Just when you thought it was game over for the small, independent games studio, a title like Alien Hominid appears out of space to remind us all that it doesn't take big bucks to be imaginative and fun.
Alien Hominid defies all logic. As a 2D side-scrolling shooter, it really shouldn't ooze with originality. Neither should its visuals jump off the screen or amaze you more than the majority of 3D shooters. The essential ingredient that makes all this magic happen is Dan Paladin's loveable characters and his unique style of animation. His cheerful yellow alien never stops being heart-meltingly cute, even when he's gleefully slicing up FBI agents with a machete or biting their heads off. It's the classic law of cartoons: cute creatures maiming each other never stops being funny.
Graphically, the entire game (even the menus) looks like it's been hand-drawn. Having a unique style is one thing, but more important is the laudable attention to detail. While some games have one simple death animation for enemies, the henchmen in Hominid can be cleaved, decapitated, disintegrated, crushed, run over, set on fire, frozen, smashed or even devoured by a yeti! Equally, the environments have reams of detail and funny things going on in the parallax-scrolling background.
Hominid's inventiveness doesn't stop at its graphics though; the little guy has some clever attacks to keep things interesting. He can burrow below ground and devour unsuspecting enemies as they stride overhead. Best of all, he can hop onto enemies' heads, riding them around in a piggyback of death. There are even a few driving and flying levels to mix things up. It all controls well enough, though things can get so colourful and chaotic that it can be hard to spot bullets hurtling towards you.
When it comes to difficulty, the game falls flat. Some of the later stages, and particularly the bosses, are fearsomely tough. Thankfully you have a few continues and can replay each level from the start if you run out, but 16 levels don't last long; usually about six or seven hours. To its credit, Behemoth has added several multiplayer mini-games and a bizarre little PDA-style sub-game, but you'll still have seen everything the game has to offer in a day.
Hominid has an abundance of style, spread thick over a fairly brief game. This is cute, blood-thirsty and very old-skool; exactly the kind of thing that makes you want to buy the T-shirt and plush Hominid dolls. It's only a matter of time...
Hominid is a bit like its title character - short but sweet. The difficulty is there but there's just not enough content overall.