Area 51 in Gaming
Recently, U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made some headlines by suggesting that if she were to be elected president she might take steps to declassify files relating to Area 51. Indeed, The Independent quoted Mrs. Clinton saying that unless the files are a threat to national security, they should and will be released to the public.
Comments like these have put one of the world’s most famous UFO-related locations in the world back in the news for the first time in a while, and have naturally captured the imagination of UFO theorists all over the world. If Clinton does win the presidency – and right now she’s the favourite to do so – she’ll presumably be held to these comments by the public, which means she could potentially either dash or fuel the hopes of those who want to see Area 51 exposed as a former alien crash site or something of the like.
We’ll see what happens with all this in the next year or so, with U.S. elections set for November. But in the meantime the whole issue has made me look back on Area 51 – reading Wikipedia pages, recapping absurd Ancient Aliens episodes and the like. And in the process I’ve discovered that this conspiracy hotbed actually has a more interesting history in gaming than you may realise.
The first major Area 51 game was an Atari arcade machine produced in 1995, and called simply “Area 51.” Once you get a look at it (Arcade-Museum shows some screenshots, as well as an image of the machine itself), you may remember having come across it in an arcade, at a pool or cinema, etc. This was a game not unlike Time Crisis and other arcade shooters of its time, and I can actually recall it being a pretty fun experience. You basically battled through multiple stages of Area 51, fighting off aliens and mutated soldiers in an effort to activate a self-destruct signal for all of the base. Along the way, you could pick up various kinds of guns, as well as grenades to do a bit more damage. It was a pretty standard game, but a nice twist on shooters for fans of alien fiction.
The 1995 game eventually made its way to Playstation and PC, but ultimately the more advanced and more practical Area 51 game was a brand new 2005 version of the same name, designed by Midway Games. Developed for PS2, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows, the game received a very strong rating in IGN, and was called “one hell of a party.” Indeed, this was a surprisingly deep game, infused with a complex plot involving crashed aliens, the Illuminati, and a secret research facility where aliens are allowed to conduct experiments on human subjects. Beyond that it’s effectively a first-person shooter that was probably a little bit ahead of its time. And perhaps best of all, David Duchovny – a very popular actor among sci-fi fans – voiced the protagonist.
Beyond these arcade and console games, the most accessible Area 51-related game these days may actually be a bingo simulation, of all things. Gala Bingo’s site is known for having several games based on popular TV shows and even films, but their “Area 75” bingo room is basically just a nod to the popular conspiracy theories about the Area 51 military base. It’s assigned a different number, but the game description still invokes Area 51 and UFO conspiracies, offering players the chance to win money that’s “out of this world.” It’s more of a casino game than an action experience, clearly, but it’s still a fun gaming option for those who enjoy alien theories.
Finally, there’s also an online arcade game called Area 51 Massacre that you can find on Kongregate. It’s worth mentioning because of its title, as well as because it’s surprisingly addictive, but really it has little to do with Area 51. You control a small person with a gun (and, just a tip, unlimited ammunition) and simply roam around a vaguely drawn facility taking out enemies. It could really just as easily be Super Mario with a gun as an Area 51 game, but nevertheless, it has the name and it’s a fun game to pass the time with.
All in all it’s not a bad selection for those who are intrigued by the popular conspiracy theory subject! Perhaps if Mrs. Clinton becomes president in the U.S. and declines to reveal the secrets of the famous military base we’ll get a brand new game about government cover-ups and alien castaways!