I remember ALF. A television show from the 80's starring a strange midget-sized alien who crash-landed to Earth in the garage of the Tanner family. And a more mundane bunch of twats it'd be hard to find this side of the galaxy. See what I did there? Space jokes already! Anyway, Alf (the name given to him as an abbreviation of Alien Life Form) came from the planet Melmac, where it's standard for aliens to be furry obnoxious bastards who always say "Ha!" after every...single...damn...sentence. It's also standard for aliens on Melmac to survive on a diet of cats, and also to star in atrocious cartoon spin-offs after the main sitcom. Not to mention Project: ALF, which was a plain end to the whole Alf saga; being as it was a standard made-for-television movie about what happened to Alf after he was finally captured and - probably - saved from whatever sexual deviancy the Tanner family ritually subjected him to. Want to know what happens in the movie? Hint: Alf carried on saying "Ha!". But before the movie, before the spin-off cartoon, there was a game. Not just any game! Oh, no! This ugly, stupid game was an attempt by its producers to leech some money out of whatever weight the ALF franchise had in the financial world. And so an unsuspecting gaming public was graced with ALF: The First Adventure.
My guess is the producers probably made about $3 net profit. Amusingly, this game invites you to "hit the space bar" before starting. I did, several times, and despite the fact that the adventure proper began I kept on hitting the space bar. I am now the proud owner of a new keyboard. Eventually, after a trip to the keyboard shop (I'll end the lies now), I got the game started. I urge you to answer 'No' when it asks you whether you want instructions, because what you end up with is a damn essay telling you ever single aspect of the game. Whilst this is good because it means I knew what to do, it is also bad because it took something like 36 hours to get through reading. But I being the kind-hearted sort will summarise the information for you. Apparently, the aim of the game is to collect spaceship parts and cats, whilst avoiding the dog catcher (no, I don't remember a dog catcher being a prominent character in the sitcom either) and Willie Tanner, bald-headed patriarch of the Tanner family. There are four levels of this madness, and you have to complete each one before the fast-ticking clock reaches 24 hours. I don't think I even made it to five minutes.
Strangely, almost no-one has a body in this computerised version of the sitcom. Whilst cats are represented as their full body selves, Alf has no limbs, nor has Willie. They're just heads floating around a maze, which has various billboards promoting ALF and strange houses with 'Box Office' written all over them. Now, call me crazy (you so crazy, Gringo!) but if the Tanner family are trying to keep the presence of an alien in their home a secret, why do they allow billboards to reveal his identity to all and sundry? There's a running theme in this game, and it's quite simple to explain; the more confusion the better. For some reason, you need to be eating a pizza to be able to catch a cat. The game says this is because Alf needs to keep his strength up, but this ignores the fact that it's a lot harder to pick a cat up whilst holding a pizza than it is without food in your hands. This game runs so quickly even on the oldest computers around that you're not going to be able to have the pizza in your possession long enough to get near enough a cat to grab one of them. Instead, you can only sit there with a glazed look on your face as you watch the cats race by.
If you're unlucky enough to get Willie (hooray for juvenile humour!) then you'll lose everything you've collected on the level. All I managed to collect for the entire time I played was one cat. It did have humorous consequences, as when I managed to get hold of the cat a picture in the bottom left of the screen showed Alf holding said feline by the neck. I thought only Joe was that cruel. That's not the only danger. The dog catcher will impound Alf, yet the only way to be released is by Willie - your supposed nemesis. Headache increasing! Don't forget that if you walk into a trash can - and in this game the trash cans can move by themselves - you'll be stunned and frozen for a few minutes. But will anything entertaining happen? No! Will anything take place that will justify trying to manually slow down your computer just to get this game working at a reasonable pace? No! Stupid Alf! Damn him and his alien ways! Although the plot of this game - avoid body-less men called Willie and fix your spacecraft - is perhaps streets ahead of any episode of the sitcom. Or the aforementioned Project: ALF for that matter.
High scores in this game (I got nowhere near one) are recorded on something called the Melmac Skleen Club board, with the ultimate goal of getting a higher score than the mysterious G. Shumway. At this point I stopped fighting my confusion and just accepted whatever crap this game threw at me. Melmac Skleen? SHAMPO HAZABAX, WIZZLE SCOOP! Did you know that Listen To Me's very own Ross happens to be the small child out of the sitcom ALF? Yes, Ross played Brian Tanner, son to Willie and all-round irritating little git. Well, no, you can probably guess that he didn't, but I don't want to keep on writing about this stupid computer game. I'd much rather fill this review with pointless blatant lies like the one above. It's an awful, awful game with very little in the enjoyment factor stakes. For a game that runs ridiculously fast, movement of Alf himself is rather slow and it makes the whole experience that much more miserable. And as for a soundtrack, well, look at the graphics. This game comes from the days when a few static beeps from your computer's nether regions was considered a quality tune. There's not even a badly done version of the ALF theme! Controversy!
So I didn't get very far with this game. In fact, I got captured by the dog catcher enough times to drive me insane. Do you get a nice cut-scene when the game's over? No. You get a picture of Alf, standing on two legs (hello, clever dog catcher - a dog who stands on his hind legs all the time? Sense? None!) saying "This is humiliating." Funnily enough, that's exactly how I felt, and for the next day I looked at my computer with a kind of guilty regret, knowing I'd infested it with this game. I soon got over that, as the game over screen says "Please hit the space bar", which I continued to do until another trip to the keyboard shop became essential. Ominously, the game was - as has been established - called ALF: The First Adventure, which creates the threat of further adventures. Thankfully, I haven't managed to find any more Alf-related computer games out there. I think whoever made the first game learnt their lesson and decided not to risk the public wrath of a sequel. Oh, and because I didn't write this review all at once, I managed to find out that G. Shumway stands for Gordon Shumway, which is apparently Alf's real name. So why not just call the sitcom Shumway, you dense television land fuckwits?
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