Wolfie’s fine, honey. Wolfie’s just fine.

Arnie Schwarzenegger famously spoke only 700 words in Terminator 2 (642 more than in T1) what with being a cyborg with a limited social repertoire, and the movie so laden with explosive action set pieces and special effects that there was little time left for long drawn out soliloquies. So when Ocean snagged the license to deliver the small screen computer interpretation it should have been a match made in heaven (or at least a post-apocalyptic dystopia). Then the notoriously shoddy publishers LJN (arch nemesis of the AVGN) got involved. It was all downhill from there.

Actually whilst the box carried the dreaded LJN stamp they didn’t produce a single title in-house themselves. Development duties were in fact outsourced to a Wolverhampton based team called Dementia. I know, the jokes write themselves so I’ll let it go. Unfounded assumptions aside, Dementia did give birth to the highly acclaimed Corporation, a faithful port of Atari’s Gauntlet II coin-op, and a competent arcade conversion of SEGA’s Golden Axe. Hot Rod (another SEGA coin-op port) wasn’t awful I suppose.

What went wrong here then was likely a recipe of tight deadlines combined with guaranteed sales regardless of effort expended. Sticking Arnie’s face on the cover of most things tends to achieve that. Maybe not a ballet dancing training manual. Actually, scratch that, Arnie even made a success of dancing.

“I wrote all the code for the horizontal scrolling section in 1 night! – I also recall the weather during development was rather nice as I spent too much time riding my ZXR400@14000rpm (sounded mega), and working at Donington Park for Jim Russell rather than spending days on end in “my box” (as my other half now calls it). …I couldn’t really get into T2, it was around that time that I got a bit cynical when I realised that the success (& income) from games was more to do with marketing spend and licensing than developer effort or game play depth/quality. An opinion which was enforced to some extent by Mortal Kombat, which although I think I did a good job with, was destined for success because Acclaim spent so much money on telling people that they should buy it.”

“We had the contract to produce the game with the spec to follow the film. So we wrote down the various obvious scenes then tried to follow that theme – but the timescale was short so we did it quick etc. The publishers OK’d it (it was probably a cheap licence) and that was that. I didn’t realise there was a C64 version, “we” created the ST/Amiga and PC versions as I recall. Graphics were typical Kev – he is an excellent artist, particularly character animation.”

– Terminator 2 coder, Richard Costello (posted on the EAB forum, August 2009)

Skipping over the original Terminator – seeing as the Amiga didn’t exist in 1984 – Judgment Day arrived in 1991 to coincide with the eagerly awaited $523.7m grossing sequel (the most successful action ever!). True to early licensed gaming form it comprises eight mini-games spanning three genres. In this case coded on a Mega4 ST running Hisoft’s Devpack. I say eight, though when half of the levels are almost identical rehashes of previous sections (albeit with a fresh backdrop) you’re only getting a fraction of the awful game you thought you were. Maybe that’s a bonus? You could play one and skip the next to draw a line under the torture that much quicker.

Created by digitising a model of the original T-800 set against a backdrop picture. Well, he said he’d be back!

Following an impressive vertically panned still frame introduction, heralded with suitably dramatic thudding combat music, level one gets underway in the mall. The Sherman Oaks Galleria shopping mall in LA to be precise, home to the arcade in which we see John playing the coin-op games After Burner and Missile Command right before the T-1000 (played by Robert Patrick) gate-crashes the party. Interestingly Atari’s 1980 Missile Command cabinet wasn’t merely a random prop choice; in it you assume the role of a military commander tasked with protecting six cities from aerial assault via ballistic rockets.

Nevertheless, Officer Patrick (having stolen the identity, clothes and motorbike from a policeman) isn’t remotely interested in the history of video games, or the impact of playing them on John’s social and educational well-being.

Of course the time-travelling cyborg’s only concern is tracking down and assassinating the arrogant little brat to prevent the future leader of the rebellion standing in the way of Skynet’s world domination strategy. That is to attack Russia under the guise of the US military, manipulating them into counter-attacking the west with WMD, sparking a nuclear holocaust. Clever!

The Terminator: In three years, Cyberdyne will become the largest supplier of military computer systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defence. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

Sarah Connor: Skynet fights back.

The Terminator: Yes. It launches its missiles against the targets in Russia.

John Connor: Why attack Russia? Aren’t they our friends now?

The Terminator: Because Skynet knows that the Russian counterattack will eliminate its enemies over here.

Luckily for John and mummy (Sarah Connor) Arnie – now reprogrammed as the good guy – has also been doing a spot of paradox-tempting time-travelling. 44 year old John himself living in 2029 sends Arnie (the T-800, model 101) back to protect himself, 10 year old John living in 1995.

John Connor: You’re not here to kill me. I figured out that for myself. So what’s the deal?

The Terminator: My mission is to protect you.

John Connor: Yeah? Who sent you?

The Terminator: You did. Thirty-five years from now, you reprogrammed me to be your protector here, in this time.

John Connor: This is deep…

Whilst the liquid metal shape-shifting T-1000 stalks John, the clunky old T-800 stalks the T-1000. Soon enough metal meets metal in a behind the scenes corridor at the mall and the two cyborgs engage in a clash of the titans scale cavalcade of carnage.

In the game the idea is to fend off the mimetic poly-alloy executioner long enough to allow John to escape the mall on his motorbike. We know it’s the mall because there’s a drinks machine in the background, only not an authentic Pepsi model for copyright reasons. That was Dementia’s token effort towards setting the scene. Then again, except for the bucket and mop and drinks dispenser, the skirmish takes place in an empty corridor. On second thoughts, full marks for accuracy!

 

If you’re familiar with the movie you’ll know that Mr Patrick is practically indestructible at this stage. So the main focus is to keep running until we reunite with Sarah Connor’s pals in the Mojave Desert and tap their covert artillery stash before evacuating to Mexico. But we’re time-travelling ahead of ourselves. Sarah hasn’t been rescued yet. One of the pitfalls of spending so much time in the DeLorean. 😉

John Connor: We need to get my mother.

The Terminator: Negative. The T-1000’s highest probability for success now will be to copy Sarah Connor and to wait for you to make contact with her.

John Connor: Great, but what happens to her?

The Terminator: Typically, the subject being copied is terminated.

John Connor: S**t! Why didn’t you tell me? We gotta go right now!

The Terminator: Negative. She’s not a mission priority.

John Connor: F**k you! She’s a priority to me!

As a beat ’em up it’s abysmal. You shoot your – hey, that’s not a sawn-off Winchester 1887 shotgun – until its meagre ammo rations expire. Then it becomes a haphazard button-mashing affair. Arnie punches and kicks as you’d predict, and as long as you don’t back off, the level is completed by default. You can even switch on auto-fire and have a snooze if you can’t be bothered battering the buttons, or shoot him off-screen – thereby winning by default – before you enter from the opposite side yourself.

On route to pixelisation, somewhere in the movie license mincing machine Arnie lost the ability to lift his feet off the floor more than once in a blue moon. Now forced to arthritically shuffle his way to every confrontation it’ll be D-Day before we land the first blow.

“At the time I programmed T2 I was learning Wing Chun Kung Fu for real, so when Kev (artist) wanted to work out the stance for the characters & how they walked I showed him the Wing Chun stance and foot shuffle (moving forward without crossing legs) which he used for the T2 animation (kind of). I thought it needed to be more of a walk than a shuffle as I felt martial artists tended to be oriental and light as opposed to a robot based on Arnold. :D”

– Terminator 2 coder, Ricardo Costello (posted on the EAB forum, August 2009)

I wanted to find a picture of Bruce Lee with his head in his hands crying in despair. This is the best I could come up with.

It’s no wonder Arnie wouldn’t approve the use of his likeness for the in-game sprites. He’d be too embarrassed to be associated with this conveyor belt gaming tat.

More specifically, Dementia had permission to reproduce any visuals taken from the movie itself through the process of digitisation, but not from promotional stills or poster artwork. Anything created from scratch had to be an original design so as not to resemble Arnie’s face too closely. Well, kind of. Some of the designs are actually instantly recognisable, so the rules and regulations seem to be fairly elastic.

It would appear that Brad Fiedel’s fantastic soundtrack was off-limits too since the only instrumental in the game is an original piece composed by the talented musician, Dean Evans, and played over the title screen. It does however integrate the iconic opening beats created by bashing a cast-iron frying pan with a hammer. That alone makes it surprisingly effective as a device for evoking indulgent memories of the movies.

Just when we think we’re out of the woods John is chased relentlessly through a junk-strewn storm drain in the San Fernando Valley on his puny trail bike. The T-1000 has commandeered an articulated lorry juggernaut and intends to squish John into extinction, unless Arnie can hoist him aboard his stolen Harley Davidson and whisk him off to safety.

 

 

 

 

 

In Ocean’s game this takes the form of a top-down racer much like Spy Hunter in which we must swerve or vault obstacles as we head towards the end-of-the-line bridge supports. If we can stay upright long enough to reach these we’ll sail on through unscathed while the much heftier HGV crumples, exploding in a plume of smoke and flames. Obviously the T-1000 walks clear without incurring a single scratch. That’s his trademark.

Anyone else suddenly hankering to get behind the wheel of Tomy’s Turnin’ Turbo Dashboard car racing toy!

Unusually we have two energy reserves to consider, one for the rider and another for the pillion passenger. If Arnie collides with an obstacle he takes a hit, yet John is the one to sustain damage if the truck makes contact from behind. Always nice to keep your options open I suppose. Erm… even when your choices are death or death.

Level three introduces another new genre; tile slide puzzling. Our goal is to rearrange the pieces of Arnie’s wrist to repair his damaged circuitry. This part was modelled on graphician Kevin Bulmer’s own hand, and inspired by the first movie strangely enough, as if the second wasn’t a treasure trove of expedient action hooks on which to hang a game segment.

“You can also blame me for the sliding block puzzles, I love ’em.”

– Terminator 2 coder, Ricardo Costello (posted on the EAB forum, August 2009)

Even a clothes-gathering exercise would be preferable to this. It could be just like the Benny Hill game for the Spectrum. 😐 

The Terminator: I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle.

Cigar Biker: You forgot to say please…

You don’t have to solve the surgical puzzle entirely to progress to the next level, but the more of it you complete the greater your energy replenishing reward. Keeping this topped up to preserve our single life is critical considering the difficult curve soon ramps up exponentially, so it’s not just a point-scoring interlude.

Sarah’s current home, the Pescadero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, is the setting for level four. It’s a duplicate of the mall without the drinks machine. Now the walls are decorated with a no smoking sign, window and escalator door. The sign could easily have been put up for Sarah’s benefit alone considering how often she’s seen smoking. It’s odd how she’s so fixated on making people cognisant of the value of human life and fighting the robots to safeguard their future existence, yet is perfectly content to flush hers down the toilet, forever seen sucking on cancer sticks.

 

 

Sarah Connor: (narrating) The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope. Because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.

John Connor: We’re not gonna make it, are we? People, I mean.

The Terminator: It’s in your nature to destroy yourselves.

John Connor: Yeah. Major drag, huh?

 

Head out on the highway, looking for adventure… or mental patients.

Anyway, although it’s only implied, Arnie and John have infiltrated the secure hospital to break out Sarah who has been indefinitely incarcerated for rambling hysterically about Armageddon and lethal cyborg assassins. Plus the minor infraction of attempting to blow up a computer factory.

Dr. Silberman: I’m sure it feels very real to you.

Sarah Connor: On August 29th, 1997, it’s gonna feel pretty f**king real to you too. Anybody not wearing 2 million sunblock is gonna have a real bad day. Get it?

 

 

In-game we’re fighting to buy John and Sarah time to escape to the lift leading onto the car park where they shanghai a police car in order to flee the scene. As before you’ll have to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. It’s just another button masher targeted towards depleting the T-1000’s energy reserves.

It’s puzzle time again; level five is another chance to top-up our energy reserves to maximum. Our aim is to rebuild Arnie’s face by realigning the sliding tiles. Wow, really? These things are tedious when you’re playing the genuine article, embracing the ‘excitement’ of all that tactile feedback. I have no inclination to recreate the sad experience on a computer capable of delivering a cornucopia of creative multimedia delights, frenetic gameplay and complex storytelling.

The only interesting thing about this stage is that Arnie’s face differs between the alternative releases of the game. With the pirated edition Arnie is depicted using a more photo-realistic image, whereas the retail release features a cartoon caricature. What I imagine happened here is that the crackers received a ‘work in progress’ or alternative version of the floppies and distributed those assuming it was the final issue. It would have been leaked by an internal employee involved in the production of the game, or perhaps someone who was sent an early copy for review purposes… the gaming equivalent of a movie ‘screener’.

Another example of this can be seen in the varying avatar depictions of Sarah’s face in the level in which she ‘co-stars’. Possibly in both incidences the more realistic versions were getting too close for comfort to their human counterparts, raising copyright concerns.

“Hmmm I recall a change now as you suggest, I think it was we had the rights to use the T2 title etc but no rights to use movie content directly – hence Kev had to draw a graphic.”

– Terminator 2 coder, Ricardo Costello (posted on the EAB forum, August 2009)

With Arnie’s face back in shape we head off to the Cyberdyne Systems lab to terrorise engineer Miles Bennett Dyson and destroy his magnum opus; a revolutionary new cybernetic processor he’s being toiling away on night and day for many years. One that will fairly shortly (on 29th August 1997 to be precise) lead to a robotic uprising in the form of a sentient Skynet.

Sarah Connor: (narrating) Three billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines. The computer which controlled the machines, Skynet, sent two Terminators back through time. Their mission: to destroy the leader of the human resistance, John Connor, my son. The first Terminator was programmed to strike at me in the year 1984, before John was born. It failed. The second was set to strike at John himself when he was still a child. As before, the resistance was able to send a lone warrior, a protector for John. It was just a question of which one of them would reach him first.

In the movie Miles somehow survives Sarah’s gung-ho attempts to annihilate him, and John and Arnie arrive in the nick of time to talk some sense into her… or should he be killed to save the human race? That’s the dilemma.

No is the answer they mutually reach. The trio, Miles and his distraught wife have a heart to heart after Arnie rips off his forearm skin to back up their sci-fi horror story, resulting in Miles’ agreement to destroy his life’s work.

Sarah Connor: (narrating) Dyson listened while the Terminator laid it all down: Skynet, Judgment Day, the history of things to come. It’s not every day you find out that you’re responsible for three billion deaths. He took it pretty well.

Miles Dyson: (after the Terminator completes his story) I feel like I’m gonna throw up. You’re judging me on things that I haven’t even done yet. How are we supposed to know?

Sarah Connor: Yeah, right. How are you supposed to know? F**king men like you built the hydrogen bomb. Men like you thought it up. You think you’re so creative. You don’t know what it’s like to really create something; to create a life; to feel it growing inside you. All you know how to create is death and destruction…

John Connor: Mom! We need to be a little more constructive here, okay? We still have to stop this from happening, don’t we?

Consequently the lab is rigged with explosives once the arm and a computer chip recovered from the first terminator back in 1984 have been destroyed. Already fatally wounded Miles offers to stay behind holding the detonator while the rest of the crew escape the eviscerated ruins of the high tech complex.

John Connor: We’ve got company!… Police!

Sarah Connor: How many?

John Connor: Uh… all of ’em, I think.

Its dishevelled state is partly due to the onslaught of a heavy-duty police raid and their all-out war against Arnie’s one-man army from the future. Well, Sarah is a formidable force in her own right it should be noted. I just thought that sentence had a nice ring to it.

What’s also nice is seeing an emotionally and physically strong female co-star in an action film. She’s a no holds barred human terminator. In preparation for the role Linda Hamilton lost 12 pounds in weight, learnt judo, and embarked on an intensive military grade training regime for three hours a day, six days a week, for thirteen weeks. Her coach throughout was none other than former Israeli commando, Uzi Gal, in addition to her own personal trainer, Anthony Cortesto. Other than Sigourney Weaver playing Ellen Ripley in the Alien series there haven’t been that many other examples of non-misogynistic female heroes over the years.

 

Ah yes, the ransacked computer lab, that’s where we were. In the most ridiculous non-lethal standoff you’ve ever seen, alternately wielding an M79 grenade launcher, MM1 grenade launcher and hand-held M134 mini-gun (the same prop used in Predator), Arnie only targets the SWAT team’s vehicles having sworn to John that he won’t kill anyone. Maiming is perfectly fine though.

 

John Connor: You just can’t go around killing people.

The Terminator: Why?

John Connor: What do you mean why? ‘Cause you can’t.

The Terminator: Why?

John Connor: Because you just can’t, okay? Trust me on this.

John is working on house-training his new pet robot you see, since it allowed director James Cameron to crowbar in a degree of levity absent from the first movie.

Regrettably the drawback is that this leaves the police alive and kicking and free to regroup to mount another assault. Oops.

John Connor: Does it hurt when you get shot?

The Terminator: I sense injuries. The data could be called ‘pain’.

All this detail is skirted over in the game leaving a side-scrolling stroll through the most spartan street you’ve seen in your life. It’s a platforming interlude that ‘unfolds’ over a single, depth-free platform. Does that make it more of a floor game on rails? Even Double Dragon treats us to multiple planes when standing on the ground. We pick off a few members of the police SWAT team firing a mini-gun in one of three exciting directions; forwards, diagonally up or diagonally down.

John Connor: It’s definitely you.

As a measure of our progress, the face of a single policeman displayed in the HUD represents the life-force of the entire sortie. Culminating in the hijacking of a police SWAT van we speed off towards the penultimate mission. ‘Uneventful’ doesn’t begin to cover it.

Fleeing the scene in said van, not pursued by the police, but the T-1000 in a stolen police helicopter our challenge as always is not to die in a horrendous gut-wrenching collision. After all we have the children to think of… and the children’s children… and their pet iguanas, and so on and so forth.

As Sarah hangs out of the back of the transit to target the looming chopper Arnie keeps his bionic eyes on the road, steering humanity’s only hope of survival. The trick is to align the vehicle with Patrick long enough for Sarah to take aim and levy some serious damage.

 

This being a busy highway there are plenty of treacherous obstacles to avoid, as in the Harley level. The most significant being an out of control tailgating police chopper incessantly ramming our bumper. There’s something you don’t see every day… no wheels you see.

In the movie both parties pilfer new vehicles from civilian commuters and the mechanical cat and mouse chase rages on. Rather fortuitously this entails steamrolling at full tilt through a steelworks foundry causing a colossal chemical spill involving industrial quantities of liquid nitrogen (the cargo of the truck the T-1000 was driving). This lands the faux cop in a catatonic deep-freeze hibernation, Arnie shoots him and he shatters into thousands of pieces.

 

 

Jolly inconvenient I have to say, the T-1000’s state of stasis is only temporary – he soon reforms, each fragment of his mercurial being drawn together like metal filings to a magnet. Before we know it he’s back in full flow gunning for the troika of world-saving heroes, only now his shape-shifting abilities are on the blink he tends to stick to objects and partially morph when he doesn’t intend to.

John Connor: Wait a minute here. You’re telling me that this thing can imitate anything it touches?

The Terminator: Anything it samples by physical contact.

John Connor: Get real, like it could disguise itself as a pack of cigarettes?

The Terminator: No, only an object of equal size.

John Connor: Then why doesn’t it become a bomb or a machine gun or something to get me?

The Terminator: The T-1000 can’t form complex machines. Guns and explosives have chemicals in them. Moving parts. It doesn’t work that way, but it can form solid metal shapes.

John Connor: Like what?

The Terminator: Knives and stabbing weapons.

 

 

Back on the small screen it’s time for another scrolling beat ’em up segment in an arena that marginally passes for the steelworks. Thanks to the T-1000’s immersion in liquid nitrogen he’s no longer invulnerable so can be defeated with bog-standard punches and kicks.

Once he’s endured the requisite number of hits we have to imagine him falling into the white hot molten steel and perishing (permanently this time) since we’re not going to be re-living the frenzied scene from the movie in any kind of playable form. Instead we’re treated to a single digitised still from the movie to indicate that Patrick is a goner.

John Connor: Is it dead?

The Terminator: Terminated.

 

Hasta la vista, baby!

We must also infer that Arnie has subsequently instructed Sarah to lower him into the fiery pit to ensure the complete termination of all as yet unborn cybernetic threats to human civilisation. Cue a surprisingly melancholic suicidal valediction between the T-800 substitute father and John, who by this stage has become tantamount to his surrogate son.

Sarah Connor: It’s finally over. Terminator: No. There is another chip.

 

 

Sarah Connor: (voiceover) Watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The terminator, would never stop. It would never leave him, and it would never hurt him, never shout at him, or get drunk and hit him, or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there. And it would die, to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.

You could never hope to mirror such an immaculately poignant theatrical ending in a computer game with 1991 technology, yet eliciting some semblance of acquaintance with the spectacular blockbuster would have been appreciated. Instead what we were saddled with is a lazy, slapdash series of disjointed PD quality mini-games.

It’s a shame since plenty of care and attention to detail has clearly been lavished on certain elements of the presentation. Highlights include the atmospheric music dripping with industrial resonance, austere nevertheless suspenseful title screen, and some of the more convincing animation sequences, along with the stills created using Zoetrope by Antic Software.

Patrick melting into a liquid metal puddle and then morphing back into his pseudo-human form is really well executed. As is his molten metal headbutt. I gather this was taken from the scene in which the T-1000 latches onto a flying police helicopter and enters through a broken window to seize control. It’s not exactly a headbutt, although probably the closest thing to it.

Unfortunately all the goofy feet shuffling from both terminators, lack of cohesion, and above all else, fun, renders any goodwill earned elsewhere null and void.

We learn from the CU Amiga preview that the beat ’em up sections were to incorporate 20 independent attack moves. These were to be executed utilising the same limited directional controls and fire button, variably determined by Arnie’s position in relation to the T-1000. In practice we experience little of this nuance since Arnie is so sluggish, and doesn’t seem to respond as predicted, instead regurgitating the same minimal set of kicks and punches. The T-1000’s liquid metal DIY weapons as discussed in the previews also fell by the wayside.

During the driving sections the controls are far less stiff, responsive even, the fun factor alternatively sabotaged by our proximity to the top of the screen. When we have so little time to react to oncoming obstacles, making any progress rests solely on memorising the course and repeating our tried and tested routines on autopilot after the zillionth fatal splat.

On that note, difficulty is uneven throughout; from the first level’s effortless auto-fire solution to the last’s Impossible Mission encounter in the steelworks. When you’re allocated with just the one life (with a ‘carry over’ energy system) to complete all eight levels it’s unlikely that many people would have completed the game without cheating. Longplay ninjas on the other hand can race through it in about a quarter of an hour, including sitting through two and a half minutes worth of intro animation.

Tiny two second digitised clips from the trailer are used to link a selection of the sub-games. These were originally designed to be four times larger, however, when it dawned on Kevin and Ricardo that each of the images comprising the animated snippets would consume 240k of disk space it became clear it wouldn’t be feasible to include them in their current resolution. Sadly their compromised analogues appear horribly granular today, and funnily enough I don’t remember being blown away by them at the time either. Animated pixel art cut-scenes adopting cartoon renditions of the sprites seen in-game would likely have gelled more effectively given the inevitable limitations of the technology. By holding up an approximation of the real thing adjacent to the gaming equivalent you only remind the player of what a raw deal they’re getting. Even the free t-shirt couldn’t distract us from that nagging notion.

 

Similar shortcuts were taken with regards to the gameplay. For instance the previews discussed promoting Sarah to playable character status during the asylum level. She was to star in her own level, breaking herself free from the secure unit having battled tooth and nail through waves of nurses and guards armed with a stolen baton (the one she swapped for a broken mop handle in the movie). That never came to fruition within the Amiga edition, although she does take the lead for one level in the C64 port (courtesy of a different development team) in a proper platforming escapade similar to those seen in Total Recall, also by Ocean.

To be fair to the designers – artist Kevin Bulmer (RIP) and coder Richard Costello – it would have been difficult to get a true sense of the awe-inspiring impact of the movies’ cutting edge special effects, meme-tastic one-liners and the apocalyptic momentousness of the plot having only seen the trailer and read the script during the design phase.

Upon first meeting with Ocean’s development director, Gary Bracey, they initially expressed interest in devising a humongous RPG along the lines of Eye of the Beholder, only superior. Not a T2 themed one, this was before Gary showed them the movie script and asked how they felt about the prospect of being appointed to produce the official accompanying game. Despite some initial reservations they pushed their own plans aside and began working on Terminator 2, soon drafting a 20 page design document.

With hindsight, perhaps by combining the two disparate concepts we might have ended up with a more engaging movie tie-in. One thing’s for sure, it couldn’t have been any worse!

Sarah Connor: (speaks into her recorder) August 29, 1997, came and went. Nothing much happened. Michael Jackson turned 40. There was no Judgment Day. People went to work as they always do. Laughed, complained, watched TV, made love. I wanted to run through the street yelling to grab them all and say, “Every day from this day on is a gift. Use it well.” Instead, I got drunk. That was 30 years ago. But the dark future which never came still exists for me. And it always will, like the traces of a dream. John fights the way differently than it was foretold. Here, on the battlefield of the Senate his weapons are common sense and hope.

Sarah’s Granddaughter: (runs up to Sarah) Tie me, Grandma. Tie me!

Sarah Connor: How’s that?

Sarah’s Granddaughter: Thank you, Grandma.

Sarah Connor: The luxury of hope was given to me by the Terminator. Because if a machine can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.

4 thoughts on “Wolfie’s fine, honey. Wolfie’s just fine.

  • January 17, 2019 at 7:50 am
    Permalink

    An excellent account of the T2 game, and I did enjoy the alternate ending frame captures (two disc T-2 in Region 4 at last allowed me to see them in ~April 2003, first DVD purchase). The programmer retrospective comments were intriguing, and make considerable sense. I do remember getting the game and being somewhat crushed, at least in part because the Ocean Batman had been so affine to the atmospherics of that film. And the t-shirt was substantially too big, and not all that helpful in the 1992 winter in Melbourne (I think it was a t-shirt, though perhaps with a lesser thread count than the legendary SoTB t-shirt).

    Certainly the digitized video seemed fairly rudimentary even at the time, but I must admit I found it fascinating to see any facsimile of video on a monitor – and the palette choices sort of preserved a vague sense of the scenes being captured.

    T-2 never seemed to get quite the 2d or multi-genre port the film’s narrative would naturally conform to. There was the Megadrive T-1 (delightful animation from memory), the T-2 arcade (enjoyable), but never that Alien 3, or perhaps better still, Super Star Wars / Indiana Jones Greatest Adventure hybrid platform / pseudo-3d type translation.

    Many thanks for such a thorough appraisal and review, it was gripping, and not the sort of title that normally gets much by way of attention.
    Roly

  • January 17, 2019 at 4:06 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks. Very glad to hear you enjoyed it. 🙂 I didn’t think there would be enough to say when I started. Yes, people tend to dismiss this entry in the T2 collection on the grounds that it’s awful, but I think games can be interesting as well as awful, especially if they relate to a movie you love. Without that connection I’m sure it would have been forgotten long ago, or never made in the first place.

    I thought I’d throw in some scenes from the extended cut to see if people would do a double-take, telling themselves that didn’t happen in the movie they remember. The extra footage is a real mixed bag in my opinion. Some scenes really expand on the character development where it was a bit thin in the theatrical release. Elsewhere I can see why the segments were dropped. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to see it all either way though. Cameron and co. did a great job fleshing out the follow-up releases with extras for the fans.

    What surprised me about Ricardo’s comments was the part about licensed games selling regardless of how good the game turned out to be. While that’s true I don’t think it should be any kind of impediment to doing the best you can with the material. If anything it should encourage you to break the mould and create something people remember for the *right* reasons. As you say, Batman is a great example, and it’s not much more complex a game than T2 structurally speaking, just a lot more fun. Time would have been in short supply there too. Plenty of people will buy anything with a big name franchise attached, but positive reviews from the critics will always boost sales even further. It shouldn’t just be about the bottom line either – reputation was at stake and that can make the difference between you securing your next contract and being passed over.

    I played the Operation Wolf style T2 game for the Amiga a long time ago, though none of the console iterations so I should really look into how they compare.

  • January 18, 2019 at 10:27 pm
    Permalink

    Another great piece, DK. I really enjoyed the behind the scenes stuff here…if really gives a person a new perspective on game development when you get the full story on how a game becomes a game, and you can clearly why some games fail. I was a big T2 fan, and i’ll admit I’ve not really liked ANY of the games made from it.

  • January 21, 2019 at 9:13 am
    Permalink

    Cheers. Forcing myself to watch T2 again for the 10th time wasn’t much of a chore. 😀 The EAB thread I pulled those quotes from is a real treasure trove of info on Ricardo’s other games too. I wanted to include some comments from Kevin too, but couldn’t find any old interviews that mentioned T2, and since he passed away 8 years ago he’s not going to be answering any questions about it today. 🙁

Leave a Reply