Everything you wanted to know about Alien Syndrome PSP (part 1)
Game's senior designer spills the beans
We're quite excited about the prospect of the Alien Syndrome, which is why, when we stumbled across Totally Games senior designer Jeff Kung's development blogs, we felt compelled to share the information we uncovered with you.
The concept behind the new version of the game (which is also being developed for Nintendo's Wii) was to bring the franchise to the 21st century, while putting the developer's own spin on the classic arcade shoot-'em-up, explains Kung.
"The original was purely an action game and we wanted to make sure we preserved that sense of action with our action RPG version of Alien Syndrome," he says. "We think we've struck a great synergy between action gameplay and deep, engrossing role-play gaming that's all driven by an intense storyline."
The plot sees main character Aileen Harding thrust into a sequence of harrowing adventures while attempting to unravel the mystery at the centre of the narrative. Her adventure has her travelling from locations such as earthquake-ravaged planets and an orbiting terra-forming station to an alien infected ship and uniquely styled, strange, new worlds.
"The gameplay for both the Wii and the PSP platform is essentially the same," promises Kung. "Both have huge 40 levels to play through. Both have the same fast paced action and deep RPG elements. There are 40 different monsters plus variants, sub-bosses, and bosses. Five player class types (Tank, Fire Bug, Sharp Shooter, Demolition, and Scout) are available for both platforms. And both have up to four-player cooperative modes [via ad hoc on PSP]."
Where the two versions alter, apparently, is with regards to control, with the PSP iteration designed for 'pick up and play', hence the emphasis on instant action.
However, Kung is keen to point out that isn't a suggestion the version for Sony's handheld has been restricted. "We've made the controls incredibly intuitive for the PSP. The player can strafe, perform melee combos… pretty much anything the Wii version can do, the PSP version of Alien Syndrome can do as well."
The difference comes from how the controls are implemented, together with other considerations such as numerous save checkpoints to ensure there is little worry about losing progress.
Currently, the game is in the final tuning process. "We're at the stage in production where all the elements of Alien Syndrome are in," Kung confirms, excitedly. "The art is beautiful. All the features are firing on all pistons. The only thing remaining is putting the final touches on balancing the game from level one to level 40, and from normal difficulty to expert difficulty."
Essentially, this means plenty of playtesting for certain members of the team. But that in itself is an encouraging procedure.
"One of the great things that's coming out of these playthroughs is that people are having fun playing and testing the game," reveals the senior designer. "That's a great sign for us because it seems that people are enjoying the game and not just playtesting because they have to."
Which seems a suitably positive place to end on today, but come back tomorrow to check out the concluding part, when we look at specific gameplay elements of Alien Syndrome (which is due for European release in early September).