Name: T2: The Arcade Game
Developer: Probe Software
Released on: SNES
Original Release Date: 1993
Do you remember where you were when you watched Terminator 2: Judgement Day? Arnie’s 1991 sequel delivered a phenomenal special effects-laden flick that to this day is one of the most exciting movies ever made. It had Arnie at the peak of his abilities as a box office draw, Robert Patrick as a mechanical adversary that’s even more frightening than Arnie’s original Terminator, and some of cinema’s most intense action scenes.
T2: Judgement Day was everywhere, whether you were legally old enough to watch the movie or not. As was the case with many similar movie franchises, toys were made and of course, there were video games – Multiple versions on multiple systems in fact. While there were more traditional action-based titles based on the movie, this week we are looking at a port of the most notable release – T2: The Arcade game. Or, more specifically, the Super Scope-supported Super Nintendo port of Midway’s gun shooter.
This is one of those games that takes minor liberties with the movie’s plot, as levels jump between the apocalyptic 2029 future and the early 90’s modern-day setting. You (and even a friend if they want to) are a series 800 model T-101 android, fighting alongside the human resistance in the future, while also helping to save John Connor’s younger self in the 1990’s. Over the course of seven missions, you’ll have to complete missions such as saving human resistance refugees, destroying Cyberdyne’s research lab, and of course fighting off the persistent T-1000 model.
Midway really pushed the boat out on this arcade release, with their trademark digitised characters as seen in Pitfighter and Mortal Kombat – And interestingly enough, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert Patrick and Eddie Furlong all reprise their roles in this very game in likeness and audio. Meanwhile, this Super Nintendo version successfully translates pretty much everything that made the arcade version a crowd pleaser. The presentation is much closer to the Arcade original than other ports – It looks and sounds pretty damn good, overall.
Of course, the reason I’m even reviewing this game in the first place is that it supports the Super Nintendo Super Scope peripheral. Interestingly enough, the game’s manual suggests you don’t use the scope, and instead use the on-screen sight to fire. This sight appears when holding down the fire button and moves around as you fire – Which works for the most part but can be a problem in some areas that require you to be a little more accurate to avoid friendly fire. It is possible to use the scope, by holding down the fire button and pressing the Red button on the Super Scope – This brings up a calibration target and allows you to use the scope. However, as the manual admits, it comes with the caveat of not being able to target certain areas of the screen, which is a pain as enemies can appear anyway.
But the biggest problem with the Super Scope support, is that using it turns the entire screen into these horrible shades of pinks, purples and blues. The Super Scope does not see red light, so these changes have to be made to the game’s visuals to allow for targeting. Sure, using the Super Scope works relatively well, and it is quite fun – But it can be a bit of a pain at times, as some of the smaller targets, especially on bosses, can be difficult to target.
Meanwhile, you can, of course, use a standard controller to move an onscreen sight around the screen, and fire bullets or your secondary weapon as necessary. The sight moves quite quickly, which is great when trying to reach the other side of the screen, but not so much when trying to make small movements. Still, it does work and is a perfectly valid way to play.
However, it may surprise you to learn that the best control method for playing this lightgun shooter is the humble Super Nintendo Mouse. Yeah, I know, right? You only need two buttons to play this game, and moving your sight around with a mouse allows you to be as accurate or as speedy as you need to be. Plus, all the colours are as they should be. So, yeah – While I’m reviewing this game as a Super Scope title, the Super Nintendo Mouse is clearly where it’s at for this game.
It’s good to have the choice, really, as there’s a lot going on here. You’ll be firing at hordes of enemies, and they’re not all your typical Terminators either (although you really will be turning a lot of them into scrap metal). Going back to the idea of being a little loose with the license, you’ll be shooting at robot snakes, weird flying pods, and the occasional scientist who throws corrosive chemicals at you. Oh, and screen-filling bosses that are big and frightening enough to make you cack yourself. And I haven’t even mentioned the big bad T-1000, although if I’m being honest, while there is a cool section where you have to knock him down and freeze him with liquid nitrogen, he’s the easiest boss in the whole game.
Not that it’s all plain sailing, because there are levels in this game that can be ridiculously tricky, like this area where you’re escorting John Connor’s pickup over a battlefield, protecting it from deadly Hunter Killer Aerial vehicles, and absolutely blinging gold Terminator exoskeletons. Or this one where you’re protecting a SWAT van carrying Sarah and John Connor, from a helicopter and truck. If these friendly vehicles blow up from your ineptitude, you’re losing a credit and starting from the very beginning and it can be frustrating.
There’s also this pretty cool Cyberdyne level, where like the movie you need to destroy all traces of Skynet research from the building so that the deadly AI defence system is never built and Judgement Day doesn’t happen. You’ll get a running target of how many items are left to destroy (and you really do need to destroy absolutely everything), and this defines which of the game’s endings you’ll get (although in this port it only really changes the text and the colour of John Connor’s picture).
I can’t help but criticise the pace of this game. Being an arcade port, you can, of course, finish the game in just over half an hour, but there are way too many areas where the screen stops scrolling and you have to battle so many enemies before the level carries on. It really breaks the pace in a big way, and you also have to pace your shooting as there is no reload ability – Your gun overheats the more you hold the fire button down, and the more you overheat it, the lower your fire rate. You have to be tactical about letting go of the fire button and letting the gauge fill up again, but that also puts you in the very likely risk of being shot at by all and sundry – Especially since enemies are pretty much locked into you as soon as they fire, draining your health bar like Arnie downs protein shakes.