Tuesday, February 20, 2024

The Terminator (Sega Genesis, 1992)


Wait hold on. There's another good game based on the first movie? And somehow I didn't know about this until 2024 when it got ranked on a "good Terminator games" list.

It isn't the Sega CD game, but this appears to be a respectable earlier attempt at a Terminator video game by a completely different developer. We've seen a lot of Terminator games go very badly, so any time I find out about a decent one I have to check it out.

Future Editor's Note: This game isn't actually good. It's quite bad. A respectable attempt, but a bad respectable attempt. Did I mention it's bad? The good news is, it's only like 15 minutes long.

We get a pretty solid intro with a couple of still shots from the Future War. They're blink-and-you-miss-them, and I missed them.

The game then drops you (as Kyle Reese) on the battlefield in front of some sort of bomb. I'll never get why all the Terminator video games in this era had to get all cute and complicated with their first levels. Just let me jump and shoot!

In any case, you have to collect 6 of these bombs to make it through the level, and plant them with the A button (the one that isn't jump or shoot). You can actually camp this one bomb until it respawns and get enough that way.

Kyle doesn't start with any kind of gun, but he does have unlimited grenades to throw. That's super weird, but it's kind of fun how they fly in an arc. He is basically a Hammer Bro. First enemy you fight is a ground HK, usually a boss in these games, and winning is a matter of just standing and banging it out with grenades before it kills you.

After that, a flying HK! It...drops parachuting bombs, rather than shooting lasers.

...parachuting bombs? This is the least-fearsome Hunter-Killer ever.

Get past those things and you have to contend with terminators inside the Skynet base. This level is like, in reverse. The bosses are at the beginning and then you run right-to-left fighting regular enemies.

The base is full of these metal walls that you have to use the dynamite bombs to breach, which is why you need six of them. If you don't get enough drops (and I didn't without camping them), you're kinda effed.

Inside the Skynet base is this weird miniboss. What is that thing? Some kind of Wheelchair HK?

The weirdest thing is that this miniboss serves no purpose and lurks in a dead end. No reason to fight it and most players probably won't even see it. Why not put it at the end of the level?

Speaking of the end of the level... get there and this Skynet turret blasts you to smithereens instantly. Fantastic!

This, like almost all the other Terminator games in this era, is one of those "you have one life for the entire game" games.

Whatta shitload of fuck. Die once and it's all the way back to the beginning. Which isn't the worst thing since the game is 15 minutes long, but still, super annoying. Who thought it was a good idea to give the player one life for an entire game? Even the original Super Mario Bros didn't make that mistake, and they basically had to figure it out as they went along. These games were years later.

What you have to do is get down to this fire pillar thing and destroy it with some dynamite to disable the turret upstairs, then you get a countdown clock to run up there and run past it to the exit before the whole place goes up.

The countdown clock is extremely unforgiving and basically gives you about 5 more seconds than you need if you do a perfect beeline straight to where you need to go. So make ANY mistakes, go the wrong way, spend too much time on an enemy, and boom.

Next up, 1984. Of course, this is somehow tougher than the Future War, as is Terminator Game Tradition. Good news, at least this game has the decency to refill your life meter between levels! Some of them don't (while still making you get through the game on one life...unreal)

The main adversaries in 1984 are cops because they're all immortal. You can kneecap them but they heal up in seconds and resume attacking. So basically they're like Dry Bones. They also attack in these groups, making it really difficult to run past them while they're down.

A police chopper swoops in to accost Kyle! These cops are serious about him stealing that guy's pants!

...wait a minute, why is there a billboard of the movie?

After lots and lots of jumping across rooftops (this section is like half the game), I arrive at...

...a dead end! Have I mentioned how much this game likes dead ends? They're all over the place.

Looking around a bit more, I find...

...the entrance to Tech Noir, which has like, nobody dancing and the music is all wrong. At least they got the name of the place right and it isn't "Tech Nior" or something.

In here you have to knock the Terminator off his feet and run past him. The problem is you still get hit for a huge amount of damage when you try to run past him when he's down. Hell, even jumping over his prone corpse doesn't work, you get hit and knocked back. After a minute or so I realized you could use that little step there to jump over him. So basically you gotta knock him down right by that step, then jump off of it to clear him. All of this to avoid tripping over a corpse!

Next, the Terminator and his 12-gauge shotgun takes on 30 cops. At least, in the movie.

In the game they're all working together to stomp Kyle Reese for some reason. They're REALLY serious about him stealing those pants!

The police station is overrun with molotov-throwing punks, and the funniest part is the cops aren't even trying to stop them either. So we have insane punks, the Terminator, and the cops all on the same side hunting Kyle.

Next is another fight with the Terminator, and this time I don't have any steps to launch off of. The hell do I do?

I tried using this ladder to get around him. Can't jump off of it, but you can slide down at the right time to get knocked back in the correct direction, then sprint away. That one hit knocks off so much life that the regular enemies on the way out will finish you off, though.

Turns out the right way to do this is to knock him down a few times, and every few knockdowns he'll lay there and blink, during which time you can run through the corpse without getting hit. You only have a second to do it so it has to be planned. What a bizarre game.

Time for the final level, mercifully. This one is the computer factory, with the endoskeleton stalking you. Cool idea for a level, but with this game's penchant for dead ends and not being able to jump over anything, my expectations are very low.

This is actually easier than the other levels because when you blast the endo enough times, he flies off the screen. He reappears quickly, but at least this way you can actually move through the level.

Knock him off the screen five times and he returns as just a torso, clawing along the floor. At this point he's no longer vulnerable to your shots, so you basically HAVE to run. It's possible to leap over him but it's like a 50/50 proposition and that's too much of a risk at this stage.

Get to the end and the half-endo gets crushed in the hydraulic press (by Kyle... Sarah is nowhere to be found). Now that's comedy!

Kyle is somehow dead anyway, even though he was totally fine at the end there. He was even at full health.


There's a SNES version of this game from about the same time, and it's terrible too. Except you shoot Stone Cold Steve Austins for half the game, that's hilarious. The big problem with this one was that the stages just went ON AND ON. Few people even got past the first stage, including me.

Anyway, the Genesis version... terrible game. I can't believe folks were saying it was one of the good Terminator games. There's nothing good here. It's better than the T1/T2 games on the NES/SNES at least, but that's about it. At least it's pretty tolerable with save states to avoid having to start over, and it legit took about 20 minutes. Even still, if one wants a retro Terminator game, stick with the Sega CD version.

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