There isn’t a horror fan alive today who hasn’t been affected in some way, shape, or form by the works of Swiss surrealist artist H.R. Giger. From his work on the Alien and Species series to his art that has inspired and influenced countless films, it’s clear that he was, and still is, one of the driving forces in sci-fi and horror.
While many people may know of the Dark Seed games, which were psychological horror point-and-clicks featuring Giger’s artwork, what some people may not know is that there were other classic era games that clearly took inspiration from the artist in their level and creature designs.
I’ve gathered three such examples for you to check out below. Let’s see how much of a nostalgia trip I’m about to send some of you on!
Also, make sure to leave a comment with some Giger-esque designs that you found in old games in case we make a part 2!
The Astyanax (aka The Lord of King)
Released as both an arcade unit and as a NES title, The Astyanax was designed, produced, AND directed by Tokuhiro Takemori (Avenging Spirit, RoboWarrior) and follows a young warrior who, armed with a magical battle axe, proceeds to absolutely tear shit up*.
What stands out in this game is the 6th and final level, which sees Astyanax enter a level that can only be described as the Xenomorph spaceship from Alien. There are facehugger-esque creatures, backgrounds that are pretty much an exact replica of the ship, and you even face banana head-shaped creatures whose arms extend almost like the secondary mouth. It’s blatantly obvious that Giger’s work had a very, very strong influence on this particular level.
*That isn’t exactly how it’s phrased in the manual.
Streets of Rage 2
So, we’re all pretty much in agreement that Giger’s work is, on top of being a terrifying blend of organic with mechanical, rife with sexual innuendo and, in some cases, completely forward about its “sexiness”, right?
That’s why the horror house segment of the amusement park level in Streets of Rage 2 stands out. The background looks like the walls we saw in Aliens and there are eggs with Xenormorph-like creatures lurking inside. When those eggs are destroyed, the explode and harm the player, much like how the acid blood would harm the characters in the Alien films.
But the stand out creature was the random head that elongates and almost screams when hit, much like the Xenomorph does. And when destroyed, the leftover “stump” resembles a Giger-designed vagina and no one can tell me any different.
Hailed as one of the hardest games to ever be released on consoles, Contra gave me nightmares simply because I couldn’t beat it without using the infamous Konami code. But for those who were able to progress far into the game and ultimately reach the end, they’d enter a level that was pure Giger. From the giant Xenomorph that spouts floating Alien babies to the wall design to the four eggs surrounding the final boss (a heart?) that spew out a seemingly endless stream of facehuggers… It’s all there!
Admittedly, it’d be far more apparent if the color scheme had been changed from varying reds to more dark gray and greens. However, I think that’s precisely why they didn’t do just that. Can’t make it TOO obvious, like The Astyanax, now can we?