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“ I'm still kicking myself. ”

Baron Samedi

Old school impaled

Old school impaled (gaming wise, that is)

Wed 8 Dec 2004 | 18h50 GMT+1

After searching for some gaming info today, we found a cool written review of an old-school game: The Terminator for the Genesis console.

Though we've never played it ourselfs on this particular console, we thought the review hit the mark on several levels of other older games we've got laying around. And its a nice 'read' also ;).

- Platform: Genesis
- Developer: Probe
- Publisher: Virgin
- Reviewed By: "BaronSamedi"

Gameplay: [5] Graphics: [4] Audio: [1] Replay: [1] Overall: [2.3]

The Terminator for Genesis gaming console

There was once a point in my life where I had to make a choice: A Terminator game cartridge for the Genesis or the Atliens CD from the up-and-coming hip hop duo Outkast? What this really was to me was a kind of test. Did my music, which I had just gotten into at the time, mean more to me than my video games, which I had been playing since the tender age of six? Well, I love music. Outkast continues to be one of my favourite hip hop acts. But I'm a gamer for LIFE. I took the trade.

I'm still kicking myself.

That was when I learned that good music is never worth a bad video game. When my "friend's" CD was later stolen, it was tough for me to feel any sympathy. Oh, I replaced the stolen CD with another from my collection - Mr. Smith, from LL Cool J - but I had to talk him down from a lofty bargaining position in order to do it. And even then, he was demanding the new CD from A Tribe Called Quest. Honestly, though, he was lucky to walk away with anything. The Terminator was not worth Atliens, or Mr. Smith, or Beats, Rhymes, and Life. The Terminator isn't worth a lousy artist like Master P either. Or even Brittany Spears. Hell, The Terminator isn't even worth 50 cents - and I don't mean the bad hip hop artist, I mean the 50 cent price of the bullet shells used in the ever-infamous attempt to gun the bad hip hop artist down.

I can't fault anyone who was suckered into paying full price for this piece of junk. It was made by Virgin Interactive, after all - the very same Virgin Interactive responsible for two of the best movie adaptations (The Lion King and The Jungle Book) ever made into games, and two popular underground titles (Chuck Rock and Cool Spot). Do remember though, Virgin is an empirical company with a foot in just about every form of entertainment you could ever imagine. Hell, its founder is even getting his own reality TV series as of this writing. With them doing so much, it would be only natural that the occasional clunker could be expected. Perhaps the talent Richard Branson picked to run his company's video game division was as inexperienced as the company name would imply when The Terminator was produced. But in the video game world, inexperience is no excuse for junk. There's no "It was awesome for a first-timer!" If the game isn't playable, it sucks.

If you picked up the impression from the last paragraph that The Terminator really is good for a first-timer, that's not true either. I don't actually know how experienced Virgin was when they produced it. Even if I did, The Terminator is NOT good for a first-timer. It's not even good for a first-time programming student. It's just plain awful. I don't say what I'm about to say very often, because every bad game seems like the worst when you first play it. After awhile, the bad games have a habit of just lumping together, getting to a point where you can't tell one bad game from another. Here it goes anyway: The Terminator is quite possibly the worst game I have ever played in my almost-lifelong gaming career.

My current employer always accentuates the positive in everything, and encourages all her employees to do the same. Since I've worked there, I've learned to do this. Which is why Anna will be horribly disappointed if she ever reads this review. The Terminator itself is completely positive-free, and the only positivism which will be seen in the remainder of this review will come from you, the reader, knowing that I had a lot of fun writing it!

Those who don't already know the story of The Terminator... Seek a life. You probably know it if you're reading this, but if you don't, I'll tell the nutshell version: In 1997, people relied too much on their machines. So we made them bigger and more intelligent. Long story short, the extra intelligence backfired when the machines became self-aware and decided they were better off without humans. One nuclear holocaust later and they would have been in business - that is if they had expected a man named John Connor. John rallied the humans, beat the machines, and has his mother and himself marked for death in the past because of it. The machines still want the planet after the humans win it back, so they send a killer robot back in time to kill John's mother, Sarah, before she can give birth to John. I'll let you rent the movie to find out all the little quirks and intricacies telling why this makes sense.

Ditto the game. You take control of Kyle Reese, the soldier John sent back to keep an eye on his mother. Or at least you're supposed to control Reese. Honestly, the way this guy works makes the term "control" a bit loose for this game. Kyle starts the game with grenades, which require a throwing motion reminiscent of what Curt Schilling does whenever he takes the mound. This means the motion is sllloooooowwwww. This is bad because while Kyle is winding up for the release, he could very well get shot up. But what Curt Schilling lacks in speed while throwing pitches, he makes up for with his strength, accuracy, and ability to confuse opposing batters. You can't say the same for Kyle Reese, because his grenades not only arc, but they would land several feet away from the strike zone in a baseball game. Fear not, though, because the game provides you with a sawed-off shotgun after the first level, which becomes your weapon throughout the rest of the game. This solves the arc dilemma, but does absolutely nothing for the attack speed. You have to press the attack button to pull the gun out before you fire it, and once you move a fraction of an inch, it goes right back into Kyle's jacket. Now, most video games of the action persuasion allow the player to leap into the air to soar over problematic obstacles or enemies. The Terminator does have a jump button, but glance at that last sentence again. The words "leap" and "soar" tend to evoke images of athletes flying majestically through the air to gain that loose ball or that extra yard. Kyle, again, is different. Not only does he take a half second to lift off, he does so only to perform a vertical which could be outdone by a 600-pound man wearing cement shoes.

Get this: In The Terminator, you can't kill any of your foes beyond the first level. So what kind of foes must these supernatural beings of invincible power be? Um.... Cops. Yes, you read that right: Cops. Police officers. The pigs, the fuzz, the boys in blue. Not some ten-foot-tall robot variety, mind you, but regular, everyday, run of the mill flesh, blood, and bone police officers. Instead of killing them, you pump their guts full of massive amounts of lead only so they can kneel down in the standard arrest position and blink for three seconds while you creep on by - only to have them get right back up and fire at you some more. This causes another kind of control problem if you've got a big row of officers in front of you: Shoot up the front guy, then you proceed shooting the guys behind him until the guy you first shot recuperates and advances on you again. The Terminator is the very same way once you encounter him: Blast him until he blinks, run on by. This is a somewhat ironic slap in the face to the movie, since the Terminator slaughtered a handful of officers quite easily in the movie. It's also an ironic slap in the face to the robots in the first level, which can't endure bullets from the machine gun you pick up early on (don't get excited; it's exclusive to the first level).

Speaking of the first level, it actually offers a semi-worthwhile playing experience. The object is to take a bomb into Skynet, set it off, and get out before it explodes. There are challenging enemies and different routes to travel down. There just aren't enough of the tough enemies, and all the routes meet dead ends. The complaints outweigh the level's good points and drag down the playing experience. From there, things are dull, Dull, DULL. Quick romps through the city and the police station are all that exists before the final showdown in the factory. The city and police station levels are completely straightforward and incredibly short. The factory has a real choice of routes to the end, but no enemies other than the Terminator - and you spend the level running from his top half. There is no variety in enemies, and there are no secret routes or passages. About the only thing the level designers got right is excluding situations in which the jump button would have to be used.

I don't mind short, simple video games. In fact, I really love shooting games. Shooting games often have simplistic levels. But most shooting games also have a large number of helpful items and weapons to collect. The Terminator has none. Nada. Not one single weapon upgrade or power-up. Low on lives? Too bad. Think Kyle jumps too low? So do I, have a cookie. On the upside, the short, easy levels see to it you won't take too long or have too much trouble making it back to where you died.

I won't waste good space talking about the graphics and audio in this game. They're poor at best. The music and sounds are less than memorable and tinny as all hell. The graphics are bland and mock the capabilities of the Genesis. The backgrounds are just as dull as the levels they're supposed to be highlighting, and the sprites are stiff things that lack a lot of animation, especially with the Terminator - there's no movement beyond his legs and gun. In the lifespan of the Genesis, we've seen it display a perfect comic book in motion (Comix Zone), perfect movie animation (Aladdin), lush sprites with vast numbers of animation frames (Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure), pieces of sprites moving in perfect synchrinocity (Vectorman), and animated cutscenes (Flashback). We've heard orchestrated scores (Shining Force II), ominous voice-overs (Mortal Kombat 3), and creative, clear, lifelike sounds (Sonic the Hedgehog). There's no excuse for graphics and audio this bad.

Richard Branson is known for taking risks. He's flown hot-air balloons over oceans. He's a risk taker. I like that, and while I hate reality TV, I wish him the best with his show. But I hate it when risk taking spills over into a public forum. Branson's living on the edge is the only reason I can think of why he would let such a piece of garbage into the public. Releasing The Terminator may be one of the biggest risks Branson has ever taken. And I hope it bit him.

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