Press X To Scream In Space: Every 'Alien' Video Game Ranked

Ridley Scott's Alien has had a marked influence on the video game industry, but it's mostly just that – influence. I's James Cameron's Aliens that feels like a video game itself (in a good way), and developers have "borrowed" from it liberally for their titles. Without these movies, the space marines that populate first-person shooters would never have emerged, and games like Contra or Metroid would never have been a thing.

But that's not to say there haven't been some really great officially licensed games! There are good Alien games! But there are also a lot of really bad ones. With Alien: Covenant out this week, there is no better time to rank them from worst to best.

NOTE: While this article covers the vast majority of Alien-related games, there are a handful that are not available in the United States or were impossible to track down. However, this article encompasses the most noteworthy (and most well-known) titles.

Alien Atari 2600

18. Alien (1984)

Platform: Atari 2600

Developer and Publisher: Fox Video Games

The very first Alien game is just embarrassing for everyone involved and a good example of why the industry needed to almost die in the Atari 2600 days before people realized you couldn't just slap a license on a box and expect people to buy it. In Alien you play a solitary human trying to evade an alien through an intricate maze of... Okay, look, alright, it's just a ripoff of Pac-Man. What's more, it's Pac-Man interspersed with sections that are ripped out of Frogger but nowhere near as fulfilling or graphically exciting. It's an inauspicious start to the world of video game adaptations for the franchise, but was also, sadly, a warning of the many, many lousy titles to come.

Aliens Comic Book Adventure

17. Aliens: A Comic Book Adventure (1995)

Developer: Cryo Interactive

Publisher: Mindscape Inc.

Did you ever look at all the horror, the action, the excitement, the pulse rifles of the Alien franchise and wish that you could be reading a story of it instead? Don't get me wrong, point and click adventure games are amazing, but this is hardly the franchise to turn into one. That's what poor gamers found out in 1995 with Aliens: A Comic Book Adventure, which is based on the Dark Horse Comics miniseries Aliens: Labyrinth. They took the plot of that acclaimed comic, which takes place on a research station that's investigating the aliens to figure out what makes them tick. Of course, one escapes thanks to the actions of a saboteur. It's a fine plot, a decent story that could make for some interesting moments, but they turned it into a juddery, ugly game. It's dull and full of dumb puzzles, and features some grid-based combat that's more frustrating than anything. This is a title that would be best frozen in stasis and sent off into the void.

Aliens Colonial Marines

16. Aliens: Colonial Marines (2013)

Platform: PS3, Xbox 360

Developer: Gearbox Software

Publisher: Sega

What happened here? Gearbox Software had unparalleled access to the Alien world. They were able to dust off old scripts and art for the project and create an actual canon sequel to Aliens...which is what this dreck sadly is. Remember in Aliens when the stranded marines were informed help was coming for them in 17 days? "Seventeen days? Hey man, I don't wanna rain on your parade, but we're not gonna last seventeen hours!" Well, you play the group of badasses that arrive after 17 days.

It's just a shame that the scariest thing about this game is how bad it is. Terrible graphics (that were infamously a downgrade from early trailers) combined with boring enemies, numerous unintentional bugs, and a feature-free and forgettable multiplayer mode make for a dismal experience. For developers that claim to love Aliens so much (and with their history of making fun FPS titles like Borderlands), it was completely unexpected how much of a trash experience this game was. This is what happens when you make a game to be fan service and have nothing to back it up.

avp extinction

15. Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction (2003)

Platform: PS2, Xbox

Developed by: Zono Incorporated

A real-time strategy game for this franchise is a fantastic idea. Think about it – they could have just piggybacked on Starcraft, since the races line up almost exactly. The Zerg are aliens, Protoss are Predators, Terrans are humans. It's too easy to mess up! Unfortunately, this was a console game back in the day when developers had no idea how to do RTS titles on console. Nowadays, thanks to wonderful user interfaces that allow us to enjoy X-Com titles and such, it's another thing. But back on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, you could expect a slow, annoying experience.

A sloppy UI isn't the only problem either – this is an RTS without base building (!) that features incredibly dumb units that never follow your commands. This is a genre that they should play around with a bit more, because there's so much potential there!

Aliens Versus Predator 2010

14. Aliens vs Predator (2010)

Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Developer: Rebellion Developments

Publisher: Sega

"Here's an idea! Lets take the most successful Aliens game of all time and remake it with nothing that made it good in the first place!"

Here is one of those modern FPSers where you are held by the hand and told what to do at every single stage. No matter if you pick the campaign for the Marines, Aliens or Predator, you'll have someone barking (or screeching) orders at you over a communicator and be forced to follow waypoints around the world in order to satisfy your masters. It's a shock, especially if you've played the original. This game looks nice, sure, but there's no atmosphere and no tension. There's some strange decisions in the campaigns as well. The marines only fight one predator during the campaign and they even manage to make the Alien Queen encounter boring!

Multiplayer is far more fun than the single player campaign but the negative reviews and server issues meant that it was hard to find matches. When they finally patched the game to make sure everything was in working order, everyone had moved on.

aliens the computer game

13. Aliens: The Computer Game (1986)

Platform: Commodore 64

Developer: Software Studios 

Publisher: Electric Dreams Software

This game is almost a prototype for first person shooters. You play Aliens: The Computer Game from the Command Center and have to switch over from monitor to monitor to keep an eye on your team of space marines, making sure that no aliens sneak up on them. Each character is stationary and you can look around their room, praying that the motion detector doesn't notice any aliens sneaking up behind you. There are waves of enemies, but for the most part, you're going to run out of ammo long before you get very far. It's a hard game, and one that really was unlike anything else at the time. The weirdest part? Burke (Paul Reiser's sniveling corporate stooge from Aliens) is one of the characters, and is armed and more than willing to kill specimens.

You can actually play an upgraded remake of this game here.

Aliens Externination

12. Aliens Extermination (2006)

Platform: Arcade

Developer and Publisher: Global VR

You're packing state of the art firepower and there's nothing that you can't handle. You've been trained for this. Just make sure you have lots of quarters.

Aliens Extermination is a fine arcade shooter, one whose cabinet features ridiculous guns with force feedback to grab and hundreds of enemies to cut to pieces with bullets. As far as these things go, you can't complain. You know what to expect from this. Of course enemies will pop up at the extremities of the screen and get off cheap shots that you won't be able to react to in time, all the better to keep you pumping in money to see the end. But destructible environments make for fun shooting if you go off the handle and there are lots of power-ups to grab and bosses to fight. It's perfectly fine, a decent way to waste some time at an arcade (they still have those?) or a movie theater before doing something else.

11. Alien (1984) 

Platform: Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum

Developer: Argus Press Software LTD

Publisher: Concept Software LTD

After that Pac-Man ripoff debacle, Concept Software swooped in to make a game that actually fit the original Alien license. You play a commander that's trying to keep the Nostromo crew alive, but there's a couple of kinks to contend with. Each game, a different character is infected with the Xenomorph, and another is selected to be the secret android that's trying to keep the alien alive. You  have to try and suss out the traitor and keep your crew alive, all the while directing them to safety from the alien threat. That is, if they'll listen to you – they can get demoralized and give up if they get too injured or scared. Keep that airlock handy and try to get as many survivors to the Narcissus, or even try and kill the xenomorph for good and bring the Nostromo back intact! Today, the game looks like a nightmare of icons and lines, but it's remarkable how faithful it is to the film experience.

Alien 3 The Gun

10. Alien 3: The Gun (1993)

Platform: Arcade

Developed and Published: Sega

Ahh, Alien 3, a movie everyone remembered because of its intense scenes of high powered weaponry! Yes, it's only when you take a step back from this impressive arcade cabinet with its two pulse rifles (that vibrate convincingly during shots!) that you remember that the film doesn't have a damn gun in it at all. Hence the tongue-in-cheek name here?

But it doesn't matter, since this is a pretty fun light gun shooter, even if it is fairly cheap. No matter your skill level, you'll end up with facehuggers covering up your screen, sucking away your health and your quarters. Fortunately, you have screen-clearing grenades at your disposal and it's a blast when you're side to side with a buddy, firing away (remember, short, controlled bursts). This is a faster-paced and more exciting game than Extinction. If you manage to find one, it'd be well worth dropping a few quarters in.

Alien Resurrection

9. Alien: Resurrection (2000)

Platform: PS1

Developer: Argonaut Games

Publisher: Fox Interactive

A spooky game that sees you slowly clanking around metal corridors, fearing the next xenomorph attack, this may be the only game on this list that's better than its film. Although that's not saying much in this case.

While it's got great sound design and graphics, the aliens all look chunky and hilarious, and the game doesn't even touch the level of lighting effects that had just come from Alien Versus Predator (expect that one later on the list). Plus, this is the age of the grey and brown shooter, when every single room looks the same and everything is just bring to look at.

It's somewhat ironic that this game was slammed upon release for its controls, which used the left analog stick to move and the right to aim, controls that Turok: Dinosaur Hunter innovated on the N64 years earlier. This would eventually become standard for every single modern first person shooter, but at the time, it confused players. It's just another way that the Alien franchise helped drive innovation in the gaming industry.

Aliens Konami Arcade

8. Aliens (1990)

Platform: Arcade

Developer and Publisher: Konami 

If you're looking for a faithful adaptation of the Aliens story, star far away from this arcade game. Neither Ripley or Hicks look anything like they should, and they both head into the alien Queen's nest to find Newt. But this side scrolling beat 'em up owes a lot to Contra (including some vertical stages), and takes liberties with the story, it delivers fun action. There's all kinds of new aliens, including some that fly and spit, and bosses that shoot out big orb-like projectiles. Oh, and there are zombies. But it doesn't really matter, since it's all about shooting everything that moves and it delivers on that front. Plus, it lets you jump in a power loader and mow down enemies for a level.

As far as sidescrollers go, it's a decent one one, but this game comes from an era when we were being inundated with them. Everyone from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the X-Men to The Simpsons were showing up as beat 'em up games at this point, and it was hard for Aliens to compete.

Alien Trilogy

7. Alien Trilogy (1996)

Platform: PS1, Saturn, PC

Developer: Probe Entertainment

Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment

It looks a little clunky now, and truthfully, it wasn't the best looking game on release, but Alien Trilogy still holds up as one of those fun old-school run-and-gun first person shooters. Upon release, this was one of the finest games for the original PlayStation, one that utilized everything about the franchise to its fullest potential. The sound design is impeccable, with all of the weapon and equipment sound effects coming through faithfully. The aliens, while of the 2D sprite variety, are a pain to contend with and you face tons of them.

This game owes a lot to Doom, which itself riffed off Aliens, so it's only fair. Much like that shooter, you can't look or aim up or down – your aim automatically corrects to fight facehuggers on the ground or xenomorphs on the walls. It's also vicious and doesn't care about killing you off with cheap enemies that jump at you and whittle away your health before you have the chance to react.

This "trilogy" doesn't really follow the events of the films, instead offering 30 levels that pick and choose from each movie and throws them into a non-stop action slurry. It's a shame it's not more readily available.

Aliens Infestation

6. Aliens: Infestation (2011)

Platform: Nintendo DS

Developer: WayForward/Gearbox Software 

Publisher: Sega

It's embarrassing that it took this long for a developer to realize that a Metroidvania title was a good fit for the Alien franchise. It's so obvious in retrospect!

Sadly, this game was released just as everyone was picking up the shiny new Nintendo 3DS, and it's still relatively unknown. But if you were let down by Metroid: Other M, this might have been just what you needed. It's not an exact clone, but it sure looks similar. You command a team of four marines, each of whom can die, permanently. You can find other marines to take their place, but still – it's hard to let them go. Every single playable character is unique, and their animations (as well as those of the aliens) are all great. Some control issues aside (those aliens are a lot faster than the marines!) this is a criminally underplayed title, and one that we can only hope gets revisited in the future.

Alien 3 Genesis

5. Alien 3 (1992)

Platforms: SNES, Genesis, Amiga

Developer: Probe Software

Publisher: Sega

There's no reason this game should have been as good as it was. This was the era of lousy movie tie-ins hitting Genesis and SNES every week, usually ripping off a more popular game, plopping in a film's main character and calling it a day.

Alien 3 did more. Sure, the game barely follows the plot of the movie – it's basically Ripley playing through Aliens with less hair – but it's exciting, scary, and frantic. It's a side-scrolling shooter that has you trying to save people from becoming the next alien incubators and struggling to find useful weapons and items. A time limit means you're constantly trying to move quickly to save your fellow prisoners. The SNES port is prettiest, but any version is amazing if you can get your hands on it.

Alien Vs Predator Arcade

4. Alien vs. Predator (1994)

Platform: Arcade

Developer and Publisher: Capcom

This side-scrolling beat 'em up would have been better titled Aliens vs Predators and Humans, as it sees the two races teaming up to fight an unstoppable threat. Three players can crowd around the arcade cabinet to play as one of four characters, two predators or two humans, and then you're off to kill hundreds of Xenomorphs.

And there really are hundreds of enemies – the game kicks off by positively filling the screen with them, although the drones go down pretty easy. Like Konami's previous Aliens game, it falls into the pit of the usual arcade-game cheap shots, but this game features some really fun battles and even sees you fighting against evil military soldiers who want to weaponize the alien. It helps that the characters all have different abilities, giving you reasons to try them all out until you find a favorite. Ostensibly a tie-in for the comic book which was itself a tie-in to the movie that never materialized until nearly a decade later, the game doesn't feel like an Alien game, but it sure is fun.

avp pinball

3. Aliens Vs Pinball (2016)

Platform: PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iOS, Android, Mac, PC

Developer and Publisher:  Zen Studios

Available via Zen Pinball 2 or as its own standalone game, this three-table pack somehow manages to capture the feel of each of the movies it's replicating.

First of all there's Aliens, a table whose ball launcher is the mobile command center and comes smashing through the bottom of the table. This is the fastest and most exciting table of the pack, one whose ramps guarantee that you're constantly in motion and trying to fight some new threat. Aliens Vs. Predator features all the "story" from the film. It's a slower, longer game with more hidden puzzles to unearth. There are magnets that mess with your aim and hidden areas to find.

The Alien Isolation table is stealth-based and all about precision shots. That sounds silly for a pinball game but it's true – occasionally, the alien will stalk the actual table, making you hit the ball to hide in a closet before it sees you and knocks some of your health off. Pop-up Android enemies can also haunt the board, and they spin around, allowing you to get a stealth attack on their backs. There's even puzzles that you'll have to crack to bypass doors and weapons to craft.

It all adds up to one of the most fun Zen Pinball packs, and oddly, one of the only Alien games that actually feels like Alien.

Aliens Versus Predator

2. Aliens Versus Predator (1999)

Platform: PC

Developer: Rebellion Developments

Publisher: Fox Interactive

This first person shooter is not only is this one of the finest Alien games ever made, it's still the best Predator game.

Three different campaigns allow you to to play as the Alien, Predator, or Space Marine, each of them offering a far different style of play and plot. This is a FPS before Half-Life and thus, it's unconcerned with cutscenes and events. It's all about killing lots of enemies and flipping switches as you go. But even today, this game makes you genuinely anxious, utilizing lighting effects to emphasize shadows and increase your fear of what may be lurking in them.

This is a remake of the Atari Jaguar version, which was known as the system's finest game, and is currently available under the title Aliens Versus Predator Classic 2000.

Alien Isolation Ripley

1. Alien Isolation (2014)

Platform: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Mac

Developer: Creative Assembly

Publisher: Sega

It took decades, but it turns out that bringing the series back to basics made for the most authentic Alien experience to date. After game after game that threw dozens upon dozens of aliens at you, Isolation offers you only...one.

While it's technically a sequel starring Amanda Ripley, Ellen Ripley's daughter (who Ellen finds out died while she was away in stasis between the first two films), this is still the most faithful Alien game ever made. The atmosphere it provides and sense of fear it invokes is better than most horror games and it just goes to show you how much of a terrifying experience the original film was in the first place. It's one thing to be an trained space marine armed with smart guns and shotguns, and quite another to be alone and hiding from something made for killing.

Fans would be smart to pick up the first DLC mission, called Crew Expendable, which retells the actual story of Alien with most of the original cast members providing their voices.