Nick DeMarco

TURN TO CHANNEL 3: Arcade-style Atari light gun game ‘Alien Brigade’ is short, but a blast

TURN TO CHANNEL 3: Arcade-style Atari light gun game ‘Alien Brigade’ is short, but a blast
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Many of my customers at the shop, while well aware of the Atari 2600, are often unaware that the 5200 and 7800 were follow-ups to that legendary console. It’s a shame, too, because both consoles did have some stellar games that were fresh and innovative if you did some digging underneath all the ports of older, more established games that many gamers already played.

Today, we jump to the Atari 7800 and a game that showcases what the 7800 could do, as well as Atari’s grit and determination to stay around in the video game console business long after their glory days were gone.

Put on your helmet, soldier, and get your weapons ready because we’re light gunning for alien scum in “Alien Brigade” on the Atari 7800!

“Alien Brigade” (Atari 7800)


One of the things that made the Atari 7800 a solid console and, perhaps, a fitting swan song to Atari consoles until the Jaguar hit markets in the mid-‘90s was a sound chip that created sounds that, while limited in some aspects, were still light-years ahead of what we had come to know on Atari consoles prior.

“Alien Brigade” has all the firepower sounds you’d expect. While nothing here is over-the-top, I found that what I heard could go toe-to-toe with many light gun games on the Nintendo Entertainment System.


Again, while limited in some aspects, the levels and everything going on within them are immersive enough that I almost forgot that this was a console light gun game I was playing and not an arcade shooter. The little cut scenes are also well-designed.

The enemies really move around the screen pretty well and, at times, it is almost as if there is too much going on, but there is no lag. All of these awesome graphics don’t take away from the game overall, just further adding to how much fun it is to play.


If I have one gripe about “Alien Brigade,” it is that it’s too short. The levels may seem long at first, but there are only five of them, and even though four difficulty levels add to the overall experience, it doesn’t change the fact that, in the end, there isn’t enough variety here to keep you busy long.

You can almost say that “Alien Brigade” is one of those good timewasters, but that doesn’t equal high replay value, even though blasting aliens while avoiding innocent bystanders getting caught in your crossfire is a simple, yet addicting premise that has been in many light gun games, though it seems extra fun on an Atari console. In between levels, the player is briefed on the next mission and is given a performance rating.


“Alien Brigade” was released in 1990, late in the short life cycle of the console, and yet it was marketed more than many Atari 7800 titles, even going as far as being advertised in another shooter, “Planet Smashers.” (The ending of this game then returns the favor by plugging “Planet Smashers.”)

I’d also like to add that a light gun is not required to play this game, just another option from the standard Atari 7800 joystick, which is a nice little choice to cater to player preference. Let’s face it – Atari XE light guns aren’t easy to find these days, so it’s nice that it isn’t necessary to enjoy this shooter.

Few copies of this game are being sold right now, but what’s out there will run you about $30-$40, and if you feel the need to have the Atari XE light gun, that will run you another $30, so one could say that this is an investment piece for your Atari collection. But is it a worthy investment? I’d say yes because, in the end, nothing replaces blasting aliens into vapor, and “Alien Brigade” is all about that!

Next week, we wrap up our Atari August with a look at the original “Rayman,” but on the Atari Jaguar!

Until then, enjoy what remains of summer and play a game or two… or 10. Game on!

Tune in to NEPA Scene’s gaming column, Turn to Channel 3, every Thursday for new perspectives on retro gaming as well as fresh twists on the classics. All ratings for Turn to Channel 3 are based on a scale of 1-10.