Developed by Probe, Alien 3 is a 1992 platformer loosely based off of the 1992 film of the same name. In this adventure, Ripley runs around Fiorina 161 while shooting a multitude of Aliens and rescuing the prisoners of the penal colony planet. Incidentally, there are more aliens and prisoners in the game than in the movie.
Best time on Hard difficulty: Single-segment 0:31:40 by Martin 'J.Y' Söderhäll on 2014-05-17.
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Alien 3 was released on almost every major console that were available back in the early 90's, including versions on home computers such as Amiga and C64. Most of the versions looks and plays pretty much the same: you go around rescuing prisoners while killing everything in your way. The only versions that stands out are the SNES and Gameboy versions, where the first one has more of an action-adventure feel to it, with no time limits and more objectives than just rescuing prisoners and killing everything , and the second one some kind of weird top-down exploring game that looks and plays like shit. The reason I picked the Genesis version was mainly because it was the only one I had, and it seemed to be the most appropriate one for speedrunning. Although this game has very little to do with the movie, it's still a great game and IMO a little bit of a hidden gem.
When I first got a hold on the Mega Drive version of this game in January 2013 I didn't really have any serious thoughts about speedruning it, but after I've completed it I started to play it more and more, and after I discovered the TAS by Exilant, I started to route the game. Although the TAS was pretty quick and had mostly good routing, I tried to come up with my own strats and routes because it just feels more genuine and fun to do it yourself. The TAS was very helpful when it came to the boss battles though, so Exilant deserves a lot of credit for that.
After spending about two months routing and practicing every level individually, I started to record some serious runs in April 2013 on the Mega Drive version of the game. After doing some attempts and getting better and better times on a regular basis, I settled for a final goal: to beat the game in less than 39 minutes. I thought that it wouldn't be too hard to break the 39 min mark, but the fact that I was just finishing my education and starting a new job right after that didn't really help me. I spent a couple of weeks grinding the game almost every day, but the best time I got was only 39:03. As the summer approached, I started to get fed up with the game and I didn't play it at all for the rest of the year.
When I picked up this game again in January 2014 I had forgotten some minor parts of the game, but for the most part I could remember almost every level in detail, and it didn't take me that long to refresh my memory on the parts where I struggled. I then bought a Genesis console so I could play the game in proper speed, and together with some minor changes in the route, I manage to cut the time with over 7 minutes just by switching from PAL to NTSC. The final time of 31:40 is actually over a minute faster than the TAS, and that's probably the one thing I'm most satisfied with, it's not every day you beat a TAS!
The gameplay is pretty simple. For the most part, all you have to do is rescue prisoners and exit the level before the timer runs out. There's not that many tricks of glitches that are useful, but there are a couple of things to point out:
• You shoot faster with the grenade launcher if you kneel, and you can also just hold down the B-button when you fire, rather than pressing it each time you want to fire the weapon. The same thing goes for the regular grenades that you throw, except that you have to press the button each time you want to throw a grenade.
• The pulse rifle is the only weapon you can fire while running, so I always try to use it as much as possible.
• The only useful glitch I've found is a "sort of"" no-clip glitch that lets you pass through every solid object except for conveyor belts. All you have to do is to press and hold down on the D-pad while you're standing on a floor piece that collapses when you step on it. As the floor drops down, Ripley will start to descend very slowly and pass through floors, walls, lava pits, ect. There are very few levels in the games that has this type of floor, so you can only perform this glitch on certain locations in the game. If you keep holding down long enough you can actually go OOB and run around under the level, but sadly enough I haven't found any way to pass through the exit doors for below.
The first level of the game is very easy, except for one part in the beginning. After saving the first prisoner you have to make your way back pretty fast in order to get the moving platforms at 0:37 to appear at the right time. You have to be careful and not jump down on the platform to fast, otherwise Ripley will start to fall uncontrollable and take fall damage as soon as you hit the ground. You can't be to slow either: the alien below you that jumps to the right won't move if he doesn't appear when you land on the platform, which makes it impossible to avoid taking damage on him. Other than that that everything else went good.
Running through the first alien is something I picked up from the TAS. A small but important detail that makes more difference than you think. The moving pattern of the two aliens at the beginning is heavily depending on how fast I rescue the first prisoner: if the in-game timer would display 3:02 instead of 3:04 when I'm climbing up the ladder, the aliens wouldn't move in one direction each, which would cause me to be more careful when I'm making my way up there, and thus loosing time.
Around the 2:25 mark there's a moving platform that I often had trouble to reach in time. I came up with the idea of blasting a couple of doors with the grenade launcher, instead of opening them with the buttons that are right next to them, and that small timesaver turned out to be just enough for me to reach the moving platform fast enough.
This level is probably the one that is most improved comparing to the TAS, and it all comes down to the route. For some reason, the TAS took a huge detour after the part where you jump over a lot of big fans. Instead of going back the same way, Exilant continued to go down and went through an air vent, which is much slower than going back up to the floor where you started.
Even though I for a long time thought I had the best route for this level, I came to change my mind just weeks before completing the run. I was watching my brother play the game casually, and since he didn't knew the game as well as I do, he took a different route after saving the first two prisoners in the "big fan" area. I had always taken to the right after climbing the ladder to the starting floor, but by continuing up to the highest floor you can save a couple of seconds, and that small timesaver made it possible to reach the moving platform near the end one cycle earlier, which saves about 10 seconds overall.
There are a total of 5 bosses in the game, or "guardians" as the game calls them. The first time I played the game, they were all quite hard to kill, but I spent a lot of time practicing each one of them individually, and that really made a difference. This is the only boss that isn't done faster than in the TAS, but it has to do with luck. Most of the times, the guardian aliens withstands roughly the same amount of damage before they die, but sometimes you can get lucky and kill one a couple of seconds earlier than normal. I'm not sure what causes this, but my guess is that it has to do something with how fast you can deliver the damage to them.
I made a little mistake and missed the first button to the doors in the lower parts of the level, therefore I had to shoot two doors with the grenade launcher instead of just one, otherwise I would probably not have made it to the platform at the 7:10 mark. Other than that I think this level went really well.
This is the only level were you don't have to save any prisoners, all you have to do is make it to the exit before the timer runs out. It also one of the shortest level in the game, it takes only about one minute to complete it. Other than a couple of fancy jumps over some aliens in the middle of the level, there not really not that much more that is worth mentioning. The level could possibly be improved a couple of seconds if the movement and executions were a bit tighter, but that would require almost TAS-like gameplay so I'm pretty satisfied with the outcome of this level.
One of the harder levels in the game, and it all comes down to the movement of two platforms in the middle of the level. I know that I'm mentioning "moving platforms" a lot, but their importance cannot be underestimated. One wrong move, and the whole run could be ruined.
The first section of the level is filled with enemies, but since you refill your ammo for the pulse rifle and flamethrower at the beginning you don't really need to worry about ammo conservation. After rescuing the first couple of prisoners I take the ladder down to the lower parts of the level. Just after I jumped over the spike pit, I skip the prisoner to the left and go straight up the next ladder. It's not entirely necessary to skip him, but by doing so I have a little bit more time to adjust myself before jumping down on the platform that moves horizontally around the 10:22 mark, which is the hardest part in this level. I had some minor problems getting off a ladder in this section, but it didn't matter that much since you still have to wait for the moving platform. After killing the two aliens and jumping over the big gap, the hard parts are over and the rest of the level is pretty easy.
The second boss battle is a bit tricky: it's not hard to kill the guardian, but doing so without taking damage isn't always that easy. As with all of the bosses, I did a lot of testing before I finally settled for this tactic. The idea of using the flamethrower just before the alien jumps back over me to the right may seem like a small thing, but by doing so I can be sure to always kill the guardian during his first movement cycle.
The hardest part is where you have to run towards him and duck under some spit. Since you don't have any solid mark in the background to go after, you have to do it on free hand. If you're very lucky, you could kill him as early as around the 1:29 mark (in-game time), but sadly it didn't happen this time. Still a good boss fight though.
The most interesting thing about this level is at the end of the level, during the section with all the doors. The first time I played the game, this part of the level was filled with aliens and barrels, but when I started to speedrun it, there were no aliens or barrels to be seen. I still haven't figured out exactly what causes this, but I think it cloud have something to do with the choice of weapons. I use the grenades a bit more than I did in the first play through, and I also kill one alien with the grenade launcher, and I think that some of that may cause the last corridor to be empty. Overall a good level, but just like with Mission 5, it could probably be improved a couple of seconds with tighter execution.
The first out of two "rescue" missions, meaning that there are no enemies to fight, only lots of prisoners to save. A very easy level except for one part early on. Just after saving all the prisoners on the upper floors (around the 15:20 mark), I drop down diagonally on the moving platform that takes you down to the bottom floor. This jump is always very tight and quite hard to do, because you don't really have any time at all to adjust your jump in the air, and if you're too slow you will just fall straight through the platform all the way to the bottom floor, which results in a time loss of about 30 seconds. Once you've made that jump though, everything else is very easy.
Probably the hardest level to complete perfectly in the whole game. Basically you have to make your way through the level as fast as possible to the very end where you have to catch a moving platform/elevator.. You can't really afford to lose more than a second or two during the entire level, otherwise you will never get to the last platform in time. Needless to say, a lot of resets came on this level. Even though It's not more than a 10-11 second time loss if you miss the platform, it's still enough to make it a lot harder to get a time below 32 minutes.
The third guardian is both the easiest and hardest boss at the same time. It wasn't that hard to figure out the best strategy, but getting it done consistently isn't always that easy. I start off by throwing a couple of grenades on the alien, which delivers more damage than just using the pulse rifle. Then, when he drops down I start blasting him with the grenade launcher as much as I can before jumping onto the elevator. Usually, you would have just enough time to kill the guardian with the flamethrower, but this time he died as soon as I hit him, which is a very rare moment.
After killing the alien, I pick up some ammo for the grenade launcher. You can pick up some extra ammo on the fourth guardian as well, but after some testing I found out that you lose less time if you collect the ammo on the third guardian, and also gain more ammo thanks to the secret ammo that are behind the wall. Thanks goes out to Youtube user JohnX895, who showcased where the hidden ammo was in his walkthrough on this game.
I've always liked the music in this level, especially the melancholic piano that you hear in the beginning. The good thing about the this level and the two next is that there are not elevators or platforms that you have to rush to, which makes them a bit easier than most of the other levels. The annoying thing though is that there are a lot of places where it drips stuff from the ceiling (possibly alien spit or something?), so that's why I'm being a bit careful on some places in the level.
I made a small mistake in the middle of the level where I failed to pick up some ammo for the grenade launcher because my thumb slipped on the D-pad, but other than that everything is done pretty much as fast as it can be.
This is the easiest level in the whole game, once you know where are the prisoners are. There's not that much to else to say about this level, the only thing that you need to look out for is the spit that's dropping from the ceiling. Other than that you can just run 'n gun all the way through.
One of the harder levels, and also the only one that I'm not that satisfied with due to the fail at the beginning of the level. I made a mistake and jumped a bit early, but normally the alien would charge at me a bit faster than he did, so I kind of feel like I had a bit of bad luck there. Thankfully, I managed to get away pretty fast without taking a second hit, so at least it didn't cost me that much time.
There are a couple of places where some minor improvement could be made, like killing the alien that drops down on you when you're on the ladder early on, but apart from that I think this level went pretty good.
Guardian number four was hard the first time I faced it, but after some practice it turned out to be pretty easy. Sitting down and firing grenade shots at him is by far the easiest and fastest way to kill him. The tricky part here is to get onto the elevator without taking a hit from the alien spit, something that always makes me a bit nervous. The same thing goes for the jump over the guardian, just before he takes the final blow. I was a bit late when I jumped off the elevator, but luckily I had just enough time to kill before he jumped away. The reason why I stop shooting and jump a couple steps forward during the first part is because the grenades has limited reach. which was something I discovered pretty late during the making of the run.
This is the second "rescue" level in the game. Thankfully it's a lot shorter than the first one. I think I've found the optimal route for this level, so there's not that much to say about it other than I'm satisfied with it.
This level is the shortest one in the entire game, but it has one extremely annoying jump that you often fail to complete. The first time I got to this level it immediately took a hit from the alien that comes crawling towards you. I think it's kind of mean to place the alien that near the starting point, if you don't know it's coming, you don't really have any time to react before it's too late.
Right after I've killed the first couple of aliens and rescued the first prisoner comes the only part in the game where I use the "noclip" glitch, which allows me to drop down on the elevator without taking fall damage, and also jump off it earlier than I normal could. Just after that there's a part where you have to jump on top of a pipe in order to advance in the level. This wouldn't have been so hard if the top of the pipe was solid all way, but the fact that you can only stand on the very edges of it makes it really easy to miss and fall right through it. It's always a relief when you make that jump, but there's one more hard jump in the following level to come, so you can't really relax yet.
Even though the level is so short, I still manage to take some damage on a crawling alien right after the hard jump. I think it's just ridiculous, I'm high in the air and not even near the alien, but still I get hit in the mid-air. For some reason, some of the aliens have bigger hitboxes than others (at least it feels like that), and this is one of them. Other than that everything else goes well. The reason I throw two grenades at the end is because I need to lure the aliens to come towards me, otherwise I will land right on top of them when I jump down.
The last "regular" level in the game is actually pretty easy, except for one particularly hard jump in the early on. After taking the elevator down and killing the first couple of aliens, there is a part where you have to jump across a huge gap in order to reach a prisoner. As I mentioned earlier, the jump in level 14 is hard because of the narrow landing space, but this one is even harder because it's so long. If you fail the jump, you will drop down on a conveyor belt and land pretty far away from where you came. The fact that it takes over 30 second to make your way back isn't that fun when you have to deal with the timer ticking down, so if you miss that jump, the run is wasted.
After clearing the long jump. everything is very easy until you reach the very last part of the level, where you have to kill 3 aliens that spawns from out of nowhere. The flamethrower is absolutely necessary here because the grenade launcher is too slow and the pulse rifle to weak. You also have to be careful and not run too far ahead, otherwise you won't have time to kill them.
You would expect a mother alien as the final boss, but you only get tow guardians instead. Not that they are easy, they can prove to be quite difficult the first time you play the game, but it feels kind of cheap and maybe a little bit "lame" to just fight the same bosses all over again.
Anyway, I think that this boss battle went really great and it's one of the levels I'm most proud of. The fact that I kill the last guardian with only one shot left in the grenade launcher was a bit lucky, but nevertheless a great way to end the run.
And so....IT IS DONE!
Thank you for watching the run and reading my comments, hope you had a great time!
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