The Retro Critic

The Terminator (Genesis)

Judgement Day has finally come, folks.

Skulls Terminator

For The Terminator, the Sega Genesis game, anyway.

The future is not set.

The past is 16-bit.

Let’s all go back in time, steal homeless dude trousers, wear them all day long and take a look at a game which I used to play and always thought was crazily hard, if not impossible. A game that, playing it again today, turns out to not be all that complicated at all.

In a nutshell? You shoot things.

Shooting Terminator

A lot.

Silly me, right?

I mean, how is it I struggled with this game, almost gave up on it back in the day and yet I couldn’t stop playing RoboCop vs The Terminator? Aside from the fact that the latter is an altogether better game.

I think I’ve finally pin-pointed my issues with this Terminator game.

For one thing, the game lands you in the middle of a war with the machines, a war which looks really cool in the movie but feels pretty unpleasant once you’re actually in it. Your only weapons are goofy little grenades and your main enemies are either giant scary machines:

Grenade Terminator

Or adorable bob-ombs which float down gently by parachute…

Parachutes Terminator

Onto your BRAIN.

Your puny human brain.

The whole first level is like one stressful day at the office: just getting to work is a nightmare and once you get there it’s one thing after another. First you’ve got the tank machines and the helicopters, then you’ve got endless shirtless Arnold Schwarzeneggers shooting at you everywhere you go.

Arnie Terminator

You don’t get the machine gun until later, remember, so for a good while you’re just throwing grenades at everything, which is not exactly convenient when you’re running down tight corridors. You’re also placing bombs at the doors but, luckily, they blow away whatever cybernetic organisms happen to be nearby.

You’re rewarded with a proper weapon after you beat a mini-boss of sorts and then it’s just a matter of killing off all the Terminators that get in your way before they take you out first. The trick is to keep moving, keep running forward as you’re shooting, this becomes particularly useful in the next part.

Your character, Kyle Reese, rigs a bomb to explode in like 40 seconds. Which is a great idea in terms of being a pain the neck for Skynet but not so much when you’re just trying to get to the next level. Suddenly, everything goes red and you’ve got a time-limit so make sure you remember the exit or it’s hasta la vista, baby.

Red Terminator

Apparently the bomb turns your Genesis into a Virtual Boy temporarily.

The horror.

The horror…

The level ends with Reese going back in time, yada yada yada, here’s him naked:

Naked Terminator

Expect a lot of “yada yada yadas” in this review since the game follows key scenes of the first movie but also skips rather big chunks of it.

So yada yada yada, next thing you know Kyle Reese is fully dressed, running around town shooting at everything that moves. Mostly because everything that moves is shooting at him for some reason. I like how this game completely disregards innocents as Reese shoots thugs and police officers alike.

Cops Terminator

So much for these guys’ future.

I mean, sure their future wasn’t set but it was there, at least!

Oh well, at least they’re showing some pretty awesome movies in 1984.

Movie Terminator

Hey, wait a minute…

This opens up like 10 new plot-holes! (much like Terminator Genisys, funnily enough)

Did the James Cameron from the future somehow find a way to go back in time to make the movie just as the events depicted in the movie occur in that reality, thereby creating some kind of cinematic paradox?

This can’t be good: the James Cameron of the present doesn’t make great movies. Maybe the Terminator movie advertised in the game is in fact a bad version of The Terminator.

Again, much like Terminator Genisys.

Yada yada yada, you soon make your way to the most 80’s place there ever was, the night club Tech Noir, where you meet an Arnie boss you’ll need to run past after knocking him out for a few seconds. It’s not terribly difficult but it’s easier said than done.

Tech Noir Terminator

The next level depicts the scene at the police station where the famous “I’ll be back” line is uttered and where the T-800 annihilates just about every single cop in that station. There are a few floors to run through so don’t be too surprised if it takes you ages to clear this one.

Finally, it’s the Cyberdyne factory which appears at the end of the movie when Arnie is reduced to a limping tin can and then half a crawling tin can. It’s a cool-looking stage with lots of Terminators to shoot at, even though in the film it was just the one.

I like how the level ends when you recreate the scene where the Terminator, or what’s left of him at least, gets crushed by that big compactor.

Factory Terminator

Ok so that whole thing was way scarier in the movie but hey, they did a good job with it nonetheless.

There’s very little wrong with this game, if I’m honest. The graphics look good, it follows the movie pretty well, the controls are perfectly responsive, the sound effects rock, the music is great even if it’s not the classic Terminator theme, it’s a decent game. Maybe it does feel a little rushed and tame compared to RoboCop vs The Terminator but it works as it is. Perhaps having some mini-levels in between the main stages would have helped make it feel fuller: maybe a couple of driving levels recreating the truck chase scenes? Something like that.

I would recommend it, just don’t expect to waltz through it the first time playing it. That first level will not take it easy on you.

If you’re going to pick between two Terminator Gensises (or Genisyses) then definitely go for this one.

It’s somehow less silly.

Anyway, yada yada yada, here’s some mountains:

Ending Terminator