The Terminator

"Kyle Reese, a lone warrior from the future, returns to the past to protect the one woman who holds the key to the survival of the human race.  Together they must face not only everything Los Angeles can throw at them but also the terrifying might of a cyborg known as the Terminator... who will stop at nothing to kill them both."
Game Information
Developer Virgin Games
Publisher Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Copyright Date 1994
Players 1
Age Rating(s) BBFC PG
Save Type None
Cart Version No (same name, different game)

Part Numbers
Game T-70015-50
Front Cover None specific
Back Cover None specific
Manual None specific
Spine Card None specific
CD 1 None specific
Bar Code 5 013715 012003


One thing needs mentioning first - although this game shares its name and some of the presentation with a cartridge title, it's a different (and better) game.  But that wouldn't be difficult, would it?

The Terminator is made up of 10 run-and-gun levels which very loosely follow small parts of the film.  Starting off in the future, it's a fight to the Skynet base to get to the Time Project and send yourself back to 1984.  Once there it's two levels through the streets facing street thugs and bikers, then on to a bar, a police station to rescue Sarah, then finally a two level run through the Cyberdyne factory.  Throughout the 1984 levels the Terminator regularly harasses you, hopefully ending the game with you luring him into a compressor where Sarah waits to throw the switch.

The cut scenes shown at the start and between levels are, thankfully, quite short.  Most of the scenes taken from the film for use in the game are very dark, and the Mega-CD has only so many shades of dark blue to render them in, leaving many hard to distinguish (due in part to the small video window).  As the game doesn't follow the film very closely they feel very generic, as if they've been added just to make use of the licence rather than to add atmosphere.  The sprites are well animated but seem a little too small, and backgrounds are uninspired.  The background music is straight from the CD and is a mixture of soft rock tracks which are simply played in order rather than on a per-level basis.  This can lead to strange changes of pace in the middle of levels, leaving you thinking something is about to happen when it's just the disc playing the next track along.

Making your way through the first four levels you face off against a variety of machines.  As these are all meant to be mass-produced killing machines you can excuse the fact that there's little variety, and the designers have used some imagination to add a couple of extra enemies in these levels - an exoskeleton terminator dog anyone?  Unfortunately, the same lack of variety persists in the 1984 levels, and you'll end up killing the same three or four street punks over and over - and a man in a leather waistcoat takes just as many shots to kill as a T-100 exoskeleton.  Kyle is equally tough, and it takes a fair few hits to put him down for good.  Dispatching all of them is easy - although Kyle's first weapon sounds like a pop gun pick-ups have a meatier sound as well as being more effective, and health & grenade pickups are plentiful.  Kyle is capable of shooting in an upward diagonal direction when standing - just make sure you press up then to one side, otherwise you'll run across the screen.  Remembering this is essential in later levels where enemies are stood at the top of ladders you need to climb, meaning you have to pick them off first.  Sudden death drops are relatively rare, although there is one right by the exit of the first level - fall off a beam and most of the time you'll just have to retrace your steps.  Combine this with the reasonably short levels and plenty of restart points, and anyone with experience of this type of game will have to set the difficulty to hard, or it'll be finished on the first go.

As a 16-bit run-and-gun game The Terminator is a good, solid game.  It's not imaginative, innovative, tied in with the film particularly well or much of a challenge unless you make it one, but it's a great way to spend a lazy afternoon.

The spine card image above is a composite of the three sides taken through a sealed copy.  Can anyone supply an image from an opened copy?