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The gameplay of the various Alien3 video games varies from platform to platform. The version on the Nintendo Entertainment System is similar to Probe Software's adaptations of the film on other systems, and while it uses the same overall game concept as the Sega and Commodore versions, the NES title has unique levels.
The player controls Ellen Ripley through a number of platform levels. She must not only defend herself against hordes of Xenomorphs and find the exit, but also save a number of prisoners, all within a tight time limit of only minutes per level. Although based on Alien3, the game borrows more from the preceding movie Aliens, including weapons such as the Pulse Rifle, flamethrower and grenade launcher, as well as hand grenades. Ammo for weapons is limited and must be collected in the levels. The Pulse Rifle is prone to overheating, so should only be fired in short bursts.
Next to health packs, Ripley can also find a radar. The radar indicates both moving Xenomorphs as well as the locations of prisoners. After every two levels, a guardian level follows, in which an especially tough alien must be defeated to continue.