But it's the bosses you'll really remember. Who could forget a giant pudding monster that is immune to your weapons? Or the mean FBI robot the size of a large building, with a sign on his chest that says "Do Not Damage Head". My personal favorite was an enormous Russian flying mech who used a hammer and sickle to beat you down. Each boss requires a particular method to defeat it beyond just spamming blaster fire indiscriminately, reminiscent of the classic Mega Man series. I won't spoil any more of the boss bottles in this review, let's just say they are easily as good as those of Castle Crashers, which is high praise indeed.
The co-op play is very solid. You and one friend can team up to take down your opponents. At first it was a bit difficult to tell which alien was which, but as you play, you unlock new hats. Some are stylish, some are just plain odd. I opted for a chef's hat, and my son chose a pirate hat, and the black and white contrast made it much easier to keep on top of things amid the chaos. There are many sections where teamwork is essential, in particular the driving sequence, and the flying sections. Many boss battles have regular enemies attacking you, and having one player keep the little guys beat down while the other takes on the boss is quite effective. Sadly, there is no online co-op in the campaign. You can play four player co-op, online or local, in the PDA minigames , but the meat of the game is obviously the alien story mode. The claim of 4 player online co-op is a bit deceptive, so keep it in mind when purchasing. Castle Crashers is the better co-op game, though Alien Hominid holds its own nicely.
The last thing I must mention is probably the first thing that you'll notice when playing. Alien Hominid HD is hard, brutally so. It is old school in the truest sense. It is similar to Contra or the first NES TMNT game, in that you feel lucky to get through a level. We failed the first level probably three or four times on Normal before we scaled the difficulty level for both of us down to Easy. Even then, the game is rough, though not frustratingly so. Your alien is cute and has lots of abilities, but a life bar isn't one of them. One hit from a stray bullet, a lick of flame, or contact with an enemy and you lose a life. The amount of lives and continues you get varies by difficulty level. We found that we could play through about a level and a half to two levels before one of us got the dreaded "Game Over". Thankfully, you can load any level you've unlocked when this happens. If I were playing with my older son, Normal may have been doable, but even playing on Easy, there was a nice sense of accomplishment.
Alien Hominid HD is a real treat for fans of co-op brawlers of yesterday. The always pleasing art style, whimsical gameplay, and cartoony cut scenes will keep you playing. The authentically retro difficulty might turn some off, but there is a solid co-op experience to be had here. The lack of online co-op is the most glaring omission on what is otherwise one of the finest XBLA titles.
The Co-Op Experience: Play through the game's story mode with a friend, or play co-op mini games with four people.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.