Friday 22 May 2009

The Terminator (MegaDrive)

Most gamers have played or heard about a Sonic or Mario or Halo or whatever game. Mainstream titles... the ones that sell consoles and may have even been the reason you got into gaming. Now mainstream titles are nice and all, but they're boring. Yes the majority of mainstream titles are good games and at the top of their class, but the majority of games in general aren't. This means the big bulk of video gaming is simply thrown aside and forgotten about. Even the extremely poor and obscure titles get more coverage than some of these. Those crazy fanboy arguements about certain consoles having a bigger library of games is made redundant if nobody plays anything but Mario. What games am I talking about?


Games that aren't fantastic but should still be classed as games. There were hundreds back in the late 80s and early 90s. Socket, mentioned in the post before this one is one of them - it's not worth a lot but it's worth something. Games that were shunned at the time for one reason or another, or games that simply didn't sell and that's why nobody's heard of them.

The Terminator was one of 1984's big movies. It had a follow-up, Terminator 2, the signifcantly better movie, another, Terminator 3 which was okay and a new one that's coming out soonish. Needless to say the series has spawned a few licensed video games, but unlike nowadays where games are easily ported to every home console and handheld, this wasn't always the case back in the 8-bit and 16-bit days. Some 16-bit games were just too complicated for 8-bit systems even when watered down, and likewise some 8-bit games were too simple/broken for them to make money off the 16-bit consoles. Back in 1984 there weren't even any consoles deemed good enough to get a Terminator game, so most of these came half a decade late!

The first Terminator game is completely different on just about every major platform of the early 90s. The majority have you play as Kyle Reese in the future fighting the machines, but no game is identical. How is a Terminator game an underdog you ask? Well I suppose it isn't... but do you honestly remember this game much? Is it at the front of your brain when you think "MegaDrive"? Probably not!

This is the MegaDrive version, devloped by Probe Software and published by Virgin. There's inferior Master System and Game Gear ports of this title were made as well, but I'll leave those for another day. Probe have a history of turning movies into half decent games which are then often overlooked and forgotten about. They're also known for the famous MegaDrive ports of Mortal Kombat which actually brought the blood to the living room and subsequently delievered quite a big blow to Nintendo at the time.

As with Socket the game spawns a good soundtrack but its gameplay has a lot to be desired. Graphics are alright though nothing to write home about and no-where near as nice as the Mega CD game that came out later (though they are arguably more colourful). Kyle spends most of his time throwing grenades at things, then spends most of his time shooting people. There are other weapons, but you can't use them in mid-air, so if you're expecting a side-scrolling shooter on the lines of Contra... you may be disappointed.

Generally the game makes very little sense. T-101 terminators are pretty strong - it took an entire movie for two humans to get rid of one of them. Yet a couple of grenades seem to do just fine here. As for Kyle, he's... stronger than T-101s in this game, being able to absorb quite a few shots to the face before being killed. But then things go a bit crazy because as the movie progresses you're on the run from a T-101, which is significantly stronger than those in the future... or your weapons in the past just suck. If they had T-101s like this in the first level all the events of the first movie could have been avoided!

Overall Terminator for the MegaDrive is an odd game. You think it's going to be insanely hard after the first level... but it isn't, and it's short too. So as far as mediocre games go this definately fits the role perfectly. It's bettered by its Mega CD counterpart in many areas, but it batters the NES version into the ground. The SNES game isn't as far behind as the NES game but it's just another one of those cases where Sega takes the gold.

Terminator on the MegaDrive is a solid game. A hundred times better than today's movie licensed games which are usually quick cash-ins. Kudos to Probe Software, who went on to produce loads of other great titles in a similar fashion to this. Shame Probe no longer exists.

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