March 11th, 2014

tank girl

Xenobiology list! (Part 4) [Super Game Edition]

It's been a pretty long time since I updated this place. I wrote up a bunch of lists last summer, for movies and comics and stuff, but I never got around to posting them for various reasons. But now I'm planning on going through all my backed up lists again so I'll probably be posting a bit more these coming months.

So let's start with another list on neat xenobiology stuff, but this time a videogame special as I've stumbled upon a whole bunch of cool games with awesome aliens. :)

You can find my previous three lists on the subject here:

Xenobiology list 01
Xenobiology list 02
Xenobiology list 03

To the next list!

Star Control 2

This. Game. Is. Aaaamazing. I love this game so much and I praise Crom and Mithra for randomly finding it on the internet somewhere. It's sort of a space based exploration game with serious RPG-undertones. The story and setting is eerily similar to Mass Effect but Star Control 2 came out on DOS in 1992 . The setting pretty much follows all kinds of previous sci-fi tropes, although it's all very well written and seriously funny.

One of my favourite things are the aliens though. Some are throwbacks to older less realistic aliens which work in the overall humour of the game. But the game really shines with the interesting and strange non-humanoid aliens. Like the Zoq, Fot and Piq (which you can see below) whom all evolved on the same planet and worked together to exterminate a fourth intelligent predatory species called the Zebranky.

And then there's the Orz where the individuals of the species seems to be closely connected into some sort of virtual reality which makes their frame of reference very obtuse. It makes them nearly impossible to understand.

You can try out the game entirely for free as the source code was released for public use. This led to a fan-port of the entire game to modern platforms under the title 'The Ur-Quan Masters' which I urge you all to check out. Another group of fans also recently released a gorgeous HD update of the game which is also available for free.

In other news the rights to Star Control was recently auctioned off to another publisher that plans to make more games in the series. And there's even rumours saying some of the original developers will be involved. Fantastic news all around.


Waking Mars

Here's a game which was released a bit more recently. It was first released as an iPhone app and it got great reviews. This prompted the devs to do an updated release for Mac and Windows computers which is how I played it. It works and looks beautiful played on a computer with a gamepad.

It's set on Mars where we've discovered a sort of dormant life in the caves under the surface of the planet. Our intrusion wakes up the life and what follows is a really original puzzle game where you need to figure out which alien plant to grow and where to make the biosystem self-sufficent. Unlike most games where you have to kill and destroy, this game instead lets you create and spread life. It's a work of art.



Here's another old school computer game that I for the longest of times never played but still admired for it's sheer quantity of truly non-humanoid aliens. In fact there's not even any humans in the game. The closest thing to a humanoid is a six-legged lizard race or a bipedal race of giant eyeballs on legs.

The game is a 4X game where you build bases on planets to gather resources and then build ships to conquer the universe. It was originally released on DOS but the devs have since updated the entire game to work on iOS devices like iPads and iPhones.

I've played it a bit on my iPhone but I absolutely suck at these long-term strategy games. It's got great reviews so if you like these kinds of games makes sure to check it out. All the different weird aliens made it worth it for me.



So I've mentioned 'Star Control 2' in the beginning and while that game is amazing it basically owes it's existence to two much earlier games called Starflight and Starflight 2. I'm pretty sure a couple of the people who made Star Control also worked on the Starflight games which might explain some similarities. While Star Control 2 might be a bit more polished the Starflight games (in my opinion) succeeds to create a better sense of the wonder of exploration. But the most important thing is that they both include an amazing range of fascinating and strange aliens and civilisations.

The two Starflight games were first released on the Amiga but was then ported to all kinds of platforms. With the first game even getting a really great make-over for the Sega Genesis which is the version I've played the most.

There's also a fully fan-made third game which was released for free online.



There's very few games that I have so many fond memories of as the first Half-life game. I re-played it so many times and back in the days I even joined forums just for the game. I even have really old drawings of the main character that I drew when I was about 10-12 years old. If I had to choose one game to be my all-time favourite Half-Life would be it.

The game takes place in a secret military research base where they manage to open up portals to other dimensions (or something). And one of my favourite parts of the game was when you actually got to travel to these very alien places. I loved the contrast of the drab concrete military base with the truly colorful alien worlds of floating rocks and strange alien creatures.

While there were a lot of creatures that was bipedal and obviously built on the same skeletal design as the human characters (for obvious game mechanic reasons). They all still looked very non-human and bizarre. But fortunatley there was also a crapload of really neat non-bipedal creatures as well.

Alien Dimension Gameplay.

Xenophage: Alien Bloodsport

So leaving an all-time classic like half-life behind let's talk about a not-so classic game. Xenopahge, which was a fighting game released for DOS in 1996. I had never heard of it until last year when I stumbled unto the title somewhere and decided to do a search on it. And what I discovered was a pretty standard fighting game but one filled with really strange and interesting aliens.

The plot is something about aliens traveling to earth to find the best fighters on the planet and to pit them against the best fighters of other planets. Which sounds amazing, the plot and design almost makes up for the unoriginal gameplay.


Infinite Space

Infinite Space might look like an old game but it's all new(-ish) with a retro style. It's a space exploration game designed to be played in around 15 minutes and it does that perfectly.

You fly your ship from planet to planet randomly meeting other species or getting into accidents or attacks while your mission is to gather as much valuable crap as you can under a certain amount of time. You then have to avoid destruction while returning to earth to see how much you've earned. You mostly just die or get robbed or something but it's all worth it because the game is filled with some really fun and strange aliens.

The developers are currently making the third game in the series which will be in 3D. Unfortunately the original art designer Bill Sears passed away but hopefully they'll keep a similar style to the beautiful art that he was behind.


Mass Effect

And now here's a game that I probably don't need to make too much of an introduction for. It's been pretty big on the gaming scene and deservidly so (even though a lot of people dislike the ending of the latest game, I loved it though). It's a truly entertaining and beautiful action-RPG game set in a really interesting universe.

And while most of the aliens aren't that special. Mostly because they are all built around the same humanoid skeleton-design (again, for obvious game mechanical reasons). But the game still manages to make most of the aliens interesting and strange even though they are humanoid in shape.

But the main reason I include Mass Effect on this list is because there's actually a couple of really interesting non-humanoid aliens scattered around too. Aliens that aren't humanoid in shape or in psychology.

There's the Elcor which are big creatures that kind of resembles a mix between a gorilla and an elephant. They always have to state their emotional states plainly in their monotone voices before communicating with other species who won't catch it otherwise. This leads to some hilarious background scenes with Elcor reciting Shakespeare or starring in a buddy-cop movie but still talking in their monotone voices.

Another really neat alien species is the Hanar which looks like a mix between an octopus and a jellyfish. They usualy conduct trading in the galaxy and for cultural reasons can't ever refer to themselves as individuals.

Elcor clip.

Hanar Clip

Planet Explorers

And now we get to some really promising games currently in production. The first one is Planet Explorer which is a third-person exploration and building game. I guess it's kind of like Minecraft but set in a sci-fi setting and with a much more detailed design.

You crashland on a planet and have to survive by gathering resources and making tools and buildings and then later on even vehicles. The planet you crashland on is filled with huge alien creatures that you can hunt and kill (or get killed by). You can see a good selection of the beautiful creatures they've created for the game below.

This is a game I will definately check out whenever I get a new computer.


Unclaimed World

And lastly here's a game that I'm really looking forward to called Unclaim World! It's a light stratetic exploration and survival game on a truly alien planet.

You are in charge of a newly started colony on an alien planet and you need to guide your colonists to a bright future of being alive (on the planet). I have always wanted to play a game exactly like this and what makes me even more excited is the world the developers have created. Someone has finally decided to make a truly alien world with truly alien creatures in it. I find myself just looking at the early footage of the game over and over again admiring the design and details.

This is my single most anticipated game right now and everyone who is either interested in games like this or just xenobiology should check it out.