Before they were absorbed by Sony, Psygnosis were responsible for publishing some interesting games. Attack of the Saucerman, the sole release from Fube Industries Ltd, was an attempt at morphing the sci-fi stylings of a 1950s B-movie with an action-heavy mascot platformer. With Mars Attacks and Men in Black hitting cinemas, the late 90s had something of a renaissance of flying saucer schlock, the latter of which appears to be a heavy inspiration here. With its 2000 release (a year after the PlayStation original), did it miss the B-movie boat?
The game opens on a little flying saucer orbiting our earth. You are Ed, an alien everyman employed by the Grimloid Protection League that is content sitting down watching terrestrial TV (literally) while your small crew of one goes about their tasks. An alarm disturbs his viewing and he sarcastically addresses Zunk, the ship's mechanic, to demand why. The hapless duo are being contacted by the leader of the Grimloid Homeworld (cheekily referred to as ‘Egg head’ by Ed). There's an errant faction called NEDCO led by the nefarious Big Bubba who are looking to colonise Earth for the sole purpose of farming NEDs. These little yellow creatures are the premier source of food back home and soon Planet Earth - which you have been tasked to protect - will be overrun by the blighters.
View your ship's Jukebox to play the game's excellent soundtrack (left)
Checkpoints a spaced out just nicely (right)
You are tasked with preventing this from happening as it would alter the balance of power in the Grimloid Empire. Being the only Grimloid-owned ship in the area, Ed is entrusted with this dangerous mission, assuring the ‘Egg head’ that he's on it if only to go back to watching TV. Unfortunately, before he can do that he's shot down by Big Bubba, crash-landing on earth just outside an area numbered 51.
You wake up in Area 51 being probed by earth’s scientists who immediately scatter in fear. Luckily, Ed hasn’t been disarmed and is able to use his disintegrator ray to makes his way out of the lab and further into the facility. Your robot companion, a gold ball known as P.O.D. (acronym unknown), hovers constantly by your side. It will act as a second offensive weapon as well as a glorified backpack. Soldiers, scientists and evil aliens assault you through these first set of levels as you are tasked with finding the parts to repair your ship, collecting as many of NEDs as you can and getting hell out of dodge.
Some objects need to be destroyed such as this wall panel (left)
Switches are activated by either walking into them or shooting them (right)
The game can best be described as a third-person shooter, but the chippy main character, light platforming sections and a variety of collectables make me want to label it a mascot platformer more than anything. Ed controls well for the most part but having to hold the Alt key to strafe - an action you'll need to get to grips with if you want to dodge incoming gunfire - doesn’t always work as you'd expect. This will mean you will find your life-bar constantly draining. Thankfully, there are a reasonable amount of health packs and plenty of extra lives scattered throughout the levels. Break open some crates if you're running low and I guarantee they'll be something useful in there. 1-ups come in the form of green tubes of embryonic Ed clones, which you will then inhabit when you inevitably succumb to overwhelming odds. In a nice touch, any Erlenmeyer flasks collected are on full display in your ship which you'll visit between levels.
After escaping Area 51, you find out that Big Bubba is having trouble subduing Earth, mainly due to your meddling. His minions tell him it will be easier to do so in the past so off they go, casually creating extra-dimensional rifts in their pursuit of profit. Ed and his crew of one are in hot pursuit, taking you to various locations such as Victorian London, ancient Stonehenge, Aztec Temples and more. While certainly offering up plenty of variety, I feel the developers missed a trick by not featuring enough iconic landmarks. If you weren’t told where you were, you may not know.
This lack of a recognisable landscape is not helped by the low-res graphical fidelity which hasn't been upgraded on its transition from the original PlayStation, despite releasing a year apart. The draw distance, in particular, is a huge issue. You can only see a few feet in front of you making enemies almost invisible until you're on top of them, giving them the advantage in the process.
NEDs are the game's main collectable, though you'll need to trap them in a bubble first.
Sometimes they drop health items or other power-ups.
While linear to begin with, later levels open up into hazard-filled arenas with a goal to capture NEDs before the bad guys do. These babbling, yellow creatures first need to be encapsulated in a bubble by shooting them. Only then will your POD absorb them into its black-hole of a stomach. He'll also pick up the luminous-splooges of dead NED corpses whenever you come across them too. Coupled with his ability to spit out bombs of varying types (if you have any, that is), it's a useful little ball to have around.
Overall, Attack of the Saucerman is a solid game with some fun ideas, but what was fun at first starts to get tedious as gameplay gets repetitive. The neat animations of your enemies being disintegrated as they succumb to your blaster grow old as you realise there are no other worth-while weapons other than a small variety of grenades. More importantly, as more enemies are thrown at you the controls let you down. Having to strafe with a separate key simply doesn’t work as it should and a lot of times it’s down to if you have enough health and lives left to win a war of contrition.
Unfortunately, Attack of the Saucerman resides more in the sci-fi schlock territory. Don't get me wrong, it's certainly worth a play or two but don't expect a triple-A experience. I enjoyed a good amount of my time with it yet I don’t feel you need to stick around for the conclusion of all 28 levels.
To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 running Windows '95. Manual & Soundtrack included. Tested on Windows 10.
IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting DOSBox. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Press Ctrl-F9 when it is safe to do so.
File Size: 379 Mb. Install Size: 542 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Watch our Let's Play!
Attack of the Saucerman! is © Fube Industries Ltd
Review by HeroOfAvalon
Cover Design and Installer created by me