If you fancy yourself hardcore, this is the game to prove it. The graphics may be splashy, modern flash animations, but the side-scrolling shooter gameplay is a brutally hard, tear-inducingly old-school, one-hit-kill festival of tiny, quick bullets. Are you a casual gamer? Run. This game hates you.
But if you did that, you'd be missing out. The game's wacky, colorful art style lives somewhere between Itchy & Scratcy and Lilo & Stitch, and your little, crash-landed alien oozes acid-tinted charisma and charm as he freezes, incinerates, and otherwise carves up huge armies of men in black, military hardware and giant robots.
The action itself has a classic run-and-gun blastathon feel, in the same vein as the original Contra - at least, until you get to the outer space portions. Those who do learn the nuances of your alien's moves and weapons (it's deeper than you think) and figure out the enemy patterns and settle down enough to work their way through the game will be rewarded with screen-filling bosses, thumb-blistering game play, and a selection of unlockable hats. Seriously. Hats.
Plus, if you're totally weak sauce, you can dial the difficulty down to so-called easy. In fact, that might be a good idea just so you can spend more time taking in the visuals. Alien Hominid's flashy, splashy 2D graphics might not look like much in still shots, but it's damn impressive in motion. Or, if flash-based graphics aren't your bag, take a look at the various minigames that can be unlocked. They look and feel delightfully retro, in a PDA-circa-1993 kind of way. It's also possible to call in a friend for some single-system co-op action.
In fact, besides being a bit too hard for its own good, the only other real hit against Alien Hominid is that co-op play over Xbox Live has been sadly left out. It sucks having to find shooting partners in your own living room when there's a whole community on the information superhighway that are just waiting to join you in your quest to destroy the FBI and get your space ship back.
Still, Alien Hominid is a really nice change of pace from the slightly crusty arcade classics that have been hitting Live Arcade for the past month or so. For this price, you just can't go wrong.