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Area 51

Genre

Shooter

Console

MAME

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MAME

Area 51

Area 51 is a light gun arcade game released by Atari Games in 1995.[4] It takes its name from the military facility. The plot of the game involves the player taking part in a Strategic Tactical Advanced Alien Response (STAAR) military incursion to prevent aliens, known as the Kronn, and alien-created zombies from taking over the Area 51 military facility.

Produced as a last-ditch effort to reverse Atari’s struggling fortunes, Area 51 largely underwhelmed critics, but was well-liked by players and became a major hit. The game was ported to the PlayStationSega Saturn and personal computers. Atari further capitalized on its success with Maximum Force, which used the same arcade board and similar graphics techniques and gameplay, and a direct sequel, Area 51: Site 4.

Gameplay

A screenshot showing the player engaging in a battle with multiple opponents.

This game takes the player through several sections of the facility, including a warehouse and tunnels. The player character is tasked, along with fellow Special Tactical Advanced Alien Response (STAAR) members Lieutenant Stephanie Grant and Sergeant Major Marcus Bradley, to penetrate Area 51 and activate the nuclear self-destruct sequence. The player must defeat genetically modified zombie soldiers and aliens without harming any allied STAAR team members. If nothing but three STAAR team members are shot, the Kronn Hunter mode is started, taking the role of a Hunter, sent by the Kronn to eliminate the rebels.[5]

There are five types of weaponry available. While the player is only given a semi-automatic pistol in the beginning, weapon upgrades are available as targets. The pistol can be upgraded to an automatic machine gun, a pump shotgun, and finally an automatic shotgun. The shotgun weaponry allows a greater field of error for targeting an enemy. Both the machine gun and automatic shotgun allow the player to keep the trigger pressed down to unleash rounds. If the player character is hit by the enemy at any time, the weapon is downgraded back to the pistol.

Development

In 1994, publisher Atari Games was in desperate need of a hit, having gone years without a single profitable game and losing most of their most talented developers to rival publisher Electronic Arts. As such, they directed Ed Logg to create a light gun shooter, which was one of the most popular game genres in arcades at the time.[6] However, Logg also left to join Electronic Arts while the game, Bounty Hunter, was still unfinished.[6] At this point executives at Atari Games felt it would be safer to entrust development to an external team, and approached Mesa Logic head Robert Weatherby about his team (Hector Silva, James Mestemaker, Guy Fumagali and James Web) taking over Bounty Hunter. After playing Bounty Hunter and finding it underwhelming, Weatherby asked for a few months to come up with and develop a pitch for his own gun game concept, to which Atari agreed.[7]

Reception

PublicationScore
AllGame (ARC)[12]
 (PS1)[13]
 (SAT)[14]
Computer and Video Games1/10 (PS1)[15]
Electronic Gaming Monthly5.675/10 (SAT)[16]
GameSpot7.1/10 (SAT)[17]
IGN7/10 (SAT)[18]
Next Generation (ARC)[20]
 (PS1)[21]
Computer Games Magazine (PC)[19]
Sega Saturn Magazine72% (SAT)[22]

Area 51  Marquee

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