The coolest game I’ve never played
Strategos RiskParticipantJuly 20, 2023 at 1:27 am #7675
Great episode, and the points about how reading the manual was more fun than playing the game, and how the story was really the driving force of it (and its saving grace), really rang true to me. Coincidentally, I had written a long retrospective on it around the time the episode was released.
Growing up, the Official Player’s Guide was available at my library, and I devoured it without ever getting my hands on a copy of the game. When I finally tried it out from Home of the Underdogs (RIP), I quickly realized the clunky interface wasn’t for me. But thanks to John Sauer’s guide, I was absolutely enthralled by the idea of the game. It’s a shame that it seems to have completely disappeared from the face of the Earth, but the guide was very fun, and very detailed. From it, I learned all about the unique events and failure conditions that was in the game, like the advisor mutinies, and the whole pyrrhic choice you had to make to stop the biota wildlife from attacking you.
But there were even more subtleties that you might not have been aware of. As I mention in the review, Alien Legacy uniquely features several technologies that you could research that are complete duds. They’re red herrings that end up yielding no value to your game, other than a joke about shiitake mushroom steaks. As frustrating as that might be for a player, that’s a nice nod to how in the real world, you can’t expect an advancement all of the time.
Another thing I like is the descriptions of the different science resources you can gather. While its proto-Mass Effect exploring sections might be tedious, at least they add a little more character to the game, even if harvesting math units doesn’t really make sense.
I really enjoyed the episode and appreciate it for covering the immersion and neat narrative touches that Alien Legacy provides, from the descriptions in the treasure hunt for Tantalus clues, to the fully-voiced advisors. (I still think that if it was made today, the advisors’ personality descriptions and bios should be part of the gameplay- they could react differently to one another, dating sim anyone? Speaking of Mass Effect.)
I also find it funny how the entire backstory with the Centaurian invasions happens completely off-screen and isn’t really relevant to the game at all other than the rationale for why the Calypso was launched, and the urgency of your mission. All of the other details isn’t really relevant. But it has its charms as the sort of manual-only lore that games of that era loved to provide as reading material.
Anyway, great episode! I wish you guys could cover Outpost and Outpost 2, as they were space colony management sims that I actually did play a ton of, and serve as very interesting contrasts to Alien Legacy as fellow Sierra On-Line titles that came out around the same time. But they’re both Windows games. Ah well. My only question is- did anyone besides me see any similarities between AL and Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri?
TijnKeymasterPodcasterJuly 24, 2023 at 8:40 pm #7686
Thanks for sharing this! I got your email as I indeed didn’t notice this forum post. Also thanks for sharing your retrospective, I’ll share it through our mastodon so more people might see it 🙂
consoleParticipantJuly 24, 2023 at 9:14 pm #7687
Great post, Strategos Risk. I wasn’t aware of the similarities between AL and Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.
AL also inspired me more that I first suspected. I constantly think about the premise. You have a mission and when you wake up from hibernation, you find out that another ship has been sent shortly afterwards and will arrive earlier because of to newer tech… but there is no other ship.
The lack of Centaurians really emphasises the desolation: You’re so far away that no one can reach you. Not even the enemy.
tamsin.lmParticipantJuly 25, 2023 at 12:04 am #7688
The fact that I hadn’t even noticed that some research doesn’t yield a mechanical advantage makes me feel slightly awkward. Lol I think I was just so wrapped up in the setting and perhaps me being a little completionist that I was always excited to complete a tech regardless of it’s usefulness.
A bit like XCom. Having certain research topics that are just flavor text.
Glad to know another AL fan!
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