Sometimes you play a game that confuses you. It should be straightforward to play, but then things don’t make sense. The controls are confusing, your goal isn’t apparent, and you feel like the game wastes time.
That is how I felt when I played Heiankyo Alien. It is a single-screen game where you’re fighting aliens. The game looks like it should be easy to understand. However, the Game Boy version made me scratch my head.
Once I figured out how to play the game, I found it to be a fun arcade experience. There are two play options. I mostly played the new version, but it is nice to have the original look.
TLDR: A Fun Arcade Game, But it Can get Tiring Over Time.
This game was initially released on computers and later ported to the arcades in Japan in 1979. Sega-Gremlin handled the North American release in 1980. I wish it had stayed in the late 70s and early 80s.
It is a maze chase game created by the Theoretical Science Group at the University of Tokyo. It was for personal computers first before being ported to the arcades.
Sega-Gremlin changed the name to Digger for the North American market. This makes more sense as you must dig holes and bury the aliens to advance to the next stage.
The most notable story in all of this is who made the game. The Theoretical Science Group was a student club that has existed since 1959. They were inspired to make this game after playing Space Invaders.
You play a police officer from the Heian period of Japanese history. Aliens invade, and it is up to you to stop them. Instead of shooting them with arrows or slashing them with swords, your weapon is digging holes. Once the aliens fall into the holes, you shovel dirt on them.
These aliens are not all that threatening. They can’t even dig their way out of a hole. A sandbox is all you need to defeat them. It isn’t the most ridiculous thing in video games.
This is a simple single-screen game. It is in the maze chase genre, as you must avoid enemies and lure them into a trap. There are nine levels, and the way to advance to the next level is by defeating all the aliens.
The Game Boy version has two options on how to play. It is mostly a graphical difference, but the new version has a second enemy type. Aside from that, it is the same game.
There is no beating this game. You’re trying to get a high score. This is common in games from this era and other arcade games.
Once you get a handle on the controls, it is a solid arcade game. It isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it is a fun game to play if you’re a fan of arcade games.
There are two things to talk about here. You have the classic (OLD) and updated (New) graphics. I’m not a huge fan of the Atari 2600 or the early arcade-era graphics. I prefer the updated graphics because they look much better than the 1979 graphics.
In the New version, you can see what your character looks like, and there are buildings. There is much more detail, and it is more visually appealing. Everything looks like it is supposed to.
The Old version looks like an Atari 2600 game. Aside from some differences between your character and the aliens, it has little detail. It isn’t visually appealing when you have the New version on the same cartridge.
7/10. The game has solid controls and decent gameplay. It doesn’t stand out from a very crowded field of other arcade games.
- Pick-up and Play
- Updated graphics
- Good controls
- You need the manual or an online walkthrough to figure out what to do
- No story mode
- Single-player only
- Short game (about 20-30 minutes of gameplay)
This was a fun little game that I hadn’t heard of before I started collecting games for the Game Boy. When I first played it, I was baffled about what I should do. The more I played it, the more I found it to be fun for a little while.
One of the big problems is the lack of game modes. You have two versions of the same game, and that is it. No two-player, no story mode, and nothing to do after you’ve tired with the main game.
This is one of the ports that should have added more. It really hurt the game when I compared it to ports of other 70s and 80s arcade games on the Game Boy. Other arcade games added more content to give the player more value, but the developers didn’t do that for some reason.