ALF is a 1988 game about, well, ALF, the Alien Life Form TV series star. In this game, you have to guide ALF around the rather mazelike neighborhood, collecting various goodies and avoiding baddies. Pacman-with-a-license, basically.
First of all, for those like me who don’t really know a lot about ALF, an introduction. Some good day, ALF crashed on Earth right into the garage of the Tanners family. Not really knowing what to do with the big hairy monster, they decide to hide him in their house. Much sitcom humor follows. The show originally ran from 1986 to 1990.
So in this game, ALF decides it’s time to go back home I guess. For this, he needs a few things: 4 cats, 2 space craft parts and a key. Now, cats are fickle beasts so before he is able to catch one of them, ALF needs to eat pizza. Once he found a pizza, he starts eating it and you have to catch the cat while you still have some pizza left. Meanwhile, you have to avoid the man of the household (Willy). If he catches you, you’ll have to clear out the garage, losing all progress you made. Cats are set free again, space ship parts are lost. Then there is the dog catching service, if they trap you you lose a life. Lose three lives and it’s game over.
Yeah, I’m still not sure whether all this is hilarious, sad, or an LSD experiment.
First of all, if you play this in DOSBox, lower the speed. I’m not sure to what level, but seeing pizza being eaten faster than I can do it while cats zoom by at lightspeed is not the intended experience of the game I think. With lower speeds, the animation are not as fluid but at least the game is playable.
In a reversal of common game design knowledge, the levels start with the hardest part and gradually get easier. You need to catch 4 cats while under the influence of pizza, which is truly not an easy feat. Once you have those, you have to find two space ship parts, which don’t move and you don’t have a limited pizza-timeframe to do it in so it’s really easy. And after that you need to pick up a single key, almost as a mockery to your previously displayed cat-catching skills. I guess it’s called dénouement?
Don’t get me wrong, the game itself isn’t really bad. It’s entertaining, basically in the same way pacman is entertaining. It provides some good twists on the pacman game, too. There is humor in the spirit of the TV series. It even looks somewhat good. Unfortunately, the game is not really smooth to play or very logically designed. Somehow, in my mind, an example of the archetypal “oldie game” but I’m not sure that conclusion makes sense to anyone else. 6/10