Games made for topical humor have been around at least as long as the internet, but they used to be free, hastily-made Flash or Shockwave games. Now they can appear on Steam and actually cost money, cashing in on the latest meme or headline. Even more show up on Itch.io, sometimes as the result of game jams. And right now, they're all about aliens.
As we edge closer to the scheduled date of the long-awaited storming of Area 51 (September 20), the Area 51 joke games are coming fast and furious. If you want to get some practice in before the main event, you have nearly 51 to choose from.
If you weren't aware, a Facebook event inviting people to storm Area 51 to find aliens while Naruto-running to dodge bullets drew a couple million interested parties. While it's since transformed into a three-day music festival called Alienstock, there are still a shitload of games about the invasion.
There's no need to storm Area 51—we've been doing it in games for years. Here's how storming Area 51 will go, as predicted by games.
On Steam alone there are six Area 51 games just from this month. One, cleverly called Area 51, lets you control Naruto runners, rock-throwers, and Kyles (they get a buff from energy drinks). Another is called Storm Area 51: Ayy LMAO Edition and can be played solo or co-op and also features controllable Kyles.
In case you were wondering if there was a Hentai Area 51 game, there is, and it's called Hentai Area 51. And Storm Area 51: Cute Alien Girl Edition suggests that the alien being hidden at Area 51 is both cute and a girl.
There's a browser side-scroller called Raid Area 51 on Itch.io with some genuinely good pixel art and animation, though it amusingly spells 'Area' wrong on the splash screen. There's a top-down co-op game called Area 51 Stormers where you work as a team to infiltrate the facility and see what it's hiding. Another called Save The Baby Alien From Area 51 was created for an Area 51 game jam, and lets you choose heroes like an anti-vax kid (who spits diseases on soldiers) and a flat-earther who can break walls thanks to his thick head. See, politics in games are good, actually.
There are also games about defending Area 51 from the swarm of Naruto-runners. On Steam, there's Raid Area 51, released just today, which pits you as the lone guard defending against invaders who blindly rush the main gate on foot or in vehicles. In the same vein, there's Area 51 Defense Squad described as follows by the dev:
"There you were, mining your own business, guarding area fiddy one. You were looking off into the bitch-ass desert when all of the sudden, a fuck-ton of people show up. ? . "We're coming to clap them alien cheeks" they yell, in unison. "Not on my god-damn watch" you say to yourself as you load the last bullet into your trusty yeet-cannon."
There are more Area 51 games, all released in the past couple months. More side-scrollers, more platformers, more top-down action games, more third-person games, more games about Kyles, more games with weird titles (Storm of the 51st?), and one confusingly called Area 51 To The Rescue.
In that one you have to kill the aliens instead of the soldiers or invaders. To add more confusion, when you're killed by aliens the game tells your efforts "brings cat girls back to earth." I guess that's a good thing, if you like cat girls.
And there's still an entire month before the big invasion of Area 51. I'm sure by then we'll have even more games about it.
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Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.