A Wave Pool for Aliens

When I was a little kid, every now and then I would go with my parents to the local wave pool to swim. If some start their trauma stories with the fact that one day they swam too far out to sea and almost drowned there, while sharks ate their parents and jellyfish tormented their siblings, and you wondered why sharks ate their own parents and jellyfish tormented their own siblings like that and you were somehow glad to die here alone at sea, while your own family circumstances were definitely better than those of the sea creatures swimming, mine turns out differently.

Every now and then I wake up in the middle of the night, because in my dreams I am pursued by a megaphone, from which booms loudly: “Attention, the next wave follows!” Because that’s how they always started. The warnings about the next wave. It was a wave pool, after all. Every hour the turbines were turned on, and you couldn’t dive too close to them lest they turn you into the next Final Destination movie. Of course, I always dove in anyway. Why not. What was waiting for me above the waves? Nothing. Nothing except that stupid Terminator arcade machine that I wasn’t allowed to play with because I was too young.

Yes, the trauma runs deep. As deep as the ocean where I never got to watch sharks eat their parents. The Terminator machine was in the entertainment area of the wave pool. You had to climb a flight of stairs to reach it. There was ice cream, drinks, seating, and an arcade machine that had two machine guns mounted on it that you could use to shoot terminators. And by “you” I mean all of humanity except me. I wasn’t allowed.

When I saw the machine for the first time, it was all over me. I wanted to build a house next to her and dedicate my entire life to her from that moment on. I walked up to it, picked up the machine guns, delighted in the weight, got goosebumps from the Terminators running around on the TV just waiting to be shot by me, took in the sound effects, and was shooed away by an adult because the machine was not for children. The arcade machine turned into a puddle of bubble soap, flowed down the stairs, mixed with the chlorinated water of the wave pool, and became so diluted that I was unable to even blow a bubble out of it that could burst like my dreams.

I never stood at the machine and fired at Terminators. As a kid, I never dared to approach them since the first time I was shooed away. At some point I was too sensible to go swimming, which now only people who are as sensible as I am understand. In the meantime, the wave pool no longer exists. Nevertheless, I still think about this machine and how much I would have liked to play with it.

Alien Brigade is a game like the Terminator game. Only instead of Terminators you shoot at aliens and brainwashed soldiers. In addition, you don’t have guns in your hands on the Evercade, but control the thread with the directional pad only. Of course, this is not comparable. So why this lengthy introduction? Because the third level of Alien Brigade takes place underwater. Instead of sharks and jellyfish, you’ll encounter dolphins and octopuses, but let’s be honest: above a certain pixel count, the difference between these sea creatures is extremely minimal anyway. In any case, the gameplay and water levels evoked something in me that I had long repressed. The next wave of unpleasant memories crashed over me, leaving me with a literary imagery that is as far-fetched as comparing the movies Terminator and Phantom Commando.

Actually, Alien Brigade is more Phantom Commando than Terminator. Again and again you feel like Schwarzenegger between rose bushes. You shoot and shoot and shoot at enemies who have nothing better to do than to move into the players’ line of fire. In Alien Brigade this feels insanely good. The whole thing is accompanied by sounds that almost couldn’t have been done better. Gunshots, explosions, dying aliens, flying saucers and many other things make for a chaotic background music appropriate to the chaos on screen, which will probably get on the nerves of anyone or anything sitting next to someone playing Alien Brigade with the sound turned up. If you play it yourself, it’s fantastic. On the other hand, if you only listen to it, you would gladly be dependent on a hearing aid and would have forgotten it at home.

At the same time, Alien Brigade is like the scene in Predator when a group of soldiers storm the camp of a horde of evil humans. The first level in particular is very reminiscent of this, although at no point in the game do you lift a car to blow up a building. Instead, you have to rescue hostages. Poor soldiers who are to be turned into evil aliens by evil aliens. First we save soldiers, then tourists, then the world sea, only to finally destroy the brainwashing plant and take on the alien queen at the end, because of course a comparison with the movie Aliens can’t be missing in this text.

It’s good that Alien Brigade has several difficulty levels. Four of them, in fact! The easiest one is great for creating scenes for a video talking about Alien Brigade. From the normal difficulty level on, things look different. You can run out of ammunition and the alien queen will make short work of you. Especially the water level is a challenge, because you won’t be supplied with ammunition or life force during this time. In addition, you shoot with a harpoon, whose shooting speed is a little cheeky, which doesn’t ensure that water levels in video games increase in prestige. Then, on the highest difficulty level, Alien Brigade didn’t hear the shot, even though I’m shooting around with continuous fire all the time and not playing with headphones.

In the end, Alien Brigade is a fantastic game that I’ve actually put many hours into over the past few weeks. I keep pulling it out to remember the time at the wave pool when I asked my parents if I could get an ice cream, only to eat it some distance away from the Terminator machine and watch other kids play. I would have loved to have been one of those kids. But I wasn’t. I was too young, unfortunately. Still, the ice cream tasted good.

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