The Terminator (Genesis)

The Terminator (Genesis)
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Game Name: The Terminator
Platforms: Genesis/Mega Drive
Publisher(s): Virgin Games
Developer(s): Probe Software
Genre(s): Platform
Release Date: 1992

Hey remember that movie with Schwarzenegger? You know, the one where he’s unstoppable and kills a lot of people? Oh… oh right, well this is that movie where he’s a robot. Yeah that’s the one. Well, somebody made a game out of it.

I’m torn on how to start this review, for reasons you’ll understand shortly. Okay, how about this: I beat this game in ten minutes. There, I said it. Make no mistake, that’s not good for me, it’s bad for this game.

Essentially, sometime in 1992 when the T2 craze was high, someone at Virgin (trying to stick their record-label nose where it doesn’t belong) decided it was time to milk more cash off said craze by making a game for the original film. Trouble is, T2 came out a year before, so the “craze” could be over before anyone knew what happened. Thus, in a mad rush they collected their lead programmer, fed him the original Terminator video and lots of Ex-Lax, and he sprayed the final product out of his ass two days later.

This version has only four short levels. One, two, three, four. That’s it. As I have already mentioned, I beat this game in ten minutes. Though it does faithfully follow the film’s romp through LA, compare this one to the Sega CD version and try and tell me the Genesis’ wasn’t rushed.

They fudge a bit on the first level, in which you infiltrate Skynet to send yourself back in time after the Terminator – not in the film, but that’s okay. As Kyle “Hicks” Reece, you take on the entire complex with a 3-pack of bombs and an endless supply of grenades. Badass indeed, but rather ridiculous. Fear not though, after you take out a couple of knockoff machines based poorly off of what was really in the film (hey, why not actually use the designs from the film?), you score yourself a machine gun with infinite ammo. You then must fight an endless supply of Arnolds, but again, don’t worry – the machine gun blows them up in 1/3 of a second of gunfire. You might have a little trouble when you’re only defense is your softball arm, but that machine gun makes the rest of the level a cakewalk. Plant a bomb at the end, run through the now emergency-lit version of the level, dive into the time machine, and you’re done.

I must give them credit for the graphics here, as the red emergency lights are quite groovy. Sadly, this game is not Red Emergency Light Commando. The rest of the graphics are similarly shiny (though not consistently, as buildings and objects in the present look like cardboard art) and resemble little to nothing of the film’s style. Reece also runs with the gait and animation of an overweight 50 year old man.

Reece saves the future by shooting every passing cop in the nuts.

So you blow up Skynet and appear in the present where you must run along the streets or rooftops and avoid The Po-diggity-o-leece. You have your shotgun-under-the-trenchcoat disguise, as in the film, however it is nothing of a disguise at all here. Every cop opens fire on sight, mixed with mohawk-sporting street thugs chucking firebombs. Upon pressing the fire button, you must wait a second to whip your shotgun from under the coat before shooting.

It would be a nice touch if it actually worked as a disguise, but it just gets in the way when everyone is ganging up on you. If you dare move while trying to fire, the animations get confused, and your shotgun reappears under your coat as you take a step forward, then try to pull it out again. The result: you neither move nor shoot. I need not tell you this is annoying. This is also the only weapon you’ll ever have in the present levels with no possibilities of upgrading. It at least fires as fast as you can press the button, and will also be a fair match against the only two foes you ever encounter (the aforementioned cops and gangbangers).

You can kill gang members, but you can only stun cops briefly before they get back up and resume shooting. So the next three levels are spent rapidly hammering the fire button, then trying to flee before the cops get back up. Add to this the fact that enemies you can’t even see can shoot or bomb you from off screen with no problem. The most amazing part of all of this is that it is NOT difficult, simply annoying. Enemies freely drop health powerups like they were fucking health piñatas, and fall reasonably quickly to your wall of lead, it’s just that having them snap back up like nothing happened gets repetitive, annoying, and you’re never rewarded for your trouble.

Okay, okay, we want Ahh-nold, right? Well he makes three appearances in the game. One is in a simple fight in a bar at the end of the second level. There’s a similar rumble in the middle of the next level (Police Station), and he’s the only foe throughout the short final level.

With the exception of the final battle, Arnold consists of a reasonably cool looking Terminator character (much better than Reece) with shiny black leather biker gear and a short range automatic rifle. To defeat him, you pound him with shotgun blasts, during which he is stunned and does not return fire, until he falls three times. On the third fall, he blinks while on the ground and you can now run past him. Too damn easy. The final battle involves shooting a poorly drawn metal skeleton a few times until it springs off the screen, only to reappear as an obvious clone at the top of the next platform or on the other side of the screen. You must dodge and blast him/them until the end of the level, where a metal press waits. Run through press, Terminator follows, Terminator terminated, game over. That’s it. Your title villain is nothing more than a “leetle-gurly-man.”

In short this is a game of average graphics, poor control, horrible gameplay and a pretty nauseating soundtrack that, again, doesn’t seem inspired by the movie at all. This is a rushed job, plain and simple. Much like Total Recall, this is a mere shadow of the movie itself, and even without the movie connections it’s still just a bad game.

The Good

Man those red lights look nifty.

The Bad

Four levels, and they’re not even that great.

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