RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Oct 15th 2014 at 11:08:03 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under Terminator, Sega CD, action films, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 80s, Sylvester Stallone


As a kid of the 80's, Hollywood slammed my generation with awesome action films starring arguably the two biggest names in action at the time, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Of course, the gaming industry understood the popularity of these movies and were quick to cash in by churning out action movie titles based on some of our most beloved films: the Rambo series, Total Recall, Predator, Terminator 2, and Die Hard, etc. (just to name a few). The labels and boxes of these games were seductive and often depicted the movie posters themselves, or very recognizable scenes directly from these films.  No doubt about it, any young kid/teenager coming across these games on their local store shelf was immediately filled with excitement knowing that they were about to bring home that same movie experience and blast away baddies as their favorite action stars.............well...........that was the idea, wasn't it? 

Unfortunately, for the vast majority of these titles, the surface was far from the reality; often the games were very bad and had little, or nothing to do with the plot of the film itself. So imagine my distrust when a good friend came over to my house a few weeks ago, pointed to my copy of The Terminator for Sega CD and said, "Have you played that yet? Man, you should, because it is f%&king awesome!"     



A great example of how cool scenery just kind of pops up in the foreground.

**photo courtesy of defunctgames.com**

Let me "rewind" this scene for a moment and give you little history as to why this game is even in my collection. About 6 months ago, I came across a Genesis (Model 1) and Sega CD (Model 2) combo at my local Goodwill. This specific store has a smaller accessory store attached where they sell all of their computer and video game related material. I saw the system behind the counter and inquired about the price.  Since I had sold my broken Model 1 a few years ago for parts, I was eager to have another to play the very few Sega CD games I had. Though they usually test systems at this store, they couldn't figure how to test this one (anyone who has tried to build the Sega Trifecta understands), and I was able to snag it for an agreeable price.

I imagine that like some of you, when I grab a new console that I am unfamiliar with, I take to YouTube to find "Top 10," "Best Of," or "Hidden Gem" videos in order to find games that I might be interested in playing. While watching someone's list (sorry, I don't remember who's), I came across a recommendation for The Terminator. Of course, I was immediately skeptical, and with my history with action titles, who wouldn't be? At the time, I ignored the review and went about my merry way, adding other Sega CD titles to my list. Excited about the possibility of grabbing a few new games, I visited my local retro gaming store and sought out a few of these newly discovered titles from my wishlist. Of course, with Sega CD titles, their selection is always typically slim and the options for that day were no different. I grabbed a copy of Sol Feace (for me shmups are no brainers), but wasn't able to find anything else on my wishlist. However, I did notice that they had a copy of The Terminator for around $15......no, I didn't buy it that day. In fact, I didn't buy it for over a month later, though I picked it up and put it down every time I came in the store. I was reluctant, and for good reason.

Okay, Wayne's World time warp back to my friend being over at my house a few months later....



**video courtesy of rnlol**


So my buddy entices forces me to play the game by immediately taking it off my shelf and popping it in. I have to say, I was immediately impressed with the look of it and these odd, but very cool, moments where large objects (like a pile of skulls) would rise up and appear in the foreground. The music was amazing as well!  This wasn't what I was use to in an action film title, this game was beautiful! From the onset, I was hooked, the controls were super smooth and felt very solid and reactive. Not only could you move about the game fluidly in traversing terrain, jumping over obstacles, crouching, and using ladders and other such mechanisms, but you could fire your weapon up and at different angles from ladders, steps, and platforms to avoid taking unnecessary damage. The three buttons on the Genesis controller are well implemented: one fires unlimited bullets, one jumps, and the other throws a limited amount of grenades that are found throughout the game. From the onset, I can honestly say that the controls in this game just felt great!

The Terminator is an action platformer in which you control Kyle Reese. You begin in the year 2029 A.D. battling "The Machines," before time traveling to 1984 L.A. to protect Sarah Connor. Sound familiar? It should, since the game actually follows fairly closely to the plot of the original film. I know, it took me awhile to actually come to grips that this was actually happening too, and I was immediately overwhelmed with excitement when I first noticed. The game is comprised of 10 stages and in between each of them is an actual, digitized cut-scene from the film. I'll be the first to admit that these cut-scenes don't look the best, but I think it's a minor complaint when you consider the system's capabilities and the fact that they made the effort to even include them at all.

In the original film, the Terminator is the primary bad guy you have to avoid and in later stages, he continues to come after you and make your life a living Hell. Like the film, you can take him down, but you can't destroy him. The game also includes additional enemies, Terminators and other machines of destruction in the early areas, and street punks in the L.A. portions.  Though the street punks are not really important players in the original film, their inclusion was used as a means to enhance gameplay by increasing the amount of enemies to battle; for this reason, I can easily overlook this choice.


**photo courtesy of defunctgames.com**

Graphically, The Terminator is beautiful and really shows off the capabilities of the Sega CD. The backdrops and the various area mock-ups are colorful and nicely detailed, and the sprite work is very well done. Graphics and gameplay meld well, and probably the most noticeable example of this characteristic is in the fluid and realistic movement of the main character. Unlike many video games, where movement looks awkward and stagnant, the animators really hit it out of the park here; it looks and feels great!  Even the smallest details, like Reese's clothes changing from his futuristic Human Resistance garb to the more present day trenchcoat attire, is a more subtle, yet appreciated, change in the game.

Though I'm the kind of person who appreciates good music in a game, I can typically ignore poor music if the gameplay is good. It's fortunate that I didn't even have to consider this option with The Terminator; the soundtrack for this game, is outstanding!  The musical score was composed by Tommy Tallarico, Bijan Shaheer, Joey Kuras, and TeknoMan and includes a great mix of heavy rock and electronic tunes. My friend who popped in the game mentioned playing it as a kid and said that he liked the soundtrack so much that he would listen to it in his car.  If you're into great video game music, I'd highly suggest hopping through all of the tracks on YouTube.


**music courtesy of iamspider**

If you had as disappointing a childhood as I did when it came to action movie-related video game titles, then pick up a copy of The Terminator on Sega CD. It may not alleviate all of the damage done in your early years, but it will certainly give you a good feeling knowing that at least someone out there got it right. You will not longer have to fantasize about being Kyle Reese and protecting the fair Sarah Connor from the metallic grips of the Govenator. However, if you're like me, now you can spend your days dreaming about and questioning why they never made a video game version of The Running Man. I mean it's PERFECT, right?? KILLIANNNNNNNNN!!!!!!




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Comments
 
I thought Smash TV was the video game version of Running Man? Or was that Robocop?
 
@Shadow Kisuragi: It's Smash TV that was inspired by The Running Man, but still, not the same.
 
I bought my first Sega CD about a year and a half ago, and I watched the AVGN Sega CD review to get acquainted with the system (odd choice, I know).  When he said that The Terminator for Sega CD was awesome, I knew I had to get it.  It probably took me somewhere between 1 and 2 dozen tries to finally beat the game, but I loved every minute of it.
 
Looks like another awesome platformer I will need to look into, once I either get the hookups for my CDX, or get a SEGA CD. I definitely knew there were a few games based off movies that were good among all the crap, (Especially lately), but I am finding more and more good movie-based titles as time passes. Thank you for sharing this and taking the time to produce it.
 
Great game.  For some reason this The Terminator and Wolfchild always make me nostalgic for this kind of a superior CD-based platformer.  After I read your article I went and watched videos for this.  Really amazing.
 
Glad you guys enjoyed the review. As you know, I typically only review Atari 2600 games. However, the way I came across this title and ending up playing it was a great experience and I felt that I needed to share the greatness of this somewhat hidden gem with everyone. Smiley
 
I still have PTSD from Total Recall on NES... I'm glad to hear that this is a good one. I've never played it, but I will keep my eyes peeled.
 
@singlebanana: Yeah, I'm aware that the host was essentially Killian. We have a couple copies of the Stephen King short story in the house as well.

The RoboCop connection was the "I'd buy that for a dollar" quip the host borrows from the commercial in RoboCop.
 
Awesome review singlebanana! I have the game on my want list already, but your review sealed the deal. In the meantime I will have to settle for my far inferior copy of The Terminator for SMS.
 
@Duke.Togo: How can anybody have PTSD from that game? It has the X-Rays and the wall of gloryholes!
 
That music is rockin'!! Definitely added another notch to the small Sega CD Wishlist. Thanks Rich!
 
@Crabmaster2000: Yeah, the music in this game is killer (no pun intended) and really adds so much to the game that you'll want to blast it. Though I didn't discuss the ending in my review, let me just leave it at this and say that it's super worth it.

EDIT: Also determined that the track called "Future Shock" kind of sounds like Skid Row's "Youth Gone Wild" at times. Ha!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPhlHV7vfSw&list=RDuGobJ153r78&index=3
 
I wouldn't say this game is "awesome" if you played Flashback: The Quest for Identity first (the Techno Bar is a blatant rip-off of The Death Tower levels from that), but it is still pretty good, including the music indeed.
 
@Vectorguy: Correction: the TechnOIR level wasn't a rip off of Death Tower, it was the Club Paradise levels.  Geez, two mistakes in one comment there (oh well, I didn't get enough sleep last night and I had to call the cops on the neighbors this morning, so my mind's obviously elsewhere)...
 
One thing I loved about growing up was the rapid evolution of games. I originally played Terminator on the Master System. It was OK. Then when I got a Mega Drive I played it on there, a nice upgrade for the SMS version. Then later I get to play the Mega-CD version... and WOW. An entirely different game, getting everything right. No surprise that so long after, the game still inspired me with my game Soulless.

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