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Aliens Adventure Game (1991)

God, that cover is just fucked, right? Like, of all the images to put on the cover, then to just murder the color separations like that. Ugh.

Anyway, back in 1989, Leading Edge released a tactical board game based on James Cameron’s Aliens (1986). The board game was a success to the degree that its profits handily funded the company’s other lines. Aliens Adventure Game (1991) was an attempt to cash-in on that success a second time, selling the same basic experience of the board game in RPG form. The system’s focus of firepower and tactics make it a good fit for re-enacting the events of the film, with players taking the roles of hardened colonial marines. And while the continuing appeal seems limited, there is a surprising amount of material in the book that expands the universe of the franchise (and a wealth of stills from the movie). Additional star sectors are sketched out, new alien species are presented (all of them hewing, in some way, close to the xenomorphs of the film, in order to inject just the right amount of variety into the formula of marines shooting stuff in close quarter, usually subterranean, environments). One sector even lives on beyond the Leading Edge RPG. Tartarus, with its burrowing Harvester creatures, is included in the recent Alien: The Roleplaing Game (2019), from Free League.

As with the two ridiculous RPGs the followed — Bram Stoker’s Dracula Role Playing Game and The Lawnmower Man Virtual Reality Role Playing GameAliens is a slightly simplified version of the Phoenix Command RPG that sprang out of a mid-80s obsession with Rambo, Commando and Red Dawn. Weird that they never got that Terminator 2 RPG out into the world.

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