Alien vs Predator (Atari Jaguar video game)

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Alien vs Predator
Cover art in all regions by Andrew H. Denton
Developer(s)Rebellion Developments
Publisher(s)Atari Corporation
Producer(s)James Hampton
Designer(s)Dan McNamee
Lance J. Lewis
Sean Patten
Programmer(s)Andrew Whittaker
Mike Beaton
Artist(s)Jeffrey Gatrall
Stuart Wilson
Toby Harrison-Banfield
Writer(s)Chris Hudak
Lance J. Lewis
Composer(s)James Grunke
Michael Stevens
Nathan Brenholdt
SeriesAlien vs. Predator
Platform(s)Atari Jaguar
  • EU: October 20, 1994
  • NA: October 21, 1994
Genre(s)First-person shooter

Alien vs Predator is a 1994 first-person shooter developed by Rebellion Developments and published by Atari Corporation for the Atari Jaguar. It was also distributed in Japan by Mumin Corporation, where it became a pack-in game for the console. It is the first entry in the Alien vs. Predator franchise developed by Rebellion. Taking place in a simulation depicting the fall of the Golgotha training base camp, the game offers three playable scenarios: Alien, Predator, or a human of the Colonial Marines. The player is presented with a series of interconnected sublevels and ships to progress through. Each character has different objectives, abilities, weapons, and disadvantages.

Alien vs Predator originally began as a corridor-based shooter for Atari Lynx that was under development by Images Software, featuring references to Dark Horse Comics' Aliens vs. Predator comic book series, but was cancelled as Atari focused its resources on the Jaguar. Production was later restarted, initially intended to be a port of the beat 'em up game of the same name developed by Jorudan for SNES, but was retooled into a first-person shooter when Atari submitted the proposal to 20th Century Fox and Activision, commissioning Rebellion to work on the game. It was produced by James Hampton, being one of his first projects when starting work for Atari after departing Lucasfilm Games.

Alien vs Predator garnered generally favorable reception from critics, earned several awards from gaming publications and sold 52,223 copies by 1995, becoming the system's killer app. Atari had opened discussions with Beyond Games about their interest in developing a sequel for the Atari Jaguar CD, but dropped out of these negotiations shortly before the Jaguar was officially discontinued. A Jaguar CD conversion was also in the planning phase but never moved forward, though ideas provided by Atari to 20th Century Fox for this unreleased version were later used in Aliens Versus Predator (1999). Retrospective commentary has been equally favorable and is cited as one of the best games for the platform.


Top: Alien gameplay.
Middle: Predator gameplay.
Bottom: Colonial Marine gameplay.

Alien vs Predator is a first-person shooter game similar to Wolfenstein 3D (1992), presented with digitized graphics on a rudimentary 3D environment.[1] The plot takes place in a simulation depicting the fall of the Golgotha training base camp; an unknown vessel approaches the base and is retrieved for further examination. The camp is quickly overrun by Aliens as soon as the vessel is aboard, leading to the evacuation of civilians, recruits and personnel from the area. The remaining Colonial Marines go into defensive positions in an attempt to protect the base from xenomorphs, while sending an emergency distress signal requesting for backup. A Predator ship looms over the horizon from their home planet, preparing itself to board the station after receiving the signal, seizing the opportunity to hunt down xenomorphs.[2]

The game offers three playable scenarios: Alien, Predator, or a human of the Colonial Marines. Each character has different objectives, abilities, weapons, and disadvantages, while the player is presented with a series of interconnected sublevels and ships to progress through.[1][2][3] When playing as an Alien, the main objective is to rescue the Alien queen, who is being held captive on a Predator spaceship. The player must kill Colonial Marines and Predators along the way in order to reach the queen. The Alien is unable to heal itself from injuries and instead "cocoons" Marines; if an Alien dies, a previously cocooned Marine will spawn a new Alien, allowing the player to continue from that location. The Alien is unable to use elevators and instead travels between sublevels through air ducts.[1][2][3]

When playing as a Predator, the main objective is to reach and kill the Alien queen to claim her skull. The Predator can use elevators to travel between sublevels but cannot travel through air ducts. The Predator can use a cloaking device to become invisible from Marines but not the xenomorphs. The scoring and weapon systems are based on how the player kills enemies; the Predator is initially equipped with a wrist blade but killing enemies while visible result in an increase of "honor" points, allowing access to extra arsenal such as a close-range combi stick, a smart disc, and a shoulder cannon. Conversely, killing enemies while invisible results in a loss of points and lose access to weapons. The player can lose health by stepping over the Alien's acid blood after being killed and can get attacked by Facehuggers. The player carries a health pak, which is refilled by collecting food and medical kits, and use it later to regain health.[1][2][3]

When playing as private Lance J. Lewis of the Colonial Marines, the player's main objective is to escape from Golgotha, which has been invaded by Aliens and Predators, activate the base's self-destruct mechanism and exit the area in an escape pod. Lewis awakes in the base's brig after a cryosentence for strike offence at an officer and has no weapons, security clearance, or motion tracker. The player must find weapons from deceased Marines like a shotgun, a pulse rifle, a flamethrower, and a smart gun in order to fend off enemies. The player can traverse sublevels through elevators and air ducts, and must also find security cards from deceased personnel to access other areas within the base's sublevels. Lewis can also collect food and medical kits scattered across the base to recover health, but cannot store them unlike the Predator.[1][2][3]

The player must also conserve as much ammo as possible in order to defend themselves, as Lewis cannot carry ammunition found on the base as well. Lewis can use computer terminals around the sublevels and medical laboratories to learn about the backstory of the base and recover health respectively, but the final amount of health possible depends on which security card the player possesses.[1][2][3] Like the Predator, Lewis can lose health by stepping on acid blood and get attacked by Facehuggers. Once a character's health is depleted, the game is over.[2] Progress is manually saved into one of three save slots, while high scores and other settings are kept via the game's internal EEPROM. However, killed enemies are revived and item placement is randomly determined each time the player resumes progress.[1][2][3]


Alien vs Predator was created by Rebellion Developments, a Oxford-based game developer founded in 1992 by brothers Jason and Chris Kingsley.[4][5][6][7][8] Its foundation was laid when the brothers secured a deal with Atari Corporation; Rebellion presented a demo for Atari Falcon, which depicted flying dragons against longships to the publisher's directors, whom sought games for Atari Jaguar. They were commissioned to work on AVP and Checkered Flag (1994) after being impressed with their previous release, Eye of the Storm (1993) for PC.[6][7][8][9][10] It was produced by James Hampton, a developer who had worked at Lucasfilm Games before departing to Atari, being one of his first projects when starting work for the company in 1992.[11][12][13][14][15] Andrew Whittaker (now Jane Whittaker) and Mike Beaton acted as programmers, with Mike Pooler providing additional coding.[2][9][10][16][17] According to Hampton, the project originally began as a corridor-based shooter for Atari Lynx that was under development by British studio Images Software, featuring characters and locations in reference to Dark Horse Comics' Aliens vs. Predator comic book series. Images Software created a demo that featured the Predator and a human of the Colonial Marines but lacked the Alien as a playable character, however the game was put on hold and later cancelled as Atari focused its resources on the Jaguar.[11][12][14][15]

Screenshot from the unreleased Atari Lynx version of Alien vs Predator

Work on the project restarted as Atari was ramping up production of games for the Jaguar, initially intended to be a port of the beat 'em up game of the same name developed by Jorudan for SNES, but Hampton and Rebellion both felt it did not represent the franchise's universe and characters properly.[4][12][14][15] Hampton then submitted a retooled design proposal to 20th Century Fox and Activision, which labeled it as a first-person shooter with the ability to play either of the three characters without elements from the comic book series.[12][14][15] The decision of three playable characters was an idea from the Kingsley brothers.[12] Atari also shared with Rebellion the original design documents from the Lynx version, along with concepts by their internal team.[14] Hampton acknowledged Wolfenstein 3D and Doom (1993) as the game's influences, due to him and Atari encouraging the staff to play similar titles.[12] Alien vs Predator was initially developed in-house by Rebellion, whose team was expanded to assist with other projects, including Whittaker assisting with programming its gameplay engine with Beaton, who also wrote the graphics engine.[9][18][19][20] Hampton revealed that the game's then-low budget caused issues during production, leading it to be delayed in order to bring the team to Atari and finish development.[14][15]

Lewis claimed its gameplay was initially similar to Doom but Hampton felt each playthrough could be more dynamic, handing the level design reins to him and designers at Atari; Andrew Keim, Dan McNamee, Hank Cappa, Hans Jacobsen, and Sean Patten served as co-level designers.[2][17][21][22][23] They came up with the plot and object placement as well as directing the game's flow.[22] Lewis also acted as co-writer along with Chris Hudak.[2] Lewis recalled the Atari staff were given freedom and strived to portray a non-linear feel, designing each level for all three campaigns to allow the player finish the game in various ways.[22] The Colonial Marine is named after Lewis.[22][24][25] The staff was also encouraged to watch the movies for reference.[12] The game runs between 10 and 15 frames per second, with in-game visuals being displayed at a 16-bit color format, while cutscenes and static screens are rendered at a 24-bit color format.[10][9][18] The Jaguar's Blitter and GPU processors are used to draw surfaces and handle calculations respectively.[10] The Alien's AI, dubbed "Alien Chess", was written by Whittaker and its function is to activate enemies when the player approached them.[12]

Art design[edit]

Alien vs Predator initially made use of hand-drawn graphics but were deemed not realistic enough by the Kingsley brothers, opting instead to use tile panels for the texture-mapped graphics and model figures for sprites.[4][10][12][14][9] The idea of photographing built models came from both Wilson and Harrison-Banfield.[16][19][26][27][28] Jeffrey Gatrall, and Keoni Los Baños were also responsible for the artwork.[2][17] Characters and tiles began with a series of production sketches drawn by Rebellion's art team, using the drawings as a starting basis to create models and tiles.[10][16][26] Walls, ceilings, and floors were made from scratch using 5x5 inch tiles made up from various materials such as latex, wax, and resin, with one particular tile created for the kitchen areas having drinking straws as pipes running across, while the details were then airbrushed. The tiles were later photographed and digitized using a 35mm camera.[10][9][16][26][28]

This process was also applied to character models, using the same materials as the titles but created as a mix of custom-made models and off-the-shelf kits from a local shop.[10][9][16][26] Each animation were then filmed using the models through the process of stop motion and digitization.[12][19] Patten built replicas of the movies' costumes and props due to being a fan of the franchise. Patten was then digitized using the costume for the Colonial Marine's animations, while the character's HUD portrait is from his likeness.[12][15][9][19] All the graphics were compressed using "JagPEG", an adaptation of the JPEG format by Atari, which compresses art assets into approximately an 8:1 ratio without loss of the picture's quality.[10][18][19] Both the cover art for packaging and the title screen were rendered in LightWave 3D by freelance artist Andrew H. Denton.[2][29]


Alex Quarmby, James Grunke, Michael Stevens, Nathan Brenholdt, Paul Foster, Tom Gillen, and Will Davis were in charge of the game's music and sound effects.[2][17] Many of the sound effects and voices samples in Alien vs Predator were provided by Atari's audio department, in addition to films from the Alien and Predator franchises.[14][15][25] The sound when an Alien cocoons a Colonial Marine was done by McNamee, who took a bite out of an apple.[21][23] The Colonial Marine's voiceovers were performed by Grunke, who was head of Atari's audio department.[15][25] The voice heard in the game's computer terminals was recorded by Sandra Miller, wife of former Atari vicepresident and VM Labs founder Richard Miller.[12] The Alien screams were recorded from Richard Miller's then-newborn child.[25]


Alien vs Predator was first showcased to the public during a 1993 press conference hosted by Atari Corporation at Sunnyvale, California, being one of the first titles officially announced for the Atari Jaguar.[30][31][32][33][34] Early previews prior to release showcased several graphical differences compared to the final version.[35][36] The game made its first trade show appearance at the 1994 Winter Consumer Electronics Show,[37][38][39] and later at the 1994 Summer CES prior to release.[40][41][42] It was originally slated for a January 1994 launch and then rescheduled for a Q2 1994 release but was later delayed, with memory constrains being cited as one of the main reasons.[15][35][43]

Alien vs Predator was first released Europe on October 20, 1994, and a day later in North America.[44][45][46] In France, the game was distributed by Accord.[47] It was also distributed in Japan on December 8 by Mumin Corporation, where it became a pack-in game for the Jaguar.[48][49][50] A Jaguar CD conversion tentatively titled Alien vs. Predator: The CD was announced to be released in February 1996, but it never moved forward beyond the planning stages.[14][23][51][52] In 2001, a prototype ROM image of the unreleased Atari Lynx version in a mostly finished state was leaked online.[53][54] A virtual reality version that supported the never-released Jaguar VR headset was also under development but it went unreleased.[55][56]


Alien vs Predator was one of the most high-profile and eagerly awaited Atari Jaguar titles after several delays,[66][69] garnering generally favorable reception from critics and being regarded as the system's killer app.[58][59][61][77][78] Internal documentation from Atari showed that the game had sold 52,223 copies by April 1, 1995, though a July 1995 supplement issue by Edge magazine tells that over 85,000 copies were sold worldwide.[79][80] GamesMaster's Marcus Hawkins applauded the game's atmospheric visuals, sound effects, playability, and replay value of the three campaigns.[64] Computer and Video Games' Mark Patterson and Rik Skews gave very high marks to the graphics and gameplay, but found the game's audio as its most disappointing aspect.[44] Digital Press' Edward Villapando lauded its sound design and replay value, but noted that the game initially seemed long and difficult.[67]

Conversely, Edge compared it unfavorably with Doom (1993).[58] Electronic Games' Steven L. Kent also noted similarities with Doom and Wolfenstein 3D due to the game's engine. Kent praised its gameplay, presentation, and realistic depiction of the Aliens and their speed, but criticized the low resolution of characters and objects when approached closely as well as the control layout.[68] Electronic Gaming Monthly's four reviewers commended the ability to play with three characters but they felt the game did not captured the same elements that made Doom and Wolfenstein 3D popular, criticizing its controls as well as the "choppy" animations and frame rate.[59] Games World's four reviewers gave positive remarks to the texture-mapped visuals, choice of three characters, and sound but were ultimately unimpressed and disappointed with the game, faulting its "empty" gameplay and slow pacing.[70]

In contrast, GameFan's Dave Halverson and Frank Martinez Jr. found the game more strategic than Doom, praising its audiovisual representation of the movies and controls.[63] Game Players regarded it as a Doom rip-off, noting the game's lack of originality, but praise was given for being faithful to the AVP franchise and authentic depiction of each character.[62] GamePro's Manny LaMancha commented favorably regarding the gameplay scenarios, photo-realistic graphics, "creepy" sound, and balanced controls.[77] Ultimate Future Games found the Colonial Marine campaign much simpler compared to the Alien and Predator campaigns, citing the variety of weapons. They highlighted its tense atmosphere and detailed visuals, but faulted the level design.[72] VideoGames' Jim Loftus lauded the game's realistic graphics, digitized sound effects lifted from the movies, and gameplay but criticized the complexity of each map.[73]

ST Review's Nial Grimes applauded the overall audiovisual presentation, movie-style atmosphere and tension, and gameplay. Nevertheless, Grimes saw the harmful acid blood pool left by Aliens and the Predator campaign to be the game's negative points.[71] Next Generation commented that playing as the Marine felt movie-like and found the Predator scenario as the easier of the three campaigns, but negatively noted the slow loading times and cumbersome controls.[65] Game Zero Magazine's two reviewers echoed similar opinions as most reviewers, lauding the digitized backgrounds and character models, and gameplay. They noted the slow movement of both the Marine and Predator, and lack of in-game music, which they felt it added to the game's suspense.[69]

The Electric Playground's Victor Lucas agreed, citing the "claustrophobic" atmosphere due to lack of music during gameplay and the three scenarios. Lucas regarded it as one of the best Jaguar games alongside Doom and Tempest 2000.[60] AllGame's Colin Williamson praised the multiple campaigns and level design, writing that "All in all, Alien vs. Predator is one of the few must-buy titles for the Jaguar, and is certainly worth checking out if you're a fan of first-person shooters."[57] Atari Gaming Headquarters' Keita Iida concurred with Williamson, calling it "a terrific effort that displays the hardware prowess of the Jaguar."[66]


Game Players named Alien vs Predator as "Best Jaguar Game" of 1994.[74] GameFan named it "Best Action/Adventure" game on the Jaguar in their third Megawards edition.[75] VideoGames also named it "Best Jaguar Game" of 1994, over Doom and Tempest 2000.[76] Flux magazine ranked the game 60th on their "Top 100 Video Games."[81] In 1996, ST Format regarded it as one of the ten best games for the Jaguar.[82] GamesTM regarded it as one of the six best games for the Jaguar.[83] Retro Gamer also deemed it one of the ten best games for Jaguar.[84] HobbyConsolas identified it as one of the twenty best games for the platform.[85] GameTrailers named Alien vs Predator as one of the "Top Ten Scariest Games". They noted that while creepy on its own, the early hardware of the Jaguar did not allow the player to notice an enemy sneaking up on them, and with little other noise to warn the player.[86] Prima Games also ranked the game 29th on their "50 Scariest Video Games of All Time" feature.[87] In 2023, Time Extension listed it as one of the best games on Jaguar.[88]

Retrospective coverage[edit]

Retrospective commentary for Alien vs Predator on Atari Jaguar has been equally favorable.[89][90][91] Writing for MyAtari magazine, Robert Jung lauded the game's story concept, three playable characters, involving gameplay, and overall audiovisual presentation but saw the choppy turning movement, lack of a run button, and inability to configure the controls as shortcomings.[92] Author Andy Slaven agreed, writing that "this dark and atmospheric corridor shooter still manages to impress today's jaded gamers with its smooth graphics and gameplay."[93]'s Jeremy Parish recommended it as an alternative to Aliens: Colonial Marines (2013), though he expressed that the game has not aged well.[94] Rice Digital's Pete Davison concurred with Parish, finding it dated and "clunky" by modern standards. Regardless, Davison found the game's open-structure design intriguing in contrast to its linear level-based contemporaries, and lamented its exclusion from the Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration compilation.[95]


After Alien vs Predator was released on the market, Atari Corporation had opened discussions with Beyond Games about their interest in developing a sequel planned for the Jaguar CD titled Alien vs Predator 2: Annihilation, however Atari dropped out of these negotiations shortly before they officially discontinued the Jaguar platform.[96][97] An unfinished model of the Alien intended for the sequel is owned by Beyond Games' de facto successor - Smart Bomb Interactive (now WildWorks).[98]

Rebellion Developments would go on to develop other games in the Alien vs. Predator franchise such as Aliens Versus Predator (1999) for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, which used ideas that were provided by Atari to 20th Century Fox for the unreleased Alien vs. Predator: The CD for Jaguar CD.[4][23][14] In 2008, the source code of Alien vs Predator was released by hobbyist community Jaguar Sector II under a CD compilation called Jaguar Source Code Collection.[99][100]

In 2019, an unofficial Unreal Engine 4 remake by developer Shane Ruetz for Windows was made available online for free.[101][102]


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