This article is written by Alan Stares.
The 1984 smash hit film came bounding on to Sega’s flagship console in 1992 courtesy of Virgin games and Probe software. One would think a match made in heaven given the Megadrive’s love for futuristic, shooty type affairs but the game was almost universally panned on release and one can see why…….but it’s still a great game!
Probe software were one of my favourite developers, they seemed to be able to pull of some nifty things and the Terminator reeks of polish.
The graphics at first really hit you between the eyes. The futuristic first level looks gorgeous and very reminiscent of the film with well animated sprites and really lush backgrounds. This quality drops quite a bit in level 2 and beyond, with the backgrounds becoming pretty simple and not very imaginatively draw but the Sprites and animation remain good throughout. There are some very atmospheric digitised scenes from the movie thrown in between levels which is a very nice touch and pads out the action nicely.
The sound is one of the best things about the game. The Megadrives Yamaha YM2612 and SN76489 PSG sound chips were almost custom built for this game as the synthy nature of Megadrive sonics are an almost perfect match for Brad Fidels amazing synth movie score and as well as a very faithful recreation of the iconic title theme there are some superb pieces of Terminator-esque original music which TBH wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the film The Sound effects are snappy and effective with a few duff samples marring the proceedings but some great gunshot sounds as well!
Play wise well, I read all the reviews back in the day and yes they were right but I still bought the game anyway and I’m glad I did. The main problem with The Terminator is that it feels like an unfinished project that was rushed through development and into sales (probably for a xmas release!) and it shows. There are only a paltry four levels and all of them involve platform shooters. You can really tell that they intended the whole game to be like level 1 because that’s without a doubt the most well thought and impressive of the games stages with a noticeable drop in imagination with regards to level design as the game progresses. On the plus side the game is tremendous fun to play and it really does feel like a Terminator game.
I would have loved to see at least 2 more levels added to the game, with maybe a 3D motorcycle chase section or even a puzzle segment like the bland T2 on the Amiga had with maybe making bombs or something. This would have really served to expand the game and while I disagree with the reviewers that it’s piss easy because it isn’t you do find yourself nearing the last level pretty quickly it has to be said. Finishing the game is another story though…..
There’s no point in talking about value for money in this day and age because you just download for free and play on emulators but I’ll say this – A game is more than just graphics and sound, and in some cases even playability. There is an atmosphere, a feeling that is captured which fires the imagination and sometimes that can be enough (for me anyway) to carry a game.
The Terminator on the Megadrive is such a game. It’s blatant overall flaws are thinly masked but masked nonetheless with some fun playability and great visuals and sound and, I have a confession to make…..I’m not a great gamer. I love games and I play them all the time but I’m not very good at them and I was never one for spending ages playing the same thing (Bar Lucasarts adventures) so small bursts of play were my thing and in that the Terminator is almost perfect.
It’s just a shame it wasn’t given the full development time it deserved and became one of the all time great Megadrive titles.
Alan Stares is a long time gamer and chiptuner. You can listen to chiptunes from classic games systems and covers of classic game music. You can listen to some of them at Prototron.