Area 51

From Sega Retro


Area51 title.png

Area 51
System(s): Sega Saturn
Publisher: Midway Home Entertainment (US), GT Interactive Software (EU), SoftBank (JP)
Licensor: Atari Games
Original system(s): Arcade boards
Sound driver: SCSP (1 track)
Peripherals supported: Virtua Gun
Genre: Shooting[1][2]

Number of players: 1-2
Official in-game languages:
  • English
  • Français
  • Deutsch
  • Español
  • Release Date RRP Code
    Sega Saturn
    ¥5,800 (5,974)5,800e[3] T-18613G
    Sega Rating: All Ages
    Sega Saturn
    ESRB: Mature
    Sega Saturn
    BBFC: Suitable for 12 years and over (12)
    Sega Saturn
    USK: 16
    Sega Saturn
    £44.9944.99[7] T-25408H-50
    BBFC: Suitable for 12 years and over (12)
    Sega Saturn
    Sega Saturn
    OFLC: MA15
    Sega Saturn
    Tectoy: 18+
    Non-Sega versions

    Area 51 (エリア51) is a 1995 arcade light-gun game developed by Mesa Logic and released by Atari Games. It was ported to the Sega Saturn in late 1996 by Tantalus Interactive and Perfect Entertainment and published by Midway Games, alongside versions for PlayStation and Windows PCs.


    Soldiers of the Strategic Tactical Advanced Alien Response (S.T.A.A.R.) military team have been deployed to Area 51 to repel an invading force of aliens, known as the Kronn, and alien-created zombies, who are taking over the facility. The team, led by Lieutenant Stephanie Grant and Sergeant Major Marcus Bradley, must infiltrate penetrate Area 51 and activate the nuclear self-destruct sequence.


    Area 51 is an arcade, on-the-rails shooting game using light guns. The player must defeat genetically modified zombie soldiers and aliens without harming allied S.T.A.A.R. team members. The graphics are prerendered, using human actors (similar to Mortal Kombat) for soldiers, and full-motion video to simulate moving through the world. The game supports two-player cooperative play. The Arcade mode plays through all the stages of the original arcade game. There is also a Practice mode where players can practice shooting in a room with endlessly spawning enemies; players do not take any damage from enemies in Practice mode.

    Players can use control pads or Virtua Guns. The game can also be played in "Cowboy Mode," where a single player uses two guns. Using a control pad, the D-Pad moves the crosshair, C shoots, and B reloads. Players start the game with semi-automatic pistols that hold 8 rounds each. Players are equipped with a limited supply of grenades, which are thrown with A. Grenades are not aimed but attack every enemy on screen. Using a light gun, pulling the trigger while the gun is pointed at the screen shoots while pulling the trigger while aiming away from the screen reloads. Grenades are thrown by shooting the grenade icon on-screen.

    The game contains numerous hidden rooms. By shooting certain objects in the correct sequence, players can unlock shooting exercises, weapon stashes, and bonus items. Other backdoors allow players to warp ahead to later stages instead of following the game's otherwise linear path.

    Players have a limited amount of lives, depicted by crosses on the bottom of the screen. When an enemy appears, players have a limited amount of time to shoot the enemy before taking damage from it and losing a life. Shooting a fellow S.T.A.A.R. member also costs a life. Players lose their weapon upgrades when they lose a life. The game ends if the player runs out of lives but can be continued if the player has a credit remaining.

    There are five selectable difficulty levels (Novice, Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert). Players can also set the starting number of lives and credits in the options prior to starting the game. Players can also enable looping, where the game starts over from the beginning when completed.


    Area 51, Items, Power Up.png

    Power Up
    When equipped with the starting pistol, shooting a Power Up equips players with either a shotgun or a machine gun. Shooting a Power Up when already holding a shotgun equips an automatic shotgun. Shotguns allow a greater field of error for targeting an enemy but only start with 5 rounds. Machine guns fire quickly and start with 10 rounds. Both the machine gun and automatic shotgun allow the player to keep the trigger pressed down to unleash rounds.

    Area 51, Items, Ammo Crate.png

    Ammo Crate
    Ammo crates can be shot open and can contain extra grenades (each player can hold up to 9 grenades at a time) or extended ammo clips that allow the player to hold more rounds at once (10 for the shotguns or 19 for the machine gun).

    Area 51, Items, Barrel.png

    Explosive barrels can be shot to damage nearby enemies.


    Area 51, Stage 1-1.png

    Area 51, Stage 1-2.png

    Area 51, Stage 1-3.png

    • Area 51, Stage 1-1.png

    • Area 51, Stage 1-2.png

    • Area 51, Stage 1-3.png

    Stage 1

    Area 51, Stage 2-1.png

    Area 51, Stage 2-2.png

    Area 51, Stage 2-3.png

    • Area 51, Stage 2-1.png

    • Area 51, Stage 2-2.png

    • Area 51, Stage 2-3.png

    Stage 2

    Area 51, Stage 3-1.png

    Area 51, Stage 3-2.png

    Area 51, Stage 3-3.png

    • Area 51, Stage 3-1.png

    • Area 51, Stage 3-2.png

    • Area 51, Stage 3-3.png

    Stage 3

    Area 51, Stage 4-1.png

    Area 51, Stage 4-2.png

    Area 51, Stage 4-3.png

    • Area 51, Stage 4-1.png

    • Area 51, Stage 4-2.png

    • Area 51, Stage 4-3.png

    Stage 4

    Area 51, Stage 5-1.png

    Area 51, Stage 5-2.png

    Area 51, Stage 5-3.png

    • Area 51, Stage 5-1.png

    • Area 51, Stage 5-2.png

    • Area 51, Stage 5-3.png

    Stage 5

    Area 51, Stage 6-1.png

    Area 51, Stage 6-2.png

    Area 51, Stage 6-3.png

    • Area 51, Stage 6-1.png

    • Area 51, Stage 6-2.png

    • Area 51, Stage 6-3.png

    Stage 6

    Area 51, Stage 7-1.png

    Area 51, Stage 7-2.png

    Area 51, Stage 7-3.png

    • Area 51, Stage 7-1.png

    • Area 51, Stage 7-2.png

    • Area 51, Stage 7-3.png

    Stage 7

    Area 51, Stage 8-1.png

    Area 51, Stage 8-2.png

    • Area 51, Stage 8-1.png

    • Area 51, Stage 8-2.png

    Stage 8
    Players must destroy the alien craft before it escapes for the good ending.



    Area 51 was followed by Maximum Force, produced by the same team at Mesa Logic, but with an entirely different setting. An arcade-exclusive sequel called Area 51: Site 4 was released in 1998.


    The Saturn version of Area 51 is relatively close to its arcade counterpart, but chooses to present itself with an added border (a feature that remains through the entire experience and is absent from other versions). The resulting smaller field of view means that all 2D graphics and full-motion video clips are rendered at a lower resolution than their arcade (and PlayStation) counterparts.

    The nature of disc-based media means transitions between scenes have a slight delay as the game loads in new data. This is particularly noticeable in the attract sequence.

    Like Virtua Cop, Tiger also produced a handheld version of Area 51 as a part of their Laser Games series of miniature light-gun games. The folding gun included with this version is reliant on infrared technology.

    Production credits

    Midway Home Entertainment Team
    • Producer: Ken Humphries
    • Test Supervisor: Mike Kruse
    • Lead Tester: Rob Reininger
    • Testers: Todd Papy, Chris Thornton, Jesse Meza, Pablo Buitrago & Randy Slafsky
    • Print & Production: Debbie Austin, Shawn Murphy, Dave Young & Jon Mongelluzzo
    • Special Thanks: Brian Fritts, Bill Hindorff, Howard Lehr. Tona Hess & Kirby Fong (GT Interactive)
    Coin Op Team
    • Producer: Rob Rowe
    • Programmer: Charlie Grisafi
    • Game Design: Mike Hally
    • Art & Design: Steve Caterson
    • Video Production: Brent Englund
    • Lead Technician: Darrell Robinson
    • Stop-Motion Animator: Jody Burgess
    • Product Manager: Derryl DePriest
    • Audio & Music: Jeanne Parson & Michael Stein
    • Hardware Engineer: Brian McKee
    Mesa Logic
    • Concept & Game Design: Robert Weatherby
    • 3D Animators: James Mestemaker, Guy Fumagalli, Hector Silva & James Webb
    Tantalus Entertainment
    • Programmer: Julian Crooke
    • Artist: Alun Bjorksten
    • Executive Producer: Arthur Kakouris
    • Support Programmer: Shane Stevens
    • Quality Assurance: John Szoke
    • Technical Director: Andrew Bailey
    Perfect Entertainment
    • Producer: Colin Fuidge
    • Quality Assurance: Matt Stamps
    US manual
    Error creating thumbnail: /bin/bash: line 1: /usr/bin/gs: Permission denied convert: no decode delegate for this image format `' @ error/constitute.c/ReadImage/587. convert: no images defined `/home/sonicret/domains/' @ error/convert.c/ConvertImageCommand/3229.

    Magazine articles

    Main article: Area 51/Magazine articles.

    Promotional material

    Main article: Area 51/Promotional material.


    Physical scans

    Sega Retro Average 
    Publication Score Source
    {{{{{icon}}}|L}} Division by zero.
    Based on
    0 review
    Sega Retro Average 
    Publication Version Score
    Ação Games (BR)
    Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) NTSC-U
    Freak (IL)
    Gambler (PL)
    GamePro (US) NTSC-U
    Intelligent Gamer (US)
    Mean Machines Sega (UK) PAL
    Playmag (FR) PAL
    Saturn Fan (JP) NTSC-J
    Saturn Fan (JP) NTSC-J
    Saturn Power (UK) PAL
    Secret Service (PL)
    Sega Magazin (DE)
    Sega Power (GR)
    Sega Saturn Magazine (UK) PAL
    Sega Saturn Magazine (JP) NTSC-J
    Sega Saturn Magazine (JP) NTSC-J
    Ultra Game Players (US)
    Sega Saturn
    Based on
    19 reviews

    Area 51

    Saturn, JP
    Area51 Saturn JP Box Back.jpgArea51 Saturn JP Box Front.jpg
    Area 51 (エリア51) Saturn JP Spinecard.png
    Area51 Saturn JP Disc.jpg
    Saturn, US
    Area51 Saturn US Box Back.jpgArea51 Saturn US Box Front.jpg
    Area51 Saturn US Disc.jpg
    Area51 sat us manual.pdf
    Area51 Saturn US RegCard.pdf
    Reg Card
    Saturn, EU
    Area51 Saturn EU Box.jpg
    Area51 Saturn EU Disc.jpg
    Saturn, AU
    Area51 Saturn AU back.jpgNospine.pngArea51 Saturn AU cover.jpg
    Area51 Saturn EU Disc.jpg
    Saturn, BR
    Area51 Saturn BR Box Front.jpg

    Technical information

    Main article: Area 51/Technical information.

    ROM dump status

    System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
    Sega Saturn
    384,102,768 CD-ROM (EU) T-25408H-50 V1.000
    Sega Saturn
    384,102,768 1996-12-04 CD-ROM (JP) T-18613G V1.000
    Sega Saturn
    385,942,032 CD-ROM (US) T-9705H V1.000
    Sega Saturn
    1996-06-19 CD-R Page
    Sega Saturn
    1996-11-06 CD-R Page


    1. File:Area51 Saturn JP Box Back.jpg
    2. 2.0 2.1 (Wayback Machine: 2019-07-28 12:30)
    3. Sega Saturn Magazine, "1996-22 (1996-12-27)" (JP; 1996-12-13), page 66
    4. (Wayback Machine: 1996-12-15 06:01)
    5. Computer Trade Weekly, "" (UK; 1997-03-03), page 29
    6. Computer & Video Games, "April 1997" (UK; 1997-03-12), page 48
    7. 7.0 7.1 Mean Machines Sega, "February 1997" (UK; 1997-01-xx), page 76
    8. File:Area51 sat us manual.pdf, page 22
    9. Ação Games, "Março 1997" (BR; 1997-xx-xx), page 8
    10. Electronic Gaming Monthly, "February 1997" (US; 199x-xx-xx), page 58
    11. Freak, "2/97" (IL; 1997-xx-xx), page 1
    12. Gambler, "9/1997" (PL; 1997-xx-xx), page 1
    13. GamePro, "February 1997" (US; 1997-xx-xx), page 82
    14. Intelligent Gamer, "January 1997" (US; 1996-xx-xx), page 73
    15. MAN!AC, "02/97" (DE; 1997-01-08), page 80
    16. Playmag, "Mai 1997" (FR; 1997-0x-xx), page 116
    17. Saturn Fan, "1997 No. 3" (JP; 1997-01-31), page 177
    18. Saturn Fan, "1997 No. 6" (JP; 1997-03-14), page 110
    19. Saturn Power, "July 1997" (UK; 1997-05-28), page 75
    20. Secret Service, "Kwiecień 1997" (PL; 1997-xx-xx), page 32
    21. Sega Magazin, "März 1997" (DE; 1997-02-12), page 81
    22. Sega Power, "Októmvrios-Noemvrios 1997" (GR; 1997-xx-xx), page 61
    23. Sega Saturn Magazine, "April 1997" (UK; 1997-03-15), page 62
    24. Sega Saturn Magazine, "1997-03 (1997-02-14)" (JP; 1997-01-31), page 154
    25. Sega Saturn Magazine, "Readers rating final data" (JP; 2000-03), page 13
    26. Ultra Game Players, "February 1997" (US; 1997-01-28), page 74

    Area 51

    Area51 title.png

    Main page | Comparisons | Hidden content | Development | Magazine articles | Reception | Promotional material

    Sega Saturn
    Prototypes: 1996-06-19 | 11-06