SNES A Day 180: The Terminator


Approximate Release Month: April 1993
Genre: Action
Developer: Mindscape
Publisher: Mindscape

The Terminator is a worst-case example of how attempting realistic graphics on the Super Nintendo could backfire.

The graphics are not only muddy, but also distractingly dark. Check out the first level:

The Terminator insert
Who turned off the lights?

This is unpleasant to look at for many reasons. Almost everything on screen in The Terminator‘s first level is either black or some shade of dark blue except the player character and the terminator bad guys. I get that the developers were going for a post-apocalyptic night thing, but it just doesn’t work. The second level takes place in the present day and still suffers from muted colors. Games can be dark and not be so drab!

That’s really the worst thing about The Terminator. For a game that is so clearly aping the Contra series of games, there’s a shocking amount of fairness in the difficulty level. Sure, enemies will often start shooting at you the moment they clip into the frame, but you’re given an absurd eight hits before you die. Eight! Contra III: The Alien Wars gives you only one!

I found that the key for success, and this isn’t the most exciting way to play what should be an action-packed run-and-gun, is to hold down the fire button. move forward a bit, and immediately stop and duck in case an enemy starts firing at you. If nothing is shooting, repeat the process. The Terminator gives you a good supply of grenades in the level, but they seem ineffective against terminators. I exclusively used them against the worm robots on the ground in the first level since you can’t kill them otherwise. Not being able to shoot down is an annoying omission in a game that likes to put enemies below you.

Boredom set in very quickly for me. There isn’t much meat here. The Terminator isn’t a game worth playing, even if the superior Contra III – or even GunForce, for crying out loud! – weren’t available on the platform. It exceeded my rock-bottom expectations, which is a win, I guess.

Next week: As a huge fan of the show, I remember renting Tom & Jerry multiple times as a child. I’m sure it holds up.

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