The Retro Critic


Yup, I went there.

Probably one of the least liked, most negatively reviewed NES games around, Total Recall is one of those games that actually does try to stay close to the source material but in the process forgets to be good. A shame because a Total Recall game could (read: should) have been classic.

I mean, it’s not like the movie lacked material: Mars, triple-breasted whores…

But instead what we got from the NES wasn’t worth Dick. Philip K. Dick, that is.

What, you don’t remember Arnie punching Billy Crystal’s gonads in a dark alley?

What movie were YOU watching?

See, the first level of this game takes that one scene where Danny DeVito’s real twin drags Douglas Quaid down an alley and gets his ass handed too him and makes it into the single most annoying thing you’ll ever witness in a game. Every so often, some dude appears out of nowhere and pulls you into one of these alleys and forces you to fight him before you can get back to the street. If it happens once, fine, but if you’re not careful it’ll happen all the friggin’ time and that’s just cruel.

Another weird thing is you can choose to walk into some cinema and watch the closing credits of the game in order to gain an extra life. Whose idea was this? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to include a mini game or something at this point? Last time I checked, the game was never shown on the big screen! Who would go see that?

Anyway, along the way you encounter glory holes…

Out of place Terminator references…

I would have also accepted the following:

“Give these people ERROR!”

“I’ll CPU at the party, Richter!”

“Hasta la vista, Benny”

 Not to mention there’s an entire mini level based on those colorful skeletons from Mars Attacks!:

Total Recall isn’t a long game but the early levels are so tedious that chances are you’ll give up about halfway through. Which is a shame since the later levels are honestly not that hard, especially the bosses. Benny the friendly cab driver looks intimidating at first…

But all you need to do is keep walking right until he stops then walk back and continue shooting at his head until it literally flies off:

Shame, he had 5 kids to feed…

As for Cohaagen, it’s just a matter of showing up, walking up to him and just keep shooting until he dies or stands in a position perverted enough that I can take an out-of-context screenshot of it and post it for y’all to enjoy.

Simple acts in this game are a chore: Walking, punching, shooting, jumping… It should all be so straight-forward and yet you never stop struggling with everything you do.

Oh, and the irritating music doesn’t help.

I mean, how do you go from this:

To the ear-puke this game throws at you?

I will give it credit, though, it does at least try to present something resembling the movie. You’ve got OK-looking cut scenes with the likes of Arnie, Ronny Cox and Michael Ironside looking pretty much like what they’re supposed to.

Wait, subway? You don’t mean…


Man, these guys get around…

There’s also an overhead-view level in which you’re driving a tank shooting at vehicles but it’s so dull that a part of me dies every time I get to it. The game jumps the shark pretty early on plot-wise but it’s worth playing it all the way through because you do get some pretty hearty lols along the way:

You get to punch dogs in the ass…

Fight off cats (yes, CATS) and boomerangs…

You wander onto the set of Army Of Darkness for some reason…

And Arnie wearing a towel is always fun. In the game and in the movie.

Overall, Total Recall on the NES is a bad game, for sure, in that it’s simply not fun to play. The controls are awkward, you just want to skip every level 10 seconds after reaching them and the payoff is simply not worth it. The Mars pyramid explodes and all the air is given back to the Martian people, even though the graphics make it look like the planet is being flooded with water.

“Give these people air?” That’s all well and good but could I get the past 2 hours of my life back, please?

Give these people a good Total Recall game!!!

I mean, I gotta admit it has its share of lols and some nostalgic value but most of the time you’ll just be wishing you had a red marker handy and started fixing the game yourself!

Lets hope the movie remake, out this month, is entertaining at least…