With the recent release of a new Terminator movie I felt it only appropriate to check out some of the games in the franchise. Many people have played arcade and home adapt ions of T2: Judgment Day, but they may not be familiar with this obscure adaptation of the first Terminator movie, which appeared only on Sega consoles. The game follows the plot of the first movie, with you as Kyle Reese on a time traveling mission to protect Sarah Conner from the T-800.
The game is a standard run-and-gun shooter done in a Contra style. Move left to right, shoot things, get power-ups, standard 16 bit gameplay here. What makes the game stand out is it's above average graphics, great soundtrack, and incredibly ludicrous difficulty. Graphics are really good for a game of this era. Very fluid animation of the main character, highly detailed sprites, digitized explosions, multiple levels of parallax scrolling. The game looks great. Soundtrack has a fast paced, techno-metal feel.
However the game is just too damn hard. The problem lies in too many cheap hits, and weapons that don't do any damage. Two seconds after starting the game you're confronted by one of the Terminator tank robots that takes like 47 bombs to kill. After you enter the underground base you're confronted with an endless stream of T-800s, that while they die easily, are nearly impossible to hit with your default grenade weapon because of the funky angle at which you throw it. Stand and throw and it'll go over their heads. Kneel and throw and it will hit the ceiling and explode. Thus to kill a terminator with the bombs you have to be nearly on top of it, which you can't do without taking cheap hits. Thankfully you get a real gun later on in the level that takes the Arnie clones out in one hit. Still frustrating though.
Later levels have you in the present day (i.e. 1984) trying to find and protect Sarah Conner. Now you're armed with what is quite possibly the world's fastest shotgun, and you'll need it because you're assaulted nearly every step of the way by Cops and Molotov cocktail throwing thugs. For some reason your shotgun will only stun the police while it kills the punk rockers - guess Kyle is quickly switching to rubber bullets and back or something. I suppose they didn't want the Police to be cast as bad guys and actually "die." Arnie shows up in several places as sort of boss, but you can't actually kill him, only defeat him momentarily. Problem with these levels is just the sheer number of punks and cops that come after you is overwhelming, and the A. I. can be real real cheap. For instance, the bomb throwing thugs chuck a nearly continuous stream of cocktails which if you get caught will finish you off in an instant. On top of all this you have ONE life! Die and that's it, game over, no continues, skynet wins.
The game has lots of neat little homages to the movie, for instance at the beginning of the Police station level the Terminator rams through the front office just like in the movie. The game is just too dang hard for my tastes. Maybe if they gave you more than one life it might be a bit more fun. If you can stand the hectic heart-attack style gameplay then the Terminator is for you.
Graphics: Very good, easily the highpoint of the game.
Sound: Better than the average Genesis game, good music and effects.
Gameplay: Swarming enemies surround and kill you in an instant. Easy bosses.
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