As the game begins, Aliens are overwhelming the city. Our two human heroes are surrounded, their future looking grim. Suddenly, a ball of plasma bursts in the assembled Alien army, and the Predators appear. In the true spirit of cooperation, the otherworldly hunters team up with the humans to take down the Alien threat. As the game progresses, the allies take down a host of Aliens, discover a villainous plot, and even have a run-in with “mad” Predators who are very tough to defeat. Of course, fighting the Alien Queen is the main attraction, and fighting her is another one of the games many highlights.
AvP features both melee and ranged combat, as was common in Capcom games at the time. Players can punch or use spears, knives, and the like when the Aliens get up close and personal. Attacking from a safe distance is ideal, and each character has a ranged weapon, like the Predators’ shoulder cannons. To offset the efficiency of these guns, an overheat/reload mechanic is employed. Good players will balance melee and shooting to better keep the screen clear. Various other weapons can be picked up, too, ranging from submachine guns to flamethrowers and even chainguns. All the various methods available to reduce Aliens to piles of acidic goo make the game quite enjoyable from start to finish.
Alien Vs. Predator is an amazing game, but there is one nagging problem that brings it down from perfection. Though there are four playable characters, the game does not support more than three players at a time. The default AvP cabinet allowed for three players, but it wasn’t uncommon to see the game installed in an older cabinet with only two joysticks. It is a rather inexplicable design decision, for sure. In the era of Konami’s 6 player X-Men and various four player games like The Simpsons, TMNT, and Sunset Riders, what possible reason could there have been for a three player limit? It’s a shame, but it says a lot for the quality of the game that this is its only flaw.
Though there have been many Alien and Predator games through the years, some good and some not, Capcom’s Alien Vs. Predator is one of the best. It is a textbook example of the 90s side-scrolling brawler/shooter genre. The game is exciting, and very fan-friendly in that it remains respectful of the source material while expanding on it in a logical way. Though it is unlikely due to licensing issues, it would be fantastic if Alien vs. Predator showed up for download in Capcom Arcade Cabinet. In any event, if you ever happen across the game in the wild, do yourself a favor and plop in a few quarters. It is a Co-Op Classic in the truest sense of the term.