Yes, everybody loves Cuphead. I do too! Lots! The amazingly gorgeous, hand-drawn, animated run ‘n’ gun love letter to games like Contra, Metal Slug, and Gunstar Heroes deserves every bit of praise it gets for every reason, and then some. But as revolutionary as it was, did something about it smack a bit…familiar? Like you’d seen something like it before, but can’t quite place it?
Or to get all David Spade-y about it, I liked Cuphead better the first time…when it was called Alien Hominid.
All snark aside though, remember Alien Hominid? It was originally a Flash game developed by Tom Fulp and artist Dan Paladin, and released in 2002 on Newgrounds.com, which is still available to play today right here right now.
While the Flash version is pretty cool, Fulp and Paladin teamed up with John Baez, forming a studio called The Behemoth, to make a console version of the game. In 2004 it was released on the then-current systems, such as the PlayStation2 and Gamecube. Rather than a straight port, however, the game was totally overhauled, beefed up, and polished into a…well, an amazingly gorgeous, hand-drawn, animated run ‘n’ gun.
Alien Hominid actually plays almost identically to Metal Slug, but with even more added moves and features. Your alien character can run left and right, fire his gun, jump, aim up and down while jumping, throw grenades (and enemies), and can slash when next to an enemy. You can even jump on enemies’ heads and either chomp on them or pick them up and throw them. OR you can burrow underground and grab unsuspecting foes as they pass by and pull them right to their graves. AND it’s 2-player, like Contra!
Power-ups modify your weapon into familiar tropes such as spread guns or large plasma blasts. Enemies — in this case, meathead FBI agents in black suits and sunglasses, who have stolen your crashed spaceship, or Soviet soldiers, after you re-crash-land in Russia — appear relentlessly, and stages are punctuated with mini-boss battles until the final boss at the end.
You can even jump into the occasional vehicle for more mayhem, much like Metal Slug.
And if that were’t enough, there are auto-scrolling levels, shootemup levels, and all kinds of variations…you know, a lot like Cuphead.
The action is fast — faster than Metal Slug itself — and the difficulty is rather punishing. It may be worth noting that I finished Cuphead, but I have yet to complete Alien Hominid. However, Alien Hominid is a lot more chaotic and can be played a little more freestyle, whereas Cuphead players need to be a little more precise and choreographed to make it through each level.
The visual style and animations are hilarious and smooth, and lend themselves well to satisfying control of the game.
Anyway, I’m being facetious here; I’m not actually saying Cuphead in any way ripped off Alien Hominid (although I wouldn’t doubt that there was some influence there) or that one is better than the other. I just wondered if I was the only one to draw the parallels between the two games. They’re definitely birds of a feather, and if you’re a fan of one but haven’t played the other, they should compliment each other very nicely in your collection of animated run ‘n’ guns!
Alien Hominid was released on PlayStation2, Gamecube, Xbox, Game Boy Advance, and a few mobile platforms, and is currently available in an HD version on Xbox Live. Hunt down a copy for your system of choice and have a blast!