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July 20, 2005

NOT FOR KIDS: Alien Hominid

  • Platforms: GameCube, Xbox (Europe only), PlayStation 2
  • Current Price (new): I'm not telling (okay, fine: $20-$25)
  • Amount of Game Played: 0% (by the kids, anyway)
Though I try to keep my copy of Alien Hominid out of sight, my kids occasionally catch a glimpse of it, and invariably, every time they see the colorful yellow cartoon alien on the cover, they ask if they can play, because it looks like a lot of fun.

As always, I patiently explain that even though it may look like a game for kids, it's still For-Grownups-Only, so they'll just have to find another game to play (not that we have a shortage of choices).

No, this game isn't as bad as a certain raunchy squirrel I warned parents about recently. Where Conker: Live & Reloaded is profane, disgusting & violent (hmm, I may have to try that game after the kids go to bed), Alien Hominid is simply violent (though very much so). And to that point, while Conker is rated M (Mature), Alien Hominid is rated T (Teen).

"Cartoon violence," as listed on the ESRB's content descriptors, can be many things. It can be relatively mild, like Sly 2 Band of Thieves (review coming soon), or it can be intense, graphic, bloody (well, cartoon blood, anyway) & non-stop, like Alien Hominid. To be fair to the ESRB, they also have a "Mild Cartoon Violence" content descriptor, but there are always variances within each rating or descriptor. Just something to keep in mind when you see the ratings.

For parents, this game can be a lot of fun (depending on your gaming preferences, of course). It's a funny, extremely challenging 2D side-scrolling shooter, in the mold of Metal Slug.

There's also a feel-good story behind it, in that it was originally created (and became immensely popular) for newgrounds.com, an independent, Flash animation-based games website. FYI, Newgrounds is owned & run by Tom Fulp, who programmed Alien Hominid (Dan Paladin, aka synj, did the graphics).

Due to the deeply disheartening dominance of derivative drivel (sure, I'm exaggerating, but check out the swell alliteration!) out there in the marketplace, it's such a breath of fresh air to see innovative new titles like Alien Hominid & Katamari Damacy (an excellent kids game that I'll be reviewing soon).

So have fun playing the game if you're so inclined. Just make sure to keep it where the kids can't find it.

In the meantime, here's a little cartoon carnage for your viewing pleasure:


NOTE: When I link to game information, it usually comes down to a choice between Metacritic (ratings-based) & Answers.com (information-based). Each has it's strong and weak points, but I was just wondering if anyone out there had a preference between the two. Feel free to chime in.


  • It's great that you have studied and grown up with game industry history so much. By your own practice you're showing here, it's amazing that you came out okay (if you have played a good portion of games through the ages as you seem to claim from your profile). If you think limiting kids from cartoon violence is going to affect them negatively, then I'm going to have to say you're a little bit too much on the "dainty" side. Not to mention that you must feel like you came out wrong if you have to limit a game as timid as Alien Hominid.

    As a kid I played barbarian, a game where you chop off people's heads or slice them to death. For months. After they died a mutant would drag their bloody body off and kick the lifeless head. I also played brataccus where you can choose the bad side of the law and slice people with your sword. Essentially I played everything else that was ever violent, in the very first era of PC games on the amiga and atari all the way through today. I don't even kill bugs in my house unless I can't find a decent way to transport them outside.

    A vast majority of Alien Hominid fans are young, and have regular fun playing it. Or wait! THEY ARE A BREED OF SERIAL KILLERS WAITING TO HAPPENNNNnnnnnn hahaha

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:39 PM  

  • For me, it's a question of both age and degree of violence.

    For example, how old were you when you played the bloody body/lifeless head game?

    I've read a lot of books on the subject, including the excellent "Killing Monsters," which I largely agree with.

    But just because I think that fantasy violence could be OK for kids, I still have a responsibility as a parent to set limits and to make sure that whatever play violence they're exposed to is age-appropriate.

    My kids are pretty young, and I already let them play games with shooting (e.g. the Ratchet & Clank series - which I'm reviewing this week), but at their ages, Alien Hominid is simply too violent.

    While I don't list the ages of my kids, I try to emphasize that I'm talking about "young" kids as often as possible. So when I say that Alien Hominid is "Not For Kids," I'm not saying that it's inappropriate for ALL kids, just young 'uns, shorties, etc.

    BTW, go easy on the generalizations, would ya? Nobody has ever accused me of being dainty. :)

    By Blogger Dan, at 5:17 PM  

  • i think its a great thing that you are setting limits. i just disagree on this particular title.

    to be honest with you i can't remember my exact age when i was playing those first brutal games, but i believe i was too young to know what sex was. nowadays that is hard to pinpoint what that general age was since kids find out everything online - but back then, it was definitely before 5th or 6th grade (when sex education hit).

    my experience is that children that some parents feel may be too young to play it (entering the 3-4 year old territory) cannot navigate the menu anyway, so it's a great deterrent of its own nature.

    sorry about the generalizations. :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:21 PM  

  • well you know, if you go to the options menu you can change the blood to flowers for younger children. Its a great option, try it out and maybe you'll reconsider letting you'r kids play. :]

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:27 PM  

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