Better Call Saul Reviews: “Something Beautiful” (season 4, episode 3)

As much as I come down on Better Call Saul for so frequently echoing Breaking Bad, I do have to confess that I’m part of the problem. I am indeed one of those people in the audience who gets a giddy little thrill out of seeing a familiar face. I smile. My ears perk up. I really hate to admit this, but I pay more attention.

And so “Something Beautiful” reunited us with Gayle, one of my absolute favorite characters from Breaking Bad. Why I didn’t immediately think of him when Gus learned he’d have to find someone to cook product locally, I have no idea. Maybe the mention of the DEA in the season premiere had me primed for Hank, Gomez, and possibly Marie to be the next ambassadors from that show.

Instead it was the perfectly natural — and just about obligatory — appearance of Gayle. I laughed as soon as I recognized him. I was excited. I was happy to see him.

Breaking Bad didn’t keep him around for long. He was the one for whom Gus invested in the superlab, and I expect we’ll catch up to that moment fairly soon. He cooked with Walt for a while, and then was killed by Jesse in one of Walt’s power plays. He sang karaoke. He gave a copy of Leaves of Grass to the man who ordered his death. And that was about all we got of Gayle.

I won’t go too deeply into why I like him, but it does tie into the way this episode opened.

Following on from last week’s murder of Arturo, there’s some cleanup (which conveniently doubles as setup) to be done. Victor and Tyrus stage a hit on the already dead Arturo. They blow out his tires. Shoot up his car. Blast a hole in his head. Then, because it has to look real, they put a couple of bullets into Nacho.

During that scene, right up until its final moments, I appreciated its coldness. Its calmness. Its calculation. This is the way things work. We saw organized criminals organizing their criminal activities. There was no sense of panic; they worked methodically from a comprehensive mental checklist.

And it made me realize that on Breaking Bad, we didn’t get much of that. We always had criminal activity unfolding with varying degrees of complexity, but in almost every instance we were there with Walt or Jesse, or both. Outsiders. Which means we never knew if we were seeing how these criminals actually operate, or seeing how they behave when they’re reacting to the presence of an interloper.

Here, in this scene, all of the participants are insiders. This is their world. One of them is already dead, two of them we know will die, another comes close to dying in this very episode. This is their life. This, specifically, is their life.

Gayle represents the ultimate outsider. Perhaps we’ll learn more about him that will disprove me, but I never saw him as somebody who had an evil bone in his body. He might be a bit of a showoff, but I think he mainly aims to please. He wants to prove his worth, sure, but he also wants people to be proud of him. Both Gus and Walt were in positions of power over him, and rather than bristle at that fact (or bristle for long) he sets about trying to impress them.

I always saw him as being written as the absolute best human being a meth cook could possibly be. He was intelligent, articulate, friendly, accommodating, patient. And I think that’s what made him so fascinating as a character. He was here, in this life, where throats get cut and people get gunned down and bodies are dissolved in acid. But he’s reading poetry and singing showtunes and brewing the perfect cup of coffee. He maintains everything that makes him Gayle.

Compare that to Victor and Tyrus at the beginning of this episode. (And at the end of last week’s.) They’re all in Gus’ orbit. They’re all in (or soon to be in) the same business. They’re all cogs in the same machine. But could their approaches be more different? Could their personalities? It’s such an interesting dichotomy.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Gayle being the one who insisted on cooking meth, though. I kind of always figured that Gus would be the one to pull him in, but here, in fact, Gus pushes him away. I see why. Gus himself just oversaw the brutal and cruel elimination of a problematic element. He likes Gayle, and doesn’t want him to become a problematic element for somebody else.

As we know, Gus eventually relents. And as we also know, Gayle indeed becomes that problematic element.

We know what happens, but I’m genuinely curious to see how we get there.

Better Call Saul is certainly a strong enough show on its own by this point, but the one way in which it jogs a considerable distance behind Breaking Bad is in its use of Mike. In that show, Mike simply didn’t show up unless he had something to do. Where was he when we spent time with other characters? It didn’t matter. He was out there, somewhere, being Mike.

In this show, though, we keep cutting back to him treading water, because he’s one of the major characters. It’s fine; Jonathan Banks is a delight, and my favorite part of this episode might have been Mike’s quiet refusal to even look at the Hummel figurine while Jimmy was expounding on its virtues. But, as great as he is, I find myself wondering every few episodes why he’s even here.

I’ve harped on this before so I won’t waste too much breath on it again, but it’s very strange to have a show with dual protagonists that don’t actually interact all that much. Their paths have crossed, but they’ve never overlapped for long. And this episode opens with Mike (understandably) refusing to be part of Jimmy’s narrative.

That’s fine, and his decision was true to his character. But aside from the fact that the two of them were on Breaking Bad, is there any reason for them to both be headlining, separately, this show?

Mike needs something to do. Shit, that’s a large part of his character, now that I think about it. And I probably would have been happy enough with the Hummel figurine dismissal if we hadn’t already seen the show floundering for Mike’s purpose in the previous two episodes as well. Had he disappeared for a few episodes and then popped up just to blink slowly across a table at Jimmy, that could have been great. Instead he’s almost always around, even when he has nothing to do, so it didn’t register as much more than Banks hitting his contracted number of episodes.

Speaking of Breaking Bad — as we always are, every hour of the day, every day for the rest of our lives — we got to see Ira again!

It’s Ira, kids!

…yeah, I didn’t recognize him, either. Evidently he was the owner of the pest control company that provided cover for Walt and Jesse late in the show’s run. As far as I can tell, he was in one episode. I didn’t remember him. I just watched this episode and I don’t remember him from Better Call Saul, either.

I do have to admit I liked that after he stole the Hummel figurine, he didn’t immediately slug Jimmy or something. As frustrated and nervous as he was, he turned out to enjoy the experience and the two of them seem to bond over how terribly it almost went. That was a neat little moment.

Jimmy didn’t really show us anything new this episode, and that’s okay. The most interesting bit of character work was how easily he proposes to Mike that they enlist Pryce — the pie sitter — to serve as a fence for the Hummel figurine. It’s notable that Jimmy is so fast to take someone who came to him for legal help and rope him into his own illegal activities. That’s a whole load of Saul peeking through.

I’d like to say that he also got a great moment at the very end of the episode, hollowly reading his brother’s suicide message aloud through mouthfuls of cereal, but Kim obviously owned that scene.

He reads more for the sake of it than out of any real sense of interest or investment. It’s there, it’s from Chuck, we’ll see what he says and get on with our day.

But Kim, gradually, perfectly, tragically breaks down. Jimmy isn’t laying any emotion over Chuck’s words; in fact, he’s robbing those words of emotion. But she feels it anyway. She hurts. The guilt comes welling up. Jimmy reads on without feeling and Kim feels enough for both of them.

It was painful to watch, not just because Kim was so believably hurting — God bless Rhea Seehorn — but because this is the rift between them.

As Jimmy hardens into Saul, Kim is still…Kim. They’re drifting apart. I don’t think they’ve hit the point of no return yet, but I do think it’s getting close. Every morning she wakes up, Jimmy’s just a little further away.

It would be nice to believe that she gets out while she can, before it’s too late, before it becomes something that drags her down and won’t let her go.

But I think Nacho’s situation at the beginning of the episode reminds us that that’s not how things work on this show.

We saw how Chuck got out. Heaven knows what’s in store for Kim.

Better Call Saul Reviews: “Breathe” (season 4, episode 2)

In last week’s review, I focused on one story rather than all three that were in the episode, expecting the other two would pick up in “Breathe” and I could talk about them more completely then.

I made the right judgement. As much as I could have said after “Smoke,” it felt a bit end a discussion of Jimmy’s ever-loosening morals to say, “Also Mike did a comedy routine with some idiots we’ll never see again.” Both things happened in the same episode, but it didn’t feel as though they belonged in the same review.

And, sure enough, “Breathe” picks up both of those threads I neglected, but only one of them reaches any kind of real milestone.

Season four began with three major plots unfolding concurrently. The first, and certainly the most important to this show rather than as setup for Breaking Bad, was the aftermath of Chuck’s death. This plot involves Jimmy, Kim, and Howard, and was the focus of “Smoke.”

But we also had the impending fallout from Hector’s heart attack, which involves a number of characters but is mainly centered upon Nacho and Gus for now.

The third and simplest of these was Mike’s security consultation of a Madrigal facility. We’ll deal with this one first, as it’s the one that’s advanced the least and, I’d argue, has revealed the least.

I don’t intend for that to sound dismissive — even if I guess it is, in one sense — because Mike’s consultation was fantastic. It was an excellent example of the kind of long scene Better Call Saul does (and Breaking Bad did) so well, opening at a point of confusion for the audience and gradually layering in context until you can understand what’s happening, allowing the “reveal” to come organically.

This was fun. I’ve gushed many times about my love of Jonathan Banks playing Action Grandpa, but I think this is the first time we’ve seen Mike employ his particular set of skills toward expressly comic ends. Nobody was in danger, nobody needed protection, nobody needed to escape. Mike’s background as a cop goes a long way toward justifying his immense capability in terms of offense and defense, but this was a nice chance to see — without any distraction — that his powers of observation are just as sharp.

This week Lydia meets with him and tells him to back off, but he doesn’t. It’s a nice exchange and Laura Fraser is a welcome presence, but I don’t think we learned anything there that we didn’t already know. Mike likes money, but only if he earns it. When he received that check for doing nothing last week he got right off his ass and did something. That’s about it.

I suspect the show is just killing a bit of time with that character until he needs to do something important. No real progress here, but it was fun jogging in place for a while.

The Hector thread is the one that really moves forward in this episode. It’s becoming more and more likely that Nacho’s pill-swapping scheme is what results in Hector’s eventual paralysis. I wondered at the end of last season if it would turn out to be another fakeout, like Mike with his sniper rifle. Better Call Saul can toy with our expectations — or rather foreknowledge — in a way that very, very few shows can.

And, hey, it still might. Or maybe I’m just hoping we get to see a little more of Hector being menacing. He spent so much of his Breaking Bad time in a wheelchair that I’ve really enjoyed Mark Margolis giving a more thorough performance of the character.

“Breathe” ends with what I think was one of the best scenes Better Call Saul has given us so far, and yet it still wasn’t the best scene in the episode. (More on that in a bit.) Nacho and Arturo, representing Hector, meet with Victor and Tyrus, representing Gus. Gus’ crew attempts to shortchange Hector’s. After some loaded silences and implied threats, Gus’ crew gives in and Hector’s crew gets their full cut.

Nacho and Arturo walk away, and we see figures approach them from between two Los Pollos Hermanos trailers. I surprised myself by saying, “Oh, shit,” out loud. It’s Gus with his boys. He puts a plastic bag over Arturo’s head and lets him slowly suffocate.

Pretty intense on its own, but it throws the interpretation of the previous scene into much more interesting places. Victor and Tyrus never meant to shortchange Nacho. They — and Gus — were testing him. Seeing how far he’d push. Seeing what he was made of. Seeing how he’d behave when he thought the big guys weren’t looking.

Tyrus tells him to take what they’re offering or to leave with nothing. What Nacho does reveals who he is, and how valuable he’ll be to Gus in the future.

Nacho is now under Gus’ thumb. He can ostensibly work on behalf of the Salamancas, but it’s Gus he’ll need to answer to. The fact that he pushed back against Gus’ men and got his full share might be the only reason he’s alive. Had he let himself get stiffed, Nacho wouldn’t be any more useful to Gus than Arturo was.

And so Nacho is trapped. He cannot serve two masters, and yet that’s exactly what he’ll need to do from this point forward.

Unlike the rest of the big players in this thread — Gus, Hector, Tuco, the cousins, Victor, Tyrus — we don’t see Nacho in Breaking Bad. His story has an unknown point of termination. He might get out — as he promises his father in this episode — or he might get taken down. We saw a number of characters get offed just so another character could make a point in Breaking Bad. We didn’t know any of them nearly as well as we know Nacho. Better Call Saul has seen to it that even a potentially senseless death would have meaning.

Personal prediction? I think the DEA gets him and he provides the information that leads them to Tuco in exchange for his freedom or a slap on the wrist. That’s based on almost nothing, though, so don’t go betting on it.

And, hey, speaking of the DEA, was that Marie Schrader working as the receptionist at the copy shop, standing in front of an appropriately purple wall? She had no lines so she wouldn’t have been in the credits, but that’s what I think I saw…and the episode ends with a suggestion that we haven’t seen the last of that place…

Actually, Jimmy stealing the figurine could somehow factor into Marie’s kleptomania…

Okay, that’s enough jumping ahead.

The big story in the previous episode was Jimmy’s reaction to Chuck’s death. He allowed Howard to shoulder the blame, and almost immediately lit up again. He remains bright and cheery — at least outwardly so — in “Breathe,” but it doesn’t feel the same. There was something about his sunny demeanor in the opening scene as he made breakfast that made it feel far more like I was watching Saul Goodman than Jimmy McGill. It felt a little phonier. A little more calculated. Just a bit artificial.

I could be wrong, and reading into something that isn’t there, but Kim picks up on something, too. So much so that she unloads on Howard later that day. And…well, maybe she has a point. I absolutely believe Howard has good intentions. He’s still a lawyer, a businessman, a professional, but he does have a heart. When he told Jimmy he believes Chuck’s death was intentional suicide, I’d bet he really did think it was the right thing to do.

Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t.

But Kim sees that Jimmy’s just slightly “off,” and she blames Howard for being insensitive. Or, rather, she screams ruthlessly and emotionally at the man who until recently was her employer. (And who, it must be said, has lost his friend, mentor, and partner, and is blaming himself for it.)

It was great. It was an important scene. Rhea Seehorn has been the most consistent highlight of Better Call Saul so far, and the way in which she will fight for Jimmy is…

…well…

…it’s the saddest fucking thing imaginable.

Kim is capable, competent, loyal, intelligent. And she’s throwing her support behind a man who is gradually shedding his humanity, who is creeping by the hour toward the repulsive alter ego that will replace Jimmy forever.

I don’t know that anybody’s ever fought for Jimmy before. His father refused to believe Jimmy was stealing from the family store, but a flashback in season two’s “Inflatable” showed us that that may not have been the problem anyway.

Jimmy’s lived a life surrounded by people who either coddle him or condemn him, and associated through much of his life with other thieves and grifters.

Who was there to fight for him? Who was there to convince him he was worth fighting for? Who saw him as a human being? As someone who deserved to be lifted up rather than reacted to? Who knew and understood his past and still believed there was a place for him in the future?

It’s Kim.

Only Kim.

Season three was Chuck’s story. It was a long, frightening march over the event horizon. He’s gone now. He isn’t coming back.

Which leaves season four free to focus on peeling Kim away next.

My heart hurt watching her yell at Howard. Not just because the man didn’t deserve to be harangued for what was at worst poor judgment, but because the woman who harangued him did it on behalf of Jimmy.

Because she cared that fucking much about Jimmy.

And Jimmy leaves her in bed that very night to step outside and plot a petty burglary of a Hummel figurine.

He’s sliding away from the most important thing he’ll ever have, and toward a whole lot of shit he’ll wish he never touched.

Better Call Saul Reviews: “Smoke” (season 4, episode 1)

I skimmed an interview with Peter Gould before the premiere of Better Call Saul (I was trying to avoid direct spoilers) and he mentioned that he toyed with the idea of jumping ahead in time after the end of season three. In fact, they toyed with that idea a few times already on Better Call Saul, and did the same when writing Breaking Bad. But each time, they realized there were still stories to tell right where they were.

I’ve said before that my main issue with the final stretch of Breaking Bad was its willingness to jump ahead in time. In any other show, that would neither have mattered nor registered. Breaking Bad, though, spent the vast majority of its run moving deliberately from point to point. We followed every step from A to B to C, so that we could trace not so much the workings of the plot, but the evolutions of the characters.

We didn’t jump from A to C; we watched every painful moment of the characters changing along the way. Loosening their personal moralities. Rationalizing their increasingly appalling behavior. Altering the way they see themselves, and the way others would see them.

Jumping from A to C might have still given us a good show. It’s given us many great shows. But it wouldn’t have given us Breaking Bad.

I think it’s okay that the Better Call Saul writers sat down in a room and wondered whether or not they should leap ahead, but I’m relieved they didn’t. Moreso than Breaking Bad was, Better Call Saul is a specific (if sometimes unfocused) story of personal change.

Jimmy McGill to Slippin’ Jimmy to James M. McGill to Saul Goodman to Gene Takovic with probably a few other incarnations yet to be explored.

Jimmy’s story is inherently a story of change. So was Walter White’s, but in Breaking Bad there was another hook for the narrative and marketing to hang upon: how far will a dying man take his dangerous scheme?

I challenge you to provide a similar surface narrative for Better Call Saul. There isn’t one. We started this show at point A, and met Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad at point C. To skip B is to skip Better Call Saul.

When the idea of this spinoff was first bandied around — a Saul Goodman prequel — I was willing to believe it would be worth watching. I was willing to believe it would be funny and well acted and well written. I wasn’t really willing to believe it needed to exist. After all, what story could it possibly tell? The story of how Saul Goodman came to like money?

And, of course, nothing (or very little) of what we see in Better Call Saul was in anybody’s mind when they were writing for the character in Breaking Bad. So much more the achievement, then, that this show has found not just a story worth telling, but one so unpredictably mired in and driven by tragedy.

It’s not the story of how Saul Goodman came to like money. It’s the story of Jimmy McGill slowly, agonizingly, terrifyingly losing his grip on his own humanity.

I love Jimmy. I love Saul. But I love Saul as a character, as comic relief, as often the sole buffer between enjoying Breaking Bad and being overcome with despair. By contrast, I love Jimmy as a human being.

I think it’s fair to say Jimmy McGill is a good person. Not a great person, but a person with a heart. A person who cares. A person who feels remorse.

He’s a person capable of so much. He’s cunning, clever, resourceful. He’s sweet. He’s motivated. He’s charming.

He has all of the qualities we typically associate with the hero. Better Call Saul is the story of how (and why) he instead became the villain.

That may sound a lot like Breaking Bad, but I think it takes a supremely inattentive viewing of that show to believe Walter White started out as anything like heroic. Breaking Bad did a great job of layering in from the beginning the fact that Walter White was kind of a piece of shit.

Jimmy McGill, by contrast, wasn’t. He was an opportunist. A bit selfish. He had a checkered past. But within the confines of this show, he’s done very little but try to build himself up legitimately. To rise above his station. To become the person by all rights he should be.

But life holds him back. It pulls him down. Walter White was dealt a bad hand in terms of the cancer, yes, but how he responded to it, the help he refused, the path the followed, the life he chose not to abandon when the cancer went into remission…well, those things were his decisions. Jimmy McGill faces blow after blow. He doesn’t face one (admittedly large) tragedy and willingly throw his humanity away…he’s gradually worn down. He’s slowly beaten. He’s dragged away from where he wants to be toward where the universe has decided he will be.

That’s Jimmy McGill.

And that’s why I think the strongest indication that he’s becoming Saul Goodman happens in this episode, when Howard Hamlin blames himself for Chuck’s death…and Jimmy lets him.

We’ve seen Jimmy wear Saul’s clothes and use Saul’s name, but I think that’s the first time he’s shown us the blackness of Saul’s soul.

Kim blames herself. Howard blames himself. Jimmy learns that he’s actually the one to blame, if anyone is, and he feeds the fish. Makes some coffee. Lets somebody else take up his cross.

And that’s what we miss if we jump ahead in time. We miss Jimmy McGill sitting on the couch and Saul Goodman standing up from it.

—–
Note: iTunes seems to have made some kind of change between last season and now that prevents me from taking screengrabs. Even Print Screen doesn’t work; I just get a black rectangle. Way to punish me for not pirating, Apple. Anyway, the odds are good I’ll just have to rely on AMC’s boring official episode photos this season. I’m probably more disappointed than you are, but it was nice to pick the moment of each episode that actually resonated with me, rather than the one AMC thinks should have. For the record, this review would have featured Jimmy smiling after feeding the fish.

Update: Time Slips Away

Is it too soon to plan the rest of the year? When you’re someone who overstretches themselves at every opportunity…no!

For a while, even at my slowest, I was able to produce one new post here every two weeks. I thought that was a pace that was fair to both of us. But time makes fools of us all, as a wise man once observed, so I wanted to check in and let you know what to expect for the rest of 2018.

– For starters, I’m sorry. I know it stinks to keep visiting the page to find nothing new. I did know this was going to happen, and I tried to make sure I gave you a long, classic-style ALF review to remind you that I’m not going anywhere…but I have another large project that’s been dominating my time.

– That project, of course, is the book. I’m still not able to reveal much about it specifically, but I assure you that while I’m not pumping out blog content, I am still writing; you’ll just get it all in one shot when the book is released, possibly next year. I’m making great progress on it and I’m very happy with how it’s turning out. I’d say the draft is around 70% done. I’m excited to share more information with you, hopefully relatively soon.

– However, there are deadlines I need to adhere to. I owe my publisher a completed first draft by Dec. 1. That’s unquestionably a realistic target. But it does leave me with a lot less time for blog content. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked!

– October will of course see the return of Trilogy of Terror. This will be the fourth year for the series, and I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a highlight of my year since I’ve introduced it, and I love the opportunity it gives me to dig deeper into certain films than I ever would have otherwise thought to.

– That means September will be given over to watching the movies, researching them, writing about them, gathering screenshots, editing the writeups…you know. All that fun stuff that happens behind the scenes. It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy Trilogy of Terror and I know you guys do, too, so I always want to do it justice. In fact, to get you excited about it, this year’s theme is Games of Life and Death.

– Also, because I’m never happy without too much on my plate, I really want to do a Fiction into Film that complements that theme. That’s another project that requires a lot of work, but it’s also something I’d love to cover.

– I’d also really like to do another Xmas Bash! But those take a lot of work as well. If I’m going to have another group of Christmas specials / commercials / music videos ready to go in December, I need to get it finished (or nearly so) in November.

– That leaves August for me to get my draft done. Oh, except The Venture Bros. and Better Call Saul debut their new seasons in August. I plan on covering the latter, for sure. The former, I think I definitively have to pass on writing about. There’s simply not enough time.

– On top of all this, I have a job, a social life, the fallout from getting rear-ended at a stoplight in April…I’m a busy bee.

– So, yeah, don’t expect much in the way of frequent updates between now and the end of the year. I really, truly hate to say that. But do expect big, important, substantive things. What I do post is going to count, I can assure you of that much. You just might have to wait a while between posts. I’ll do my absolute best to make that wait worth it.

– I know I don’t need to post an update every time I’m going to focus elsewhere, but I respect your time as readers, and I appreciate it every time you’ve come back to see what exciting new topic I’m going to be thoroughly wrong about. I don’t want to waste your time or squander your attention. So, as a reward for being good, here’s one more bit of information about my upcoming book: it’s horror related.

– Lastly, if you’ve been visiting for more than a year or so, you probably remember that I had official Noiseless Chatter mugs for sale. They were great, but I sold out of them a while back. I’ve been wanting to get some kind of new merchandise made, for folks who want to support the site. I’m not a big fan of taking donations in exchange for nothing, and I don’t want to just get more mugs made because the shipping was prohibitively expensive for readers in other countries. So let me know what kind of things you’d like to see and would be willing to buy, and I’ll poke around!

Whew. Thanks for reading. Be patient. I’m sure I’ll have a few surprises for you along the way, but this is shaping up to be a very busy sprint to the end of the year. I thank you for your understanding, and I appreciate that you’re taking this journey with me.

As ever, stay tuned.

ALF Reviews: ALF, Sega Master System (1989)

Oh, my aching ass hole.

It’s been two years since I finished reviewing ALF, but the fucker still haunts my dreams. People still send me ALF shit in the mail. (Not literal shit excreted by ALF, though I think I’d actually prefer that to the figurines and paper plates and coloring books.) People still tag me in every YOU’RE SO OLD IF YOU REMEMBER THIS meme that features a picture of ALF. Every time the National Enquirer catches Max Wright shambling out of his apartment to plead with God to take him, I’m the first to know.

All of which is to say, I have yet to exorcise the demon. My work must not be done. I attempted to do this a year ago with that review of ALF Loves a Mystery that I promised to a reader who doesn’t come here anymore, but the Earth has completed one more orbit around the sun and society has sunk another dozen or so notches toward hell and I still have work to do.

ALF, released for the Sega Master System on December 31, 1989, is something I actually did want to cover during my reviews of the show. Casey over at Perfect Strangers Reviled feels compelled to drag out his misery by covering every fucking thing that happened to every fucking actor during every fucking minute of their day. Me? I did the bare minimum and fucked the hell off, secure in the knowledge that I’d only have to dip back into the show every year for the rest of eternity.

I think we can easily see who won that round.

ALF: The Video Game, which is what I’ll call it to avoid confusion with the show (though ALF: The Digital Fuck-You is almost certain to be more accurate) was not the only ALF-related software released during the show’s run.

It is probably, however, the only title worth reviewing. Most of it was printing software and educational games with an ALF license. There was a computer game called ALF: The First Adventure, which I haven’t played but seems to be a pretty simple and inoffensive little maze game. It was also released in 1987, which was actually when anybody with half a brain might have given a shit about the show.

I don’t know what month it came out, but 1987 covers the stretch between the second half of season one and the first half of season two. That’s perfect tie-in timing. ALF: The Video Game, by contrast, came out at what must certainly have been the worst possible time: just as the show was about to end forever with the Alien Task Force disemboweling ALF in a field. A December 31, 1989 release means only 11 episodes were left. Four of those episodes actually came close to being good, but one of them featured Jim J. Bullock so fuck it.

I’ve never played ALF: The Video Game before. That’s partially because I wasn’t one of the 30 people who owned a Master System. For those of you who don’t know, the Master System was the hunk of crap Sega made before the Genesis. The Genesis is the one you remember, trust me. (Unless you’re in the UK, in which case the Genesis was called the Mega Drive. The Master System was probably called the Goody Box or some such nonsense.)

My uncle had a Master System, for some reason. I remember playing it way back then and not feeling even slightly disappointed that I owned an NES. I definitely remember playing Rocky, which only made me wish I were playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, and some Duck Hunt-style game that really fucking made me wish I were playing Duck Hunt. The Master System version did have little armadillos that curled up into balls when you shot them, though, and that was kinda cool.

I don’t think my uncle had ALF: The Video Game, which is good because I was a fucking idiot as a kid and probably would have played it. My mental state is fragile enough as it is, so I can’t imagine cramming this traumatic experience into my past as well. I’d be a gibbering wreck.

More of a gibbering wreck. Maybe I wouldn’t even be able to gibber!

Anyway, the one thing I do know for sure about ALF: The Video Game is that it has puzzle elements, and it’s not just about jumping over obstacles and eating…um…man, it’s been so long since I reviewed ALF. What was it he was famous for wanting to eat?

Oh, right: underage tits.

That’s mildly worrying, because it leaves open the possibility that I’ll get permanently stuck on some inscrutable puzzle at some point, but I did find a walkthrough. I won’t refer to it unless I absolutely need to, but I’m glad to know it’s there.

The funny thing is that the walkthrough was written in 2012! Twenty-three years after nobody cared about this game in the first place, some dodo dug it up and personally wrote a step-by-step guide to playing it.

Holy shit. Can we all just take a moment to reflect on what a sad fucking life that guy must lead?

Anyway, please enjoy my exhaustive review of ALF: The Video Game.

No nevermind FUCK IT SHUT THIS OFF FUCK IT NO

I…

This is a real release.

This was on store shelves.

This was a product people coded and manufactured and distributed.

Why does it look like this?

To put it in perspective, here are just a few of the other games 1989 had to offer: Super Mario Land, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Phantasy Star II, Golden Axe, Mother, Dragon Warrior, Castlevania III, Duck Tales, Prince of Persia, Mega Man Fuckin’ 2.

This was a good year for gaming, and I’m only listing the games whose legends have endured. Add in the forgotten and overlooked gems (not to mention the brilliant games that would have been released a year earlier or later) and you’d have yourself one hell of a fantastic retro library.

So why do we have a title screen with hideous pixel art of ALF realizing he just sat on his sack?

Why couldn’t they capitalize the P in Productions? Why can’t they get three fucking letters the same size? Who on Earth would want to play this?

And I’m just showing you the static image. I’m not making you listen to the music. The tinny, maddening, looping music. It’s fucking terrible. I know writing about music is like dancing about architecture (my observation so please credit me if you use it elsewhere) and I’m even worse at architecture than I am at dancing, music, and writing, so I know I can’t possibly describe it for you.

But maybe think about an ice cream truck playing a peppy little jingle. Only that jingle is composed of digitized shrieks and screams. And the volume is so high that it overwhelms the truck’s shitty speakers and comes out sounding distorted. And that ice cream truck is currently getting the electric chair. And your little brother is puncturing your eardrums with heroin needles.

What I’ve just described would be “Hey Jude” compared to this horse shit.

The music loops a few times and then the game plays with itself.

Nothing really happens except that ALF walks to the left. Like, he’s in a house walking to the left, and then he’s on a street walking to the left and then he’s in a cave walking to the left.

Different games have taken different approaches to this, but these demo sequences are holdovers from the arcade days of “attract modes.” The idea, obviously, was that every quarter had to be peeled out of somebody’s hand, so in addition to cabinet artwork and flashing lights, a game going unplayed would sort of audition itself briefly to passing kids. It would show off action-packed sequences to prove it could be fun. It would show off impressive cinematics to prove it was cutting edge. It would show off interesting late-game levels to prove it was worth playing for as long as it took to get there.

It would, in a word, convince. It was its own commercial.

In the attract mode for ALF: The Video Game, ALF walks brainlessly into a pit and his angel ascends to Heaven.* Great.

There are a few sequences in the demo, and since we don’t see any puzzles or platforming or combat, I guess ALF: The Video Game is just intending to show us all of the incredible, varied locations ALF can walk left through. If you’d like to know how many there are, I’ll help you figure it out.

Look to the left. Now look to the right. Now look below you. You’ve just looked at more locations than you’ll find in ALF: The Video Game.

The very end of the attract mode is ALF swimming. Some nameless human enemy fires a harpoon at him and the sequence ends literally one frame before the harpoon pierces ALF’s throat. It’s a far better cliffhanger than “Consider Me Gone” had, that’s for sure.

I will point out that I’m playing this on an emulator, because no human being deserves to profit off of ALF, least of all the guy on eBay who wants $480 for a copy, plus $20 shipping.

Yes, there are cheaper copies, but when something sells for $500 and you buy the same item for $35 or something you can be reasonably sure you’re going to receive a box full of ants.

I bring this up, though, to assure you that while I will be emulating what is clearly going to be the gaming experience of walking in on your parents making a snuff film, I won’t be using save states or anything. And if you don’t know what that means, it’s enough to know that I won’t be cheating my way through it, and I won’t be manipulating the game in any way to make it easier on myself.

If you don’t believe me, just reflect on the fact that I reviewed all 99 episodes of ALF, and the movie, when I could have easily cheated and just said I died.

Ah alright fine whatever I’ve stalled enough let’s play this garbage.

Well, that will sure teach me not to make fun of the art on the title screen.

This is…like, this is actually Microsoft Paint, right? Like, without any joke, that’s what we’re looking at here? This is exactly the quality of art I was able to produce with it at around 12 years of age, and about what I’m still able to produce with it today. But there’s an important difference, I think: I AM NOT AND HAVE NEVER BEEN A PROFESSIONAL ARTIST FOR VIDEO GAMES.

Those games I listed above as coming from 1989? Those were all varying degrees of good games. But, what’s more, they were all varying degrees of beautiful games. Look at the art style of Phantasy Star II, Duck Tales, Castlevania III. Look at what people were able to achieve with pixel art. Look at the way each of those games evokes different feelings, emotions, universes with nothing but simple sprites and backgrounds. And those games were far from alone; even terrible games back then tended to (though they certainly didn’t always) have actual artistic direction. They had care invested in their presentations.

It’s not enough to say, “Eh, it’s an early console game,” because that does a disservice to anyone who ever worked their ass off to successfully produce a game that looked, sounded, or played fantastically. And, let’s be frank here, a number of companies such as Nintendo, Capcom, and Konami were already doing all three reliably.

What this first screen of actual gameplay tells me — this first impression of what the game is — is that the developers don’t care. They don’t care that it looks like crap and they don’t care that it sounds like crap, so I’ll be shocked to holy hell if they care that it plays like crap.

Anyway I’ve spent enough time bitching that ALF has entered his impatient animation. He knocks on the screen, so angry that he forgets how punctuation works.

But guess what, pixel dick?! I ain’t done yet!

This is clearly meant to be the Tanner house, and we start outside. ALF’s spaceship is on the garage, which would seem to imply that he just crashed here. And that would be fine! But we remember from the show both a) he crashed at night and b) the Tanners waited something like 71 episodes before they bothered removing the fucking UFO from the roof.

On top of the house itself, there’s some kind of green scooter thing. ALF can scale the ivy to the top of the house, which we remember was always one story.

Once there, ALF automatically stands on the scooter, but he can’t do anything. So far as I can tell, only one action button in this game does anything. The Master System had two action buttons, labelled 1 and 2, but 1 both jumps and interacts with things.

ALF hints that we need to find some fuel for this thing, and that seems to be all we can interact with here. I head off to the right in the hopes that the next screen will have, at the very least, a different shrill, ear-scraping melody.

It doesn’t. Or maybe it sort of does? It’s hard to tell. It’s like saying I hear a different melody when I put my own head through a glass window than I hear when I put your head through one.

Despite the fact that most of the garage is out of view and the fact that the garage was an important location in so many episodes of the show and the fact that THE COCKING SPACESHIP is on the roof of the garage, you can’t go in there, and heading right leads you to the middle of some street.

I didn’t cut anything out between those two screens. Walk right from the scooter and there you are, in the middle of traffic. No wonder a social worker can afford a home like this in Los Angeles; the fucking highway runs right into the side of it.

I thought at the very least we’d be able to explore the rest of the Tanners’ yard, or maybe the Ochmoneks’ house (where ALF could snag a rad Hawaiian shirt). Any of that would have required some degree of creativity though so fuuuuuuuck dat.

We do see two of the game’s many (three) enemies on the screen, though. There’s a kid on a motorbike who zips by again and again. Only the wheels are animated, which would normally be fine, but the fact that he seems to be the only person using the road makes it very clear that the developers were being as lazy as possible.

In the upper right you see…I dunno, The Hamburglar? He shuffles along the sidewalk like he shit his pants, and he just keeps opening and closing his hands as he walks, like he’s honking a set of imaginary tits.

My assumption is that this guy is supposed to be from the Alien Task Force, despite the fact that the show always had them dress as officers in the military and this guy is cosplaying Carmen Sandiego. I figured I’d look up the game’s manual online to be sure and, yep, Alien Task Force.

Of course that means I had to read the fucking manual to ALF: The Video Game so I’m not letting you off the hook, either.

And…that’s pretty interesting, in more ways than you might at first realize.

I will say that I have no idea if the age of 229 is show-accurate. Maybe one of you remembers. The odds are good that you’ve read my ALF reviews more recently than I have, and frankly I’m just thrilled that I managed to erase some ALF information from my mind without physically carving it out with runcible spoon. But beyond that…

Even at the very end of the show’s run, official products can’t decide whether to call him ALF or Alf. Here’s my humble take on it: It’s clearly ALF you fucking morons.

Then there’s some interesting information complementing what we heard in the show. In no particular order, this confirms that Melmac indeed exploded when everyone plugged in their hair dryers at the same time. If I remember correctly, this was stated in the show, but as that kind of offhand comment ALF so often made that we could never definitively prove wasn’t a joke. (Three cheers for the metatextual irony of never knowing whether or not something in a sitcom is meant to be funny.)

We also learn that ALF left Melmac to find a “space-age candy store.” This could contradict what we learned in the show — he fled when he heard the emergency sirens, without helping anyone else — but I’m actually cool with it. Everything we learned about him points to the fact that while his family, friends, girlfriend, pets, Orbit Guard colleagues, and his entire history and culture perish in a nuclear holocaust, his first thought would indeed be where to get some junk food.

What’s more, the colony of New Melmac or whatever it is that Skip and Rhonda founded was evidently on Mars. Fine, whatever.

But the most interesting thing? Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, but…ALF joining Skip and Rhonda on their new homeworld was an idea not yet introduced by the show proper. This confirms that there was some communication between the developers of this game and the writers of the show; the developers were privy to a plot development that viewers wouldn’t see until the final episode.

As a recap, “Consider Me Gone” saw ALF attempting to meet up with Skip and Rhonda as the Alien Task Force closes in on him and Willie thinks “THANK CHRIST” so loudly you can hear it in your bones.

The manual also mentions that Lucky is in the game, even though he died in “Live and Let Die.” Not a big deal, but I figured I’d point it out since Lucky is the only character other than ALF mentioned in the entire fucking manual.

The manual also offers some extremely helpful insight for players, such as “You can’t beat this game without items.” Gee, thanks.

Introducing a list of those items, it says, “Not all items are actually pictured in the game, so we’re showing you pictures of them here so you can see what they look like.” Which is more or less the creative team saying, “We’re so lazy we didn’t even bother to draw most of the shit that’s supposed to be in this game.”

Oh and this:

I hope to fuck this is one of the items not actually pictured in the game.

Anyway, I go left to the garage again and then left one more screen, and I’m instantly in the Tanner kitchen.

That’s Lucky on the counter, and Tits McSqueezins coming in from the left. Not pictured is me on the ground, twitching and nauseous over the pattern on the floor.

Also, suddenly, I have a status bar, which disappears when I go outside to the right again. I have to assume it’s a programming error, because there’s no reason for my score, money, and lives to be displayed on this screen and not the other two I’ve already visited.

I’m assuming those are lives in the upper right, anyway. They’re ALF heads, I think. Or maybe they’re little icons of his arm making a muscle? Maybe they’re Melmacian genitals. Who gives a shit.

The next time I come in, that fucking guy enters from the right instead.

This means I can proceed to the left, but I have to wonder if that’s the actual solution. Is that what I was supposed to do? Flee the room and return, somehow warping spacetime and plopping my adversary somewhere else entirely? At least the game follows the narrative conventions established by the show: something happens, then something else happens, then something different happens, then it stops.

At least, I hope it stops.

I walk past Lucky, who disappears. I was hoping for a sound effect like when Pac-Man swallows a piece of fruit whole but no such luck(y). The cat appears in my inventory instead. Please don’t ask where ALF crammed him.

I try to interact with the refrigerator, but suddenly the 1 button doesn’t let me, and the 2 button does. THANKS. Was every screen made my a different person? Jesus.

In the refrigerator ALF finds a salami stick. He says “Just the ticket for those nasty bats,” and I have no fucking clue what he’s talking about. What bats? I’m assuming we’ll find them later, but isn’t it a bit strange to say that now, when it’s impossible that any player would have seen them yet? And why would seeing a stick of salami immediately make you say, “Aw yeah, now I’m gonna fuck up some bats”? I don’t understand this even slightly.

ALF wedges the salami snugly beside Lucky and we move further left. Now we’re in the Tanners’ central corridor, which we all certainly remember from every episode of the show. On the wall are two portraits that you can’t definitively prove aren’t Willie and Kate so there that’s your cameo shut the fuck up.

At least we get three doors to choose from, and the fact that I’m genuinely excited about that, in spite of the fact that they couldn’t possibly lead to anything interesting, shows how much of an adventure game fan I am.

I grew up playing graphical adventure games of all stripes. My favorites were the ones made by Sierra, mainly the Space Quest series, but Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist is still the best one I’ve ever played. I also loved Leisure Suit Larry 6, which took place in a hotel that is still one of the best and most memorable locations I’ve ever explored in a video game.

Elsewhere there was The Secret of Monkey Island, which my friend Ray owned and which I was deeply jealous of until I got a computer that could run it many years later. And another game that ALF is perhaps oddly reminding me of, Hugo’s House of Horrors, which saw you exploring a haunted house.

The most classic of these games, though, was Maniac Mansion, which I originally played on the NES. I remember poring over an issue of Nintendo Power that featured a complete map of the Edison Mansion, and instantly falling in love. As much as games could transport me to outer space, to the old west, to fantasy lands beyond number, this game with its promise of a trek through a creepy old house absolutely grabbed me from the moment I laid eyes on it. I got the game that Christmas, or perhaps for my birthday, because I had pestered my parents endlessly for it. I knew for a fact I would love the game…and I did. I loved it even more than I expected to.

It was clever, it was funny, it was scary. It was tense. It was impressively versatile, with a number of different characters to choose from and what felt like an infinite number of ways to progress leading to an infinite number of endings. I was familiar with games you could win or lose; Maniac Mansion was the first game to give me a story that you could win and lose in so many unexpected, interesting, hilarious ways.

Games like this saw you plodding back and forth over a location or a series of locations, accumulating items, paying attention to dialogue and descriptions for clues, and solving oblique puzzles as you moved forward. In most of these games you could die, typically for failing to solve a puzzle correctly and frequently in a way funny enough that you wouldn’t get frustrated, but none of them had a life system like we see here.

Lives make sense when you accidentally run Mario off a cliff, because games like that are built around reflexes and quick thinking. You need, if the game is going to be fair, at least a few chances to get things right. In a game like this, though, I’m a little baffled by the life system. An adventure game shouldn’t be about reflexes or quick thinking; the solution comes to your mind, not to the tips of your fingers.

We’ll see how it works out, but my immediate thought is that whoever made this game knew that video games usually gave you a set number of lives and didn’t take the time to wonder if that was even a good fit for the kind of game they were making here.

Anyway, all of this is to say that in graphical adventure games, being confronted with three doors is like a promise that the game is about to open up in fantastic ways. There’s something unknown behind each one, another little world to explore, even if it’s the size of a single screen. Puzzles to solve, things to find, backstory to uncover.

oh who I am I kidding they each just lead to the street again don’t they

The leftmost door leads to what I assume is Willie and Kate’s bedroom. I have to assume this, because the game is going to go out of its away to avoid ever using the words “Willie” and “Kate.” Perhaps this was due to the fact that in the fifth season, the characters were going to be written out anyway, as a result of Max Wright threatening to strap dynamite to his chest and blow himself up in Brandon Tartikoff’s office if they didn’t let him out of his contract.

Whatever the reason, we sure as shit aren’t running into any Tanners in the Tanner house. It is nice that the game passively continues their established habit of never, under any circumstances, fucking. In the universe of this game, they’ve staved off physical desire by working to break the world’s record for largest number of decorative pillows.

There’s not much in the room, but there are two more doors. The one on the left is locked. ALF says he’ll find a key. Lucky, already cramped, cringes at the thought.

I see I earned 700 points somehow, I guess. That’s great. I hope you are jealous of my score I wish I were never born.

Anyway, I guess we’ll have to come back to this door later, so I’ll try the one on the right…

Hm.

Remember that thing I said about the game promising to open up fantastically?

Anyway, in this room and the hallway, I seem to be free from Alien Task Force harassment. It would be one thing if avoiding them were any kind of puzzle…or if, say, the game had a 60 minute time limit before the Alien Task Force closed in on the house, and you had to fix your spaceship before then…but instead they’re just sort of there, because whoever made this game heard that video games have enemies and and didn’t take the time to wonder if they were even a good fit for the kind of game they were making here.

Rad.

Going to the left takes us back to the hallway, but if we go right, we end up in a new area:

I’m assuming this is Brian and Lynn’s room? In the show they had separate bedrooms, but having them bunk together certainly makes things more convenient for ALF.

For the record, the rightmost door in the main hallway also leads to this room. We’ll get to the center door momentarily, but for now just remember that the far left and far right doors lead to the same long room, and somehow there’s a door that leads to a different room between them.

Fuck this show…’s tie-in game?

You know, this game is inadvertently proving how empty a universe ALF created. I talked about that a bit in my review of the godawful Gilligan’s Island episode, but now we’re seeing evidence of the fact that setting an interactive game in the Tanner house — the main location for every single episode across all four seasons — reveals that the show introduced nothing worth interacting with.

Think about the many Simpsons games that allow you to explore 742 Evergreen Terrace and/or Springfield in general. Starting, I think, with Virtual Springfield in 1997, which wasn’t much of a game but which thrilled me when it came out just because it was dotted with so many things and characters and locations from the show. Much more recently there are the South Park games like The Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole which allow you to dig through characters’ homes and closets, uncovering and collecting relevant items from the show’s history. It’s fun. It’s a treat for fans. It makes the games feel that much more interesting and worth playing.

I know I’m trying to force modern sensibilities onto an old game, and that isn’t be fair. But let’s say ALF: The Video Game were made today. Somebody says to the development team, “Pack it full of references that the fans will appreciate.”

What references could there even be? What would you find in Brian’s closet? Who would you interact with outside of the Tanners? What would it be like exploring Willie’s workplace?

These things are complete blanks. I guess there are a few things you could stick in there. Maybe you could find the perfume that killed the giant cockroach, or you could find Uncle Albert’s corpse in a kiddie pool outside. But, really, after 99 episodes and a movie, ALF was so embarrassingly empty. It’s possible we didn’t get these little in-universe nods to past adventures because that’s simply not what tie-in games did in 1989, but making it in 2018 wouldn’t change a thing.

Anyway, let’s see what’s behind this door.

Oh fuck you.

This game must have been really easy to write dialogue for.

And speaking of dialogue:

Whoever wrote the manual melded two of ALF’s catchphrases together. It’s “Ha, I kill me,” and “No problem,” you dingdongs. I fucking hate the show and even I know that. “Ha! No Problem!” is meaningless. Unlike ALF’s actual catchphrases which are DEEPLY MEANINGFUL. I guess I should be grateful they didn’t stick a burp in there.

Anyway, back into the hallway, so we can check out that middle door.

It brings us to some stairs leading into a dark basement. Which is also somehow in the middle of the extra-long bedroom we were just in. There looks to be a grey cat or something running around at the foot of the stairs, but I’m guessing it’s actually a mouse or a rat.

With only two action buttons it doesn’t take long to experiment, and by that I mean accidentally solve the puzzle without trying.

Either 1 or 2 releases Lucky, I guess, and the mouse runs off. That’s it. Also, ALF isn’t animated when he climbs or descends the stairs…he just winks from one step to the other. I really am starting to think each room was coded by a different person.

I’m guessing the mouse would have killed me, or something? No idea. Now I will never know. And if knowing is half the battle, never knowing must logically be the other half, so I guess I’m doing pretty well.

Anyway, have you noticed something? This is evidently the first screen on which I need to use an inventory item…AND IT IS ONE OF THE SCREENS THAT DOES NOT DISPLAY THE INVENTORY.

Great fucking game, ass bags.

ALF warps by increments to the bottom of the stairs, where there’s nothing to do. Jumping turns on the lights, just as we remember things working in the show.

The Tanners did have a basement in ALF, but if I remember correctly we only ever heard that it was full of shit from Willie and Kate’s honeymoon. They even have their original box of condoms, still factory sealed. But we never got to see it, unless Satan is keeping up his end of the deal and actually wiping my memories of the show.

Now we not only see it but we learn that it houses the secret entrance to a cave.

Jesus fuck, Willie, fix your damn house. Are you just hoping that some C.H.U.D.s will find their way in and eat Brian?

I’m honestly assuming I need to find some more items to progress in this direction, but what the hell. ALF isn’t especially fazed by discovering the secret entrance to a cave, so I guess I shouldn’t be either.

I die literally the moment I enter the cave.

The mouse from before appears behind me before I can even move and murders me, as mice are wont to do. You remember that mouse, right? The mouse that the game made sure we scared off before getting anywhere near the cave? Well also it’s right behind you and if you don’t shag ass you’re fucked.

How god damned weak is ALF that a mouse bumping into his ankle kills him instantly?

Anyway, we see the bats we were warned about when we found the salami, and ALF automatically brandishes it over his head like a flyswatter, so I guess we have to swat mammals out of the sky with a beeflog here in this shitty game for idiots.

Pressing 2 swings the salami, which sounds like a dirty joke, and now I’m mad because I can’t actually make that dirty joke. I died less than one second after taking this screengrab because I tried to jump onto the platform and for some reason just jumped straight up, giving the mouse plenty of time to bump into my ankle again and, obviously, murder me on the spot.

When I die here I restart at the entrance of the cave, and I have to remember to immediately move left because if I don’t, I’ll be killed by the fucking mouse in a matter of about one second. I still don’t know why ALF wouldn’t jump onto the platform, so this trial-and-error isn’t really working in my favor. I can’t even see how many Malmacian genitals I have left, because in the first area that can actually kill you they decide not to show you your lives.

This time I try to jump onto the ledge again and jump directly into a bat, because ALF controls like a fucking cinder block.

Then I realize I can walk under the platform and skip the jumping altogether so I do that and…

…really?

It’s a trap. I can’t do anything. Maybe I can jump over the mouse and go back the other way, but I die when I try it and Jesus Christ, guys, I used to like video games. I really did.

Well, then. I guess that’s that. It’s only fair I answer their question honestly…

Oh, alright.

It starts me off back at the cave entrance, which is nice. It means I don’t have to do both of the things I did already.

This time I jump into the bat three times while trying to get on to the ledge. The fourth time I manage to bat a few…bats out of the way, but they move so erratically and ALF moves so stiffly that there’s really no way to time anything. You just have to keep pressing 2 again and again, hoping your swings connect.

If you’d like to experience ALF: The Video Game but can’t afford it and don’t know how to emulate, there’s a home version you can play with your family. Ready? Pick up a controller and press a button over and over again, as fast or as slowly as you like.

There. You lose.

Wasn’t that fun?

This time I don’t get the option to continue. THANKS. I guess you can only do that once, so back to the start of the game for me…

I restart. I do all the shit I already did, but with less typing angry notes to myself for this article.

I get killed by the bats four more times and have to continue again.

Don’t get me wrong, ALF was fucking terrible. But who the fuck watched it and decided the video game should be about ALF slapping bats across the face with a meatstick? Is this really something that would please even die-hard fans of the show? Who is this for? People who hate bats and sausage?

I die four more times to the bats and have to start the game over.

The hit detection is abysmal. Sometimes the salami kills the bat, and sometimes the bat kills ALF as though it collided with his actual salami. This game is fucking terrible, and I’m not sure why a mediocre puzzle adventure feels compelled to pivot on a dime to become the world’s worst platforming bat-brawler.

I die four more times to the bats and have to continue again. I learn that after you kill a bat, it flutters slowly toward the bottom of the screen. If a single molecule in ALF’s toenail connects with the dead bat, you of course die instantly.

I die four more to the bats times and have to start the game over. There is no rhythm you can get into and no way to hit the bats more effectively. You’re in a cramped space with little room to maneuver and a character that anyway controls like an old shopping cart.

Sometimes you hit a bat and it doesn’t matter. Sometimes the bat attacks from an angle that you can’t possibly hit, because ALF seems to believe weapons are to be held two feet above your head at all times. In theory you could see that a bat is coming in at an unfavorable angle and move away, but since sometimes direct salami connections don’t count and sometimes a clear swing and a miss will kill a bat, there’s no way of knowing. You may think you’re moving away from getting hit but you could just as easily be moving away from a swing that would have killed the bat. It’s a crap shoot each time.

This is a fucking nightmare.

I die four more times and continue. I die four more times after that and have to start the game over. I make it further than ever before, but it doesn’t matter because this fucking cave never ends.

I die four more times and continue. I keep dying because the screen doesn’t scroll unless ALF is nearly at the edge, which means bats can pop out of nowhere and leave me with no reaction time. ALF can’t walk while swinging his salami (for me it just sort of happens naturally) so repeatedly attacking the whole way isn’t possible. You have to stop moving to attack, and stop attacking to move. Whenever you move, there’s a 50% chance you’ll walk face-first into a bat. Whenever you attack, there’s a 50% chance it won’t matter.

I’m not bad at playing video games, guys. Aside from crying it’s the one thing I do well. I beat every fucking Robot Master stage in the entire Mega Man series without taking damage, but I can’t make it to the end of ALF’s fucking salami cave?

I die two more times.

But then…

Holy shit! The cave has an end! ALF finds…a shed, I guess? And a gold nugget. He makes a shitty joke of a type that’s entirely in keeping with his behavior in the show: he mentions something you might recognize. Maybe the actual writers did make this game.

I die literally as soon as I close that text box because I guess there was a bat hiding behind it. This might be a slight blessing, as it looks like the “correct” way out is to walk all the fucking way back to the beginning of the salami tunnel. Dying, though, puts me right back at the entrance, so I leave, and, sure enough, I seem to still have the gold nugget. I retreat back to a screen that shows my inventory, because that’s certainly the way games should work, and I see I now have $50.

Woo! Spending spree!

Except that I now have only one life and no continues.

This is sure to go well.

I finally walk left of that main hallway and end up in the Tanner living room, with their famous inward facing couches. Nothing here is interactive and the Alien Task Force guy keeps grabbing at my last remaining genital so off we go!

Leaving the house puts us right back on the road. Fine. I’m just glad it isn’t another fucking bat cave.

Nearly all of the stores have CLOSED signs on them and I can’t even work up anger over the fact that this game features ALF walking around the neighborhood and visiting shops in broad daylight.

Finally, after what seems like forever, I find a store that’s open. In a fuck you for playing this far, the game’s “art style” degrades yet again so that the store is just a menu rendered in ASCII characters.

I can buy a key, a ladder, a fish, or a costume. I can only afford two of those things and I have no clue what a fish would be used for, whereas the key, I assume, will open doors in the Tanner house. I’ll go with that.

I walk out the door and get immediately killed by a biker who was on a completely different horizontal plane from me. He doesn’t even have the courtesy to stick around and watch me ascend into Heaven.

No continues. I have to start all over again.

I get back to the caves and die four more times. I continue. I die for more times and start over.

If there were actually any chance of getting better at this segment, I might possibly not hate it so much. Instead it’s just like flipping a coin 50 times in a row, and calling yourself a winner if it lands on heads every time. It will eventually happen, but it sure as shit won’t feel satisfying.

I die four more times and continue. I die four more times and start over.

This would be easier if I used save states for sure, but I want to have the actual, intended experience of the game. Watching ALF would have been easier if I fast forwarded the whole fucking mess but then I wouldn’t have had the right to bitch that a show about a farting puppet wasn’t very good, so I think we can all agree I’m making the right choice.

I die four more times and continue. I die four more times and start over. I die four more times and continue. I die four more times and start over.

Through some kind of miracle I make it back to the shed and find the fucking gold nugget on my first life. This is good. This is very good. I have all of my lives and a continue. If I don’t beat this fucking game now, I never will.

Hey, look. The bat hiding behind the text box this time didn’t kill me, so I was able to proceed left and confirm that…the universe ends?

Either this is an invisible wall and I won’t be able to proceed that way, or it’s a pit that kills me. Knowing this game, it’s the latter, so I’ll try walking back to the entrance.

A mouse that can levitate kills me seconds later.

Fine.

I spend way too fucking long trying to figure out how to get ALF to climb up some stairs, because this game is just that well made. I eventually manage it but I couldn’t tell you how. I just pressed everything forever and screamed profanities into the void. It seemed to work okay.

On my way out to rebuy the key, I realize there was a door in the living room I didn’t try because Fingers Magoo was blocking it. Shockingly it isn’t locked, and it takes me to the Tanners’ back yard. Or side yard, since I was in the back yard already? Who knows.

Continuity props for including the gate between the Tanners’ and Ochmoneks’ property. I don’t personally remember there being a moat around the house, but I’m sure that’s correct, too.

Yes, I can read the sign, but I try getting in the water anyway, and I learn that ALF actually has to put on more clothes to go swimming. Strangely enough, he just stands on top of the water rather than splashing around in panic or something, as though the water’s surface may only be broken by swimsuits.

I learn that if I keep the Alien Task Force guy on the screen, another won’t spawn ahead of me, meaning I won’t have to step into the road and be killed by another biker. (As we all remember from the show, the Alien Task Force is biologically unable to walk on tarmacadam.)

Thus begins my extremely fun progress through this area, which consists of me taking a few steps and waiting for this guy to shuffle a little closer, honking air tits at me all the way. Then I take another few steps and JESUS CHRIST HURRY UP DO YOU WANT TO CATCH THIS ALIEN OR NOT

I learn that, for no reason whatsoever, the jump button is disabled on street scenes. Despite the fact that, y’know, there’s a fast-moving enemy in the road you might want to jump over. THANKS. Also, the inventory screen isn’t displayed, despite the fact that you might want to know how much money you have before you go shopping. THANKS TOO.

I go left to see what else there is on this street, and you seriously can’t imagine just how tedious it is to walk slowly past endless buildings with CLOSED written on the door. I take a few steps and have to wait for the background music to cycle completely before this handsy fucker even gets close to me. He’s slow as all shit but my alternative is to scroll him off the screen and have his double spawn in front of me, forcing me into the road where I CANNOT JUMP OVER THINGS THAT KILL ME FROM COMPLETELY DIFFERENT HORIZONTAL PLANES.

Fuck.

Finally I make it to a bright yellow building that also sells things.

This place carries whatever an ALF book is and a lantern, and, just like in all five-and-dimes, everything costs exactly $100.

I can’t afford this shit so off I go.

Oh please Jesus no not more shuffling no please no

Actually this time it doesn’t take very long. I reach the end of the road and learn that it wraps around; I’m back in the yard.

I take a celebratory shit on the lawn.

Anyway, off I go, into the house to unlock some doors, baby! Now THIS is action!

Brian and Lynne’s bedroom is closest, so I go there first.

The key indeed opens the door but…I can’t seem to do anything else. I can’t interact with it or go through it or anything. Fun. Can’t wait to find out I was supposed to buy the fish instead.

I go to Willie and Kate’s room and open the door on the right side of the screen. Some kind of insect was in there and it kills me without warning. It happened so fast I couldn’t take a screengrab.

I went back and it was still there. LOVELY STUFF.

It followed me into Brian and Lynn’s room and killed me again. Feels so good to be burning through these lives. I swear to fuck if I have to do that bat cave again I will shit.

I enter the room again and the bug immediately kills me because it spawns on the same side of the screen that I do.

I have to continue. This is it. FUCK.

The bug, of course, is still there, but I make it to the last door. It opens and I get the swimsuit.

So, just to be clear, there are three doors you can open. There are no clues about what is behind any of them. One does nothing, one kills you, and one gives you what you need to progress. It’s like that old story, “The Lady and the Tiger and the Door With Nothing Behind It.”

I’m joking but I’m absolutely fucking terrified I’ll die and have to do the bat cave again thanks to this “surprise, motherfucker” bullshit.

I head back out to the water and…

Oh fuck no.

Another action sequence. This one isn’t nearly as bad as the bat cave, because the enemies move and behave reliably. The cat fish GET IT swim back and forth, and the harpoon guys fire when you get near their vertical axes. Easy, right?

Well, yeah…but you can only learn how they behave though trial and error. Which is how I blow through all four of my remaining lives.

I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be doing in that fucking water. At one point I found a treasure chest, but the text box didn’t stay on screen long enough for me to read a single word of it. There are air pockets to suck on as you go down, so I guess whatever I’m looking for is all the way at the bottom.

I don’t know. And I may never know. Because to even get another shot at this, I NEED TO REDO THE BAT CAVE FUCK

Hold please.

I’m going to do some soul searching.

Okay. I’ve slept on it. I’ve even consulted the manual again to discover that three of the four “helpful hints” are specifically about the fucking bat cave, meaning the developers absolutely knew it was needlessly challenging bullshit, but rather than, y’know, fix it they decided to add a hints page.

The other bullet isn’t a hint of any kind; it just tells you that if you sit still and cry long enough ALF will knock on the screen and bitch at you. For a good laugh, scroll up and see the screengrab.

In all honesty, I’d be (more or less) okay with the game giving away its more esoteric secrets in the manual. It’s not ideal game design, but it’s not a huge problem. Here, though, the game is admitting that it’s a piece of shit.

“Can’t beat the bats? Well, they’re tough, so just keep trying.”

“Died after getting the gold nugget? Well, so did our playtesters so let’s just ignore it and move on.”

And, for the record, “Where does your mom keep the lunch meat?” is the world’s greatest insult.

So I don’t know, guys. On the one hand, I really want to play this game properly. On the other hand, the game essentially comes with a note from the developers saying “Sorry we made a heap of shit.”

I’ve decided to allow myself one save state. Just one.

I’ll replay the game until I can get to the gold nugget again on my first life. I did it once before, so I don’t feel too bad. I’ll lay down a save state there, and that’s it. That’s the only way I’ll ever finish ALF: The Video Game, so if you’d rather read my writeup of that than ALF Gets Eaten By Bats Six Thousand Times on the Same Screen, that’s what we’re going to do.

I need a different emulator to use save states, so forgive the change in image quality. I KNOW THEY WERE SO BEAUTIFUL TO LOOK AT

It actually only takes me one further death (and reload) to get the gold nugget. Praise the Lord.

I figure I’ll test out that end-of-the-universe thing I saw before.

ALF dies.

RELOAD SAVE STATE I GUESS

I try to leave the cave properly and get killed by a bat. This warps me back to the cave entrance and, yes, the manual tells you that you don’t need to get the gold nugget again, but since the inventory isn’t displayed, there’s no way for a player to actually confirm that they’ve collected it. Rock on!

There’s an Alien Task Force guy in the living room who kills me. This warps me back to the yard for some reason.

Then it’s back to

OH CHRIST NO

I can’t take it. I can’t take listening to this fucking music loop endlessly while a man with no knees hobbles toward me.

Fuck safety. I sprint down the road and somehow don’t die. I find the general store, buy the key, and open the correct closet door, solving the clever puzzle that the game provided hints about in the form of killing me a bunch of times.

Then it’s back to the fucking sea dive I guess.

I make it to that treasure chest easily enough. This section isn’t fun by any stretch of the imagination, but at least it’s an actual game. It has enemies with recognizable patterns of behavior and ways to reliably make it through.

This time when I grab the treasure chest I get to read the message.

ALF: The Video Game, I’ve been to Vegas. I know Vegas. Vegas gave me my favorite STDs. ALF: The Video Game, you’re no Vegas.

Wondering how much money this pirate treasure is worth? Too bad; the inventory doesn’t display on this screen, either. Eat my balls.

I’m assuming there’s more at the bottom, so down we go.

I get killed by a harpoon guy immediately. The next time, though, I do make it to the bottom, where I again die immediately.

“What oyster?” you may ask. Well, it’s behind the text box, and I didn’t see it either because you have to be all the way at the bottom of the screen for it to scroll, so I guess I bumped into it before it even existed and now I am dead.

On my way back down I get killed by another harpoon guy and I’m at the continue screen.

Fucking hell this game sucks.

Anyway, back to the oyster.

This time I descend on the far left side of the screen and, sure enough, I can see the oyster chomping away. Since the manual told me the pearl is a collectible item, I assume I have to time it so that I grab it while the thing’s mouth is open. Fair enough.

Actually, wait. If I didn’t get the pearl, does that mean its mouth was closed?

Then how did the fucking thing bite me?

I HATE THIS

I am now telling the computer exactly what ALF can do with the pearl.

Of course I need to swim all the way back up. But being as this is an actual game and not a mindless bat gantlet, I might actually survive the return trip.

Seriously, WAS EVERY SCREEN CODED BY A DIFFERENT PERSON?

A harpoon guy kills me.

I only now realize how odd it is that the little swimming cats are enemies and not bonus items or something. In Soviet video game, cats eat ALF.

My death warps me to the top of the water sequence, and then I leave and go back to the yard, where the status bar doesn’t display so I still can’t see what any of the shit I picked up is worth. Nice.

The grabby guy in the living room kills me because I touch the brim of his hat while trying to jump over him, but at least I can see that my deep-sea dive netted me a cool $300. That’s still not enough to buy all the shit I’ve seen for sale so I guess I’ll be hunting for more treasure somewhere else soon. Fantastic.

I go to the five and dime, because it’s closer to where the game restarts me. Selling the pearl gets me another $100, which means I can buy both items here and still have $200 left over for the general store.

Cool! I purchase the lantern and the ALF book.

As soon as I leave the shop, the ALF book opens up, I guess?

I press B1.

I press B1.

I press B1.

what

what

what no

WHAT

What the fuck is this shit?

The book didn’t even just kill me; it took ALL my lives away and reset the entire game. Was it the fucking Necronomicon?

Is this seriously the whole point of the ALF book? Just to kick little kids in the fucking balls? I honestly thought this was a cute little bonus while I was reading the text. You know…a kind of optional item that lets you read about ALF’s backstory, which would have been pretty nice in the pre-DVD days, when a lot of fans hadn’t seen the relevant (mainly early) episodes.

But then…

It really does take me back to the title screen, where ALF is making the same face I am right now.

Can you imagine if I hadn’t set that save state? If I read the fucking ALF book and had to do the fucking bats all over again just because I bought a seemingly innocuous item from the store?

Jesus Lord above. This isn’t just a bad game…this is a game actively designed to fuck you.

I know graphical adventure games, especially those made by Sierra, had a habit of killing you for doing silly things. However, they were nearly always things there were major hints you shouldn’t do. Yes, you can drink from the pool of acid, but you should be pretty well aware that’s a bad idea before the game punishes you for it. What’s more, though, those games allowed you to save your progress at any point.

Death in those games was sometimes a kind of reward, and the save-anywhere system allowed you to experiment both to figure out puzzle solutions and to do clearly stupid things just so you could see the unique death animations and read the mocking messages. It was part of the experience, and the experience was built around it. A silly death wouldn’t be funny if it happened four hours into the game with no warning and no way to restore your progress.

ALF: The Video Game isn’t being cute. This is outright malicious.

I load the save state and a bat kills me. Fine.

I buy the key and the dirt bike kid kills me. Fine.

I get the bathing suit and the pirate treasure, then I’m killed by a water snake, a cat fish, and a harpoon guy. Fine. I continue.

I’m killed by two harpoon guys. I get the pearl and I’m killed by one harpoon guy. On the way to the five and dime I’m killed by the dirt bike kid.

Fuck this game.

You know what, though? I’ve decided. The game betrayed my trust as a player. The ALF book has proven that this game doesn’t care if I only fail through fault of my own, so I’m leveling the playing field. I’m going to set down another save state before that water sequence, and after if it goes well.

I’m killed by a bat leaving the cave, and I’m convinced it’s impossible to escape alive. Then I’m killed by the dirt bike kid.

I get back to the treasure and the pearl, but due to having to time the oyster’s biting, I end up reaching for it as soon as an impossible-to-see harpoon guy fires down from off-screen.

It kills me. Whatever. At least I’m out of the water part.

I go to the general store first this time and sell the pearl. I also try to sell the swimsuit and the game reveals that it’s as sick of me as I am of it.

I buy the ladder, because it’s the only thing here that seems useful. Presumably it will somehow behead me the moment I walk out of the store, or format my computer.

I go back to the five and dime for the lantern. I have exactly $100 left over. Hey, that’s exactly the price of the ALF book! So anyone who just buys it because they have that precise amount of money left over and might as well pick up another item will get a real kick in the throat.

ALF: The Video Game, fuck you on behalf of all of those kids.

I make it back to the house without incident. Surely I need to be nearing the end of this fucking thing.

I thought for sure the ladder would help me get to the spaceship, but I can’t figure out any way to use it. I resorted to checking that walkthrough and discovered I actually have to go through the fucking bat cave again.

Only, this time, further.

MOTHERF

Save state.

I’m killed by bats twice. Reload state both times. I make it back to that little shed thing, only there’s what I assume is that ladder I bought stretched over a gap. Not sure why, since I didn’t need it to reach the shed the first time, but whatever. Save state…

Killed by a mouse and then a bat. Reload both times.

Now, instead of that black void that killed me before — remember when ALF fell in the hole? — the screen just keeps going.

THERE WAS NO HOLE YOU FUCKS

Jesus Christ does this bat cave ever end? I have slapped more bats out of the sky with a salami stick than any human being should ever have to.

I turn down the music. I can’t stand it anymore. It’s genuinely giving me a headache. It’s so fucking shrill. To hell with experiencing this game as intended. I’ll end up in a fucking institution.

I make it to the end, finally, and…

I find the same fucking shed with a different message.

Fuck you, game.

And what the shit is Melmacian scooter fuel doing in a second shed at the end of a long-ass secret bat cave underneath the Tanner house? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE.

Surely the game wants me to walk all the way back out of this cave. Surely this game can pork itself sideways.

A bat kills me and I’m out of the cave. The phrase “the sweet release of death” has never made so much sense to me.

Anyway, to the scooter I fuckin’ guess. I save state there, because there’s no way in shit I’m trusting that the game won’t pull some kind of massive bullshit.

I rose into the air and died for no reason that I could comprehend before I could even get a screenshot.

The game pulled some kind of massive bullshit.

Loading state…

I try again and what fresh hell is this

Little Fisher-Price airplanes fly by. At least I assume that’s what they are, because otherwise ALF is the fucking length of a jetliner.

It’s not difficult at all to avoid them. On my first try I make it to my goal, a space station, which is represented in proud ALF: The Video Game tradition by a menu composed of ASCII characters.

I guess I’ll buy the space suit.

When I leave I get a little scene with ALF flying away from the space station, so enjoy it. It was on screen for all of eight frames.

Then I guess I’m flying again, only now there are green comets and some kind of little Sputnik thing to avoid. Sputnik kills me, twice. This is much harder than the airplane sequence was.

I continue.

Sputnik kills me four more times. Game over.

This part pretty much sucks. You can move left and right easily enough, but pressing 1 causes you to ascend slowly and releasing it causes equally slow descent, making it difficult to avoid the fast-moving Sputnik.

There’s no way of knowing where it will appear, and it moves horizontally, your slow vertical movement making it sometimes impossible to get out of its way fast enough. If you move left or right while ascending or descending you can buy yourself a bit of extra time to get out of the way, but that can easily get you hit by the otherwise trivial comets, which move vertically.

Each time you die, you start back at the space station. The music is different here but even more shrill.

I reload the state. I’m killed by a comet and then by Sputnik. I continue.

I’m killed by Sputnik. I nearly make it to the moon, presumably my goal, but I’m killed by Sputnik.

I’m killed by Sputnik twice more and load the state.

I’m killed twice more by Sputnik. I fail to continue because the cursor defaults to NO, perhaps as an act of mercy. Load the state.

Sputnik kills me and a comet kills me. Continue. Sputnik kills me three times, a comet kills me once. Load state. Comet kills me. Sputnik kills me.

Continue. I have never seen the moon again.

Sputnik kills me four times. Load state. Sputnik kills me twice. Continue.

I finally make it back to the moon. The screen stops scrolling and I have no idea where to go. Sputnik starts moving diagonally. I fucking scream.

Finally I manage to do whatever the fuck I had to do. I guess I needed to position the scooter just beneath, but not in, the moon’s open mouth. Because inside the mouth, I assume, is a spaceship repair kit.

The moon has a fucking tongue, people.

ALF flies away and the game ends.

Well, at the very least, I can say that this game has definitely earned the right to bear the name ALF.

Just like in “Consider Me Gone,” Skip and Rhonda drive the plot and are neither seen nor heard. In the show, the fact that we didn’t see them at least was understandable; the puppets might not have existed anymore, or they could have gotten damaged since the first and only time we’d seen them in season one.

But here? Where we could mock up a quick pixel doodle of them and a text window that says CONGLATURATION. YOU’VE HAVE LONCHED THE SPACES SHIP! WELCOME HOME AL!!! it’s simply inexcusable.

And that’s it. That’s literally the whole ending. You’ve missed nothing. I’ll never get my life back.

Just to make sure nobody ever asks me to play this again, I started the game over and bought the two items I didn’t before, to see what they do. It’s much less frustrating this time because the game gradually taught me the correct way to play it which means I was able to improve at a reliable rate whoops actually it’s because I just keep using save states after every fucking bat.

I redo all the shit I wish I never had to do in the first place until I buy the key and return to Willie’s closet. This time I know which door houses the swimsuit, so I don’t have to guess, except when I open that door, the insect comes out and kills me.

This time, the swimsuit is in Brian and Lynne’s closet. So…Jesus Christ? It’s bad enough there are no in-game clues as to which door will kill you and which will help you advance, but every time you play the game it’s different, so there’s no way to just remember the solution and avoid this Melmacian Roulette bullshit.

When I dove, though, I found a cool glitch where three enemies embedded themselves in each other and couldn’t move.

That’s the most fun I’ve had with this game.

So okay, after the dive I have all the money I need to buy the items I haven’t tried yet.

The fish seems to do nothing. I bought it, left with it, went swimming with it, and nothing happened. Here’s a screengrab proving it’s in my inventory; that little icon is all you get for your money, so far as I can tell.

The instruction manual has this to say about the fish: “What’s the mystery surrounding this scaly object? None, really…but it does make the game interesting!” Yes, I am so interested in the game siphoning $20 out of my coffers for a dummy item.**

I also purchased the costume, which you’ll remember is supposed to make the Alien Task Force agents overlook you.

And, surprisingly, it works! It also creeps the shit out of me to look at but it works!

Of course, this being ALF: The Video Game, there are a few catches.

1) It stops the Alien Task Force agents from spawning at all, so it’s kind of disappointing that we don’t get to see them grabbing at a clown’s anus.

2) It replaces the Alien Task Force agents with dogs, as you’ll see in the screengrab. They run far more quickly than the shamblin’ squeezers, which actually makes you far more likely to get hit. If they catch you, the costume disappears and you’re right back where you were, with the agents reappearing and you in grave danger. It’s useless.

3) The costume disappears when you’re in the house, despite the fact that the place is swarming with Alien Task Force agents and the item would be very useful here, as the rooms are cramped and you can’t move vertically to evade them like you can on the road.

This means the costume functions on a whopping one screen in the game, and it makes that screen harder.

SO GLAD I WENT BACK FOR THAT

So, is ALF: The Video Game any good?

Fuck off no.

Nothing about it is good. The controls are stiff, the animations are either hilariously simple or non-existent, the puzzles are often guessing games, the action sequences are unplayable half the time and too easy the rest, it looks like crap, it sounds like crap, it kills you for curiosity, despite the fact that random guessing is the only way to solve anything in this fucking game, and my favorite thing about it is that it took another several years off my miserable life.

I’ll admit, though, I like the premise. A lot could have been done with this. In another time and place, I can absolutely imagine a game like this working. You’re a beloved little alien wandering around, collecting the items necessary to leave Earth in your spaceship, avoiding government agents who are trying to take you away. That’s a can’t-miss premise, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

Oh

Tune in next year when I review the fuckin’ paper plates.

DEATH TOLL:
Bat – 68
Sputnik – 24
Harpoon Guy – 9
Mouse – 5
Comet – 4
Dirt Bike Kid – 4
Insect in Willie’s Closet – 3
Alien Task Force – 2
Water Snake – 1
The Bottom of a Screen – 1
Cat Fish – 1
Oyster – 1
A Deep Hole – 1

* This is unintentionally, I’m sure, open to interpretation. ALF has no halo, for instance, and his wings look far more like those of a demon’s than of an angel’s. But he does, in fact, ascend Heavenward as opposed to descend Hellward. And wait, is ALF going to Earth Heaven, with God? Not Memlacian Heaven, with Barry? God didn’t make this piece of shit; what does He want with him?

** If anyone out there has found a use for the fish, please contact me. I’d like to fly to your house and punch you in the balls.

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