tables for Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Archer, and they are all good in their own way, but only Aliens features Colonial Marines, an APC, a Sentry Gun, and of course, Ripley and the Alien Queen squaring off.

In addition to your standard-issue ramps, targets and spinners, there is a recurring mini-game where you have to drive the APC down the service tunnels, using the flipper buttons to swerve around damaging debris.

Aliens Pinball also has one of the most appropriate voice samples ever used in a video game: Private Hudson's plaintive whine of "Game over, man! Game over!" as your third ball heads down the drain. I'm still waiting to hear Vasquez scream, "Let's rock!"

Surprisingly, I didn't use Alien Day as an excuse to buy Alien: Isolation for the Playstation, despite the fact that the story was written by one of my favourite sci-fi and comic authors, Dan Abnett. On the other hand, given the reports I have heard about how atmospheric and scary the game is, as well as how effective the game's AI is, maybe I just forestalled a cardio incident of some kind.

This is not to say that one needs to make a purchase of any kind in order to appreciate Alien Day; had I discovered it even a few days earlier instead of this morning, I could have:

Ah, well; perhaps next year!

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