|The title screen featuring The Govinator|
|A graphic cut-scene graphic.|
So, with today being day one, here are my first impressions. Presentation-wise, the game is great. Nowadays, when starting up games, you have to go through screen after screen after screen of the logos of companies that were somehow involved in the production of the game. Fortunately this wasn't the case in the nineties, with only the Virgin Games logo holding up the start of the game (and the usual Sega logo), followed by a bit of text explaining how the machines are going to fight the battle to wipe out mankind, not in the future, but tonight (oh no!) and then some credits with the film's logo scrolling by in the background. It's all quite filmatic, but something I'll probably never watch again. After the little semi-dramatic introduction, or if you've got bored and pressed start, the title screen appears with a digitzed image of the Governor of California gracing your screen. You have the choice of starting the game or faffing with the game's options. Options allow you to set the game's difficulty (choices are easy, normal, hard or very hard), change the controls or listen to a few tunes on the sound test. Pretty standard stuff, but I don't suppose it needs any more. I chose to leave the game on normal difficulty.
|The first enemy you'll meet. Looks a bit like a futuristic Dyson|
|Kyle sits to ponder his next move. Or he's having a shit.|
|Defeat this thing to the left.....|
|.... and then pick up the machine gun. Suddenly the game becomes much easier.|
|Kyle lets one off before entering the club.|
|Kyle somehow lost his clothes after going back in time. Either that or he forgot to put some on before he left the future.|
For my second day on The Terminator, I found getting through level one no problem. For some reason, there weren't many bare-chested soldiers to take on, so getting the machine gun and to the end of the level was easy. Again with level two, I managed to get to the nightclub quickly, and found that it was possible to get past the black-clothed man by knocking him down three times. The problem I had yesterday was that it was easy to shoot him until he fell, but jumping over him always resulted in me coming into contact with him somehow and dying. The trick is to knock him down three times. When he is down for the third time, he flickers, which makes him passable. After walking on for a bit more, I bumped into a woman at a table. And this ends the level. I'm amazed at how easy the level is, and can't believe that the game's developers went to the trouble to create a visually attractive nightclub, only to populate it with one, easy-to-pass-when-you-know-how enemy. Perhaps they were wanting to keep to the film's plot, but it just seemed a bit of a waste of potential.
|Ooh ooh! Drama! Intrigue!|
|Lots of action going on here.|
Humph! Got to level three another couple of times and died in the same place. Can't be bothered to play anymore so will be back to it for day three.
|Arnie makes an appearance. Kyle has another shit and a policeman prays.|
Day Three, and I'm back for more movie-based shenanigans with The Terminator. Unfortunately, these shenanigans didn't last too long as I've only gone and completed it. I got to the same point as yesterday, died the first time, and had to replay the game from the start in order to reach the same point and try again. This is actually one of the problems I found with the game. Sometimes you die all too easily, and quite unfairly, when running into certain more powerful enemies, or when you get ganged-up on, or sometimes if you get trapped when taking the wrong turn. This is especially a problem on the last level. As you only have one life and no continues, you have to start again. Part of the reason for this may be due to the game's major flaw - to be revealed in a few short moments - but it is extremely annoying.
On my second attempt today, I reached Arnie in the third stage in the prison, and rather flukily, he wasn't flanked by annoying policemen and prisoners, so once I'd stunned him, it was fairly easy to get past him and to the end of the level, to pick up Sarah Connor again.
|WHY ALL THE CAPITALS? IT'S RUDE TO SHOUT!|
|The Terminator in the form above creeps me out a little|
|Here he is again about to follow Kyle up the stairs.|
It's a huge shame that the game is so easy and short, because, despite its frustrations, it is mostly a fun game to play. Presentation is spot-on, even if you probably won't pay any attention to the cut-scenes when you've seen them once. Graphics are great, the music is pretty good and suited to the game, and the sound effects are meaty and satisfying. The game's levels remain close to the film's plot (which is possibly part of the problem). Controls are ok. Although using the grenades at the start of level one is a pain, using the machine gun when it's found later is fun. The shotgun on levels two, three and four is a bit of a nuisance, as Reece has to take it out of his white coat to fire it and the game's programmers have to show off with a bit of animation to demonstrate this. Realistic it may be but it's not exactly fun to have to wait while somebody is firing at you. Shooting while crouching seems to eliminate this problem. Reece isn't the greatest of jumpers, although this is probably another attempt at reflecting realism rather than making him some sort of super-athelete.
So, after just three days, my week with The Terminator is over. I might do a day four if I decide to come back to it tomorrow, which may prove if the game has replay value, but I doubt that even if this is the case, it's a game that will warrant regular replays as there isn't much substance to it to bring me back over and over again.
|The End. I'll be back. At some point. Don't know when.|
Well, I didn't decide to come back to The Terminator on the Mega Drive for a fourth day. I may do in the future, but my attention was diverted to the Mega-CD version of the game. I discovered that the CD version was completely different to its non-CD counterpart. It's still a run and gun game, but has totally different levels and appears to be quite challenging, but not in a frustrating way. It also must have one of the most stunning soundtracks I've heard in a video game. I only played it for a few minutes (long enough to get into the game's third track, but not off the first level as I died) and I'm mightily impressed by it, so will most definitely be coming back to that, instead of returning to the Mega Drive's attempt.
Despite some frustrating elements, The Terminator on the Mega Drive is a fun little game while it lasts. Unfortunately, it is too little and the fun doesn't last anywhere near as long as it should. I feel that the elements that make it unfair were possibly added simply to prevent the game from being too easy as well as too short (it's still easy, but it's also easy to make mistakes which will send you right back to the beginning). The game is fantastically presented; the graphics, cut-scenes and music capture the feel of the film really well, but there should be more of it. The reviewers of Mean Machines did get the score right, and I know that if I'd have bought this almost 20 years ago, I would have been quite disappointed if I completed it so quickly. What amazes me is that some other magazines at the time rated it 90%+. Now, either they didn't play the game properly before reviewing it, or, as certain magazines were assisting in promoting the game through free videos as a way of increasing their circulation, their scoring was perhaps a little bit influenced by other factors. It's a problem that modern websites/magazines possibly suffer from, fearing that games publishers will boycott them if they dare to rate a game as poor or average. But, it looks like it may be nothing new.
The review published in Mean Machines of The Terminator can be viewed on the rather fantastic Mean Machines Archive site.
Here are some additional screenshots. I thought I'd taken some of the inside of the nightclub but obviously messed up.
|Kyle's about to get a bullet in his nuts.|
|By setting a bomb to detonate here....|
|..... the level goes red and you have 45 seconds to find your way out. You could hang around though because these look like ideal conditions for developing photographs.|
|Some shameless self-promotion going on here.|
|The Los Angeles coppers take phone booth theft very seriously|
|Running along the roof of a building. Obviously.|
|I don't know why, but this screenshot reminds me of Skool Daze & Bak to Skool. It probably represents where Eric ended up next in those games.|
|That's a mighty fine chopper.|
|The Terminator looks like he's visiting the dentist.|
|Squish. Well, that's what's going to happen.|