Alpha Mission is Space-Themed Shoot-em-Up #347. With no discernible features, the shooter exits your brain as soon as the NES is turned off.
Alpha Mission has names and a plot, of course. You play as fighter pilot “SYD” charged with saving Earth. The galaxy is being ripped apart, you’re the only one who can bind the universe back together, fate of everything rests in your deadly guns, and so on. At the outset, SYD moves slow, fires slow. Only by acquiring power-ups found in pyramid structures will SYD move faster, shoot faster. But beware the bizarro power-ups, backwards letters that decrease your energy, power, and warp you backwards in the game.
The backgrounds are abstract space stations, the enemies are other ships and weird circular objects that move in freaky, disorienting patterns. SYD has an air attack and ground attack, a la Xevious, so that’s something. Truthfully, the shooting isn’t terrible in Alpha Mission, but the game conveys a weariness, like it couldn’t be bothered to venture beyond mediocrity.
In Japan, Alpha Mission was called Armored Scrum Object. What’s a scrum, you ask? Fantastic question. In fact, forget playing Alpha Mission. Unlocking the meaning of scrum is a much better use of your time
PUBLISHER/DEVELOPER: SNK GENRE: Shoot-em-up
RELEASE DATE: 09/03/86 – (JP), 10/1987 – (US), 1987 – (EU)
ALSO AVAILABLE ON: ARC, PSP, PS4, Switch