The Terminator on the Sega MegaDrive was a licensed action game developed by Probe and published (at least here in the UK) by Virgin Games.
Now, lets be honest. Its a typical suggestion that licensed games are nothing but poor cash-in attempts. There’s a sordid history of abysmal licensed games but the 16-Bit era gave us some of the finest...But is this one of them?
Back in the day, the Virgin Games logo was somewhat a quality seal of its own. Unlike LJN on the NES, Virgin on the MegaDrive published some of the most beloved games of the generation. We're talking those Disney adaptations like Aladdin, we're talking the utterly brutal and amazing RoboCop Vs. Terminator (hello Arnie!) - and if you're heading in first impressions stylee with this particular game, the developer is the very same who gave the world the likes of Mortal Kombat (with blood!) and later on the likes of solid enough multiplat titles such as the Die Hard Trilogy during the 32-Bit era.
Take into consideration the lead programmer of this particular title was the, at the time; great David Perry. The man behind Earthworm Jim and other such system stand-outs... But if your hopes are now high, its probably time for you to start lowering those expectations of yours. Unfortunately speaking. While The Terminator by James Cameron remains a staple of the sleazy sci-fi action flicks of the 1980's, The Terminator video game on MegaDrive stands as a decidedly average and at-most forgettable affair. For shame, Probe/Virgin!
Lets start with the good points. The game fires up and you're treated to the undeniably awesome scrolling title text while a 16-Bit rendition of the theme plays, before you hit start and get treated to Arnie's mug smack bang centred on the screen. Menu gives you choices you'd expect, such as Start or Options. Yeah, not much else to say there really. When you enter the game itself you're given static cut-scene images with text explaining the plot to tie together the loose levels of the game itself. Its not exactly a chore to read, but its nothing too special. Yet I'll commend them on trying, for sure.
Despite the obvious ludicrousness of enemy choices (barring first level in the future and the finale in the factory), it does well enough retell the story of the film. Its not so disconnected to the point where it doesn't feel like a Terminator game, nor does the infinite ammo semi-automatic shotgun honestly detract. You wanna blow stuff up in an action game, so why not just run n gun the heck outta things, eh?
But that is a fatal flaw. It literally is just run and gun. Or bomb. Seriously. From the what feels like a million hits it takes to destroy the opening sprite on the first screen, to the infinitely spawning and often screen cluttering amount of enemies once you get underground (all level one here), the simplicity immediately gets tiring instead of being particularly fun. There’s obviously a fine line in the genre and The Terminator just slightly misses that mark. There’s nothing new, nothing fresh...nothing unique. Outside the license itself, that is.
Graphically speaking, if you take out the fact Reese's trench-coat is white (woah, huh?) everything else looks decent enough. Its clear who your character is and the baddies are obviously present. Mainly as they're everything on the screen that moves, alas; it look's good for the period, or at least on par. The backgrounds and locations are the nicest graphical elements in the game as they look down right pretty, while perfectly matching the vibe of the film they're covering. I particularly dig the club at the end of the second level.
Musically its very nice. The sound effects are fairly stock, but the soundtrack is mostly funky techno-like beats that match well with the action on screen. I have no doubt you'll be humming the OST tunes after a play-through or two. Catchy as all hell, great stuff. No complaints here.
Once you get the hang of how many shots an enemy takes and where best to stand for your ongoing assault on the 1980's landscape like some sort of futuristic madman flooding the streets with the blood of dead cops and street thugs (yes), it should take you no time at all. Its not so much cheap deaths, than unforgiving respawning enemies who want your head on a pike (seemingly oblivious of a robotic menace in leathers). Cops'll stay down for seconds before miraculously coming back to life and blasting back from the dead at you. Its crazy. I also couldn't honestly tell much of a difference between difficulty levels, either - so stick with the standard settings. Besides the epic enemy count, you only get one life and no continues. However, you can refill and max out your energy bar by causing X amount of chaos. And murder. Little bottles appear acting as health from fallen bad guys, y'see. Logic!
Can't give much cause of concern to the default button-mapping or controls in general, either. Its easy enough to pick up and play and if it takes you longer than a second to get where you're at with it, something’s up. Its your end. You craze.
All in all, the most major letdown is just how short the game is. Roughly four levels and you're done. Blow up stuff in the future, blow up stuff in the past, blow up stuff in the police station, crush the Terminator in a factory. The end. Very blunt and unimaginative, to be honest. Get the style of play down and it shouldn't take you but 20 or so minutes to blast process your way through this one. Disappointing, really. That said, it makes you wonder how tired you'd get of the formulaic design if it went on any longer, though.
So, does The Terminator hold up? Is it good or bad? Whets the crux?
Well, while as uninspired and underwhelming as it may be, it certainly isn't the worst Terminator game you could get your hands-on, but its a far cry from a franchise best. A decent effort, but you'd be better off with RoboCop Vs. Terminator (a better game in all categories), or maybe try out The Terminator on MegaCD (much more depth, better graphics and a killer soundtrack). Its not a bad game, but I’m hard pressed to actually call it good, either.
Sorry Perry, not this time.
Verdict:- A decidedly average licensed game. About as standard an action title that you can get, that while does well enough with the source material, isn't that good on its own merit to warrant any higher praise.
Better off with a better Terminator title, as Virgin/Probe do little to deserve your time or money here. Go play something more fitting. Coz this one wont have you coming back for more post-completion.
Second Opinion:- This game fails but does so with some nice graphics and some lovely soundtracks however it's all eye candy.
Transbot requires more than an hour's worth of fun to consider a good game a good game. Transbot is not amused, This game can die! How did Virgin mess this up so badly? Was it a bet to make this suck so very hard?
Transbot Scores:- 3 out of 10