Gaming Memories #1: Die! Alien Slime (Commodore 64)

Die-Alien-Slime-Commodore-64Do you remember the first game purchased with your own hard earned pocket money? Making the small trek to Planet Games back in the good ol' days of the late 80s (exact dates elude me as now I can't even do simple maths let alone remember an arbitrary time period) and spending what must have felt like an eternity for my dad as my brother and I picked our first ever store bought games. We were lucky enough to get a Commodore 64 one Christmas - my dad must have worked six jobs at the time as we weren't a well to do family so fair play to him - so we already had some pack in games but there is nothing quite like poring over countless cassette tapes, artwork, squinting at screen shots and (more importantly) the prices to find that one game to rule them all for the next six months before a birthday or even the next birth of a false deity. Anyway, unless you have been hit in the head with a rock recently and still can't tell, my first ever game was called Die! Alien Slime and it cost me around four weeks worth of pocket money at a whopping £1.99! 

I'm not overly sure why I chose the game itself - though it must have been to do with the quality cover art - a space marine with an overly elaborate looking rifle is standing above a seemingly fallen comrade with a cracked helmet - a blob like alien creature just hiding behind the corpse. In the distance another alien approaches, blood spattered up the wall next to it. For a five or six year old lad I sure had grizzly tastes!

Obviously the game itself is no where near as violent as the picture suggests. What can lazily be compared to an Alien Breed meets Alien top down action game, the player is the last survivor aboard the research ship Taccia which is out of control. As per usual shenanigans the military have been breeding aliens in space and it has all gone a bit stereotypically wrong. Cue a ship full of colourful blob monsters and squishy brain creatures standing in your way as you have to activate the self destruct sequence and jet off in the escape shuttle. The title screen music - one of impending dread ala Blade Runner plinks and plonks, setting the tone. Simplistic ambient sound plays during gameplay, the humming of the Traccia corridoors and the pew pew of your gun fire and alien attacks.

The game immediately begins with the player surrounded by the alien horde. Armed with a quite rubbish pistol - exploration is the key here as there are lazers, shot guns, machine guns and plasma blob weapons that all have different strengths and shot speeds to be found. There is never any respite - once an alien is killed another takes its place which at times can be irksome but also adds to the tension. Add into the mix an ever decreasing timer before the game ends (there is only a small window of opportunity before the escape shuttle can't be fired) and it all becomes quite frantic. The task is to find nine computer terminals which in turn will switch on the self destruct but each terminal needs operating disks. Get your graph paper maps at the ready kids as the Taccia is impressively big and hosts many dead ends which consumes precious time. Charting where door keys, consoles and disks are really helps as Die! Alien Slime encourages repeat plays to get familiar with the ship layout so it is easier to navigate each time. Once all nine terminals have been activated, a trip to the boiler room awaits and the activation of the last terminal.

What lies below in the bowels of the Taccia...? Well no one really knew on the C64 version. There was a bug that was unknown at the time that copies were shipped with which crashes the game! Alien Slime is particularly difficult with only one life, small health bar and continuous timer run down but imagine getting so far only for the game to stop. Pagoda Software who created the game are to this day reworking it once more to fix the issue (see links below). Although in researching more into the game I came across an Amstrad version bug too! The player begins the game with the escape pod in view over a black void. Positioned correctly, you can nudge the character onto wires connecting to the pod and move him straight over thus completing the game - though admittedly the Amstrad version is a single screen flick game and doesn't have smooth scrolling like the C64 version, killing the fun a bit. Along with the Spectrum version, neither were made by Pagoda, the C64 version being the original brain child.

die game

Graphically the game does look a little drab - grey spaceship walls and floors surrounded by black bottomless pits, but it suits the mood of the game perfectly. It is a subtly more adult themed title so it doesn't need to be bouncy and colourful. You need dank dark corridoors and the lonely pathos that is aboard TV show Red Dwarf when you peel back its silly charmed vaneer. But if you really need that eye candy then the aliens are various shades of reds, pinks and oranges. As for my recollections of Die! Alien Slime, it will always have a place in my heart as one of my fondest memories and a priceless piece in my collection. Add on today some twenty five years later and I recieve a message from one of the games' creators and it just adds to my love of it and our quirky hobby of videogames! Just take five minutes to think back about your first game - there might be an amazing story about it hidden away that you never even knew about!

Further reading:

Pagoda Sorftware Facebook page

Finding the C64 bug


Last Updated ( 16 May 2016 )  

James 'ewjim' Evans

Jim is a self confessed know it all when it comes to 16-bit gaming. With a strange fondness of playing rubbish videogames for the fun of it, there is no stoop too low he won't go to for entertainment.

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