Review: “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (ZX Spectrum)

terminator 2 title


DUN-DUN DUN DUN-DUN. DUN-DUN DUN DUN-DUN.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

For anyone who has seen either of the first couple of Terminator films, you will be able to relate to the above, if not, I promise I haven’t gone (any more) mental. It is the iconic drum beat of the films’ theme tune. Just thought I’d get everyone in the mood for the review you’re about to (hopefully) read in the next few paragraphs. That said I hope these ramblings haven’t put you off.

One of the biggest films ever, Terminator 2, comes to the Spectrum! A lot of anticipation, hype (and high price, I might add) came along with this game so expectations were big. You could tell it was a big release – huge film, it came in a box (yes, an actual box! A sure way to show everyone you meant business, and another reason to hike up the price, I might add), 128K only (another way to get you excited), and released by Ocean Software, who gave us the massive movie tie-ins – Robocop, Batman the Movie, The Untouchables… the game had a lot to live up to.

t2 box art

A special limited edition free T2 Badge, you say? (Image via Moby Games)

The game itself featured 3 different styles of play. A one-on-one fisticuffs with the T1000, a chase scene whether on a bike or in a truck and then a few puzzles thrown in to break the game up a bit. Repeat to fade.

What do you expect to see or hear when the games loads? The iconic Terminator tune, of course! (see the first line of this review) But what do you get? Well, kind of the Terminator tune but it’s just not right. The drums are a bit off and the rest of the tune doesn’t kick in at all. Much disappointment on this part as I was really looking forward to how well the Speccy would deal with that tune but it just sort of patters along without actually going anywhere. Not the best first impression, but it’s not all about the music, surely? Surely gameplay is the most important? You’re probably right (assuming you agreed with that last statement) so let’s get on with actual game. (I’m still sad about the music by the way).

Terminator2-JudgementDay

Where are the mall cops!?
(Image via World of Spectrum)

The first level sees you one-on-one with the T1000 at the shopping mall where you have to punch, headbutt and kick the bugger until he runs out of energy, whilst at the same time trying to avoid his pointy finger which keeps getting you in the eye, and his stretchy head (which is cheating, if you ask me) which will more than happily headbutt you repeatedly to the ground. Movement is very slow and you can only shuffle across to get closer to the T1000 to lay on some pain but this commonly leads to be on the receiving end of a poking (oo-er!) as moving away is pretty slow too. It feels like you are wearing lead boots given how slow you move (you have got metal feet, I guess) but I suppose you could see this as a challenge having to time your movements, but I think in the everlasting battle of challenge vs frustration, the latter may win this battle. That said, the animation is pretty fluid (well, one of them is liquid metal – I’ll stop soon, honest) and slick, only let down by the slow pace.

First level complete? No? You’ll get there soon, honestly.

Terminator 2 Level 2

ok what’s the cheat
Image via (speccy.info)

Let’s move onto the second level. You’re still Arnie, but this time you’re on your trusty bike with John Connor in tow. Well he’s on your bike aswell, not being towed, and being chased by the T1000 in his truck. It’s now a top-down scroller as you ride your way along the storm drain avoiding obstacles such as tyres, abandoned cars and of course the T1000. There are bonuses to collect along the way which will increase your energy and give you extra points too. Quite a tricky level in all honesty, unless of course you were familiar with the “tip” (cheat) which was printed in Your Sinclair I think, where you could whizz past this level every time. I’m not going to mention it here in case you want to play it yourself but if you already know it – you know you did this every time! (I did). It was good to know this tip (cheat) so you could get past the level with relative ease as it could get frustrating trying to complete it without John dying on you (why is it always the way that your accomplices never seem to help themselves on these games?!) but I guess if you’re hardcore, you’ll want to complete it properly. Quite a neat level with regards to the scrolling, no jerkiness at all and a very smooth ‘ride’ as it were.

Done it, yet? No? Need the tip (cheat) that will help you out? Of course you don’t! Keep trying!

Terminator_2_Level_3

wiggle wiggle!
Image via (speccy.info)


We then move on to the first of the puzzle levels and here’s where you have to fix the T-800’s metal arm. Some good detailed graphics on this level as you are met with Arnie’s hand and arm which has been damaged. The puzzle is set out like one of those little puzzles you get in a Christmas cracker, you know the ones that are square with little tiles that you have to slide around a certain way to make the picture whole. It’s the same premise here (though you can’t cheat by pulling the tiles out and placing them back in again. Damn.) but only there is a 60 second time limit so it puts the pressure on. To help you out, the tendons that you have to re-arrange are also presented underneath and the pieces light up when they’re in the correct position. That’s nice of them! When you get one of the tendons fixed, the corresponding finger will wiggle to show everything is in place, which is nice so when you have four wiggling fingers – you’re on to a winner! I have to point out that this is a bonus level so you don’t have to complete it to move on, though the more you complete the more energy boost you get as you move on to the next level.

No tips (cheats) for this level unfortunately, so you’re on your own! Let’s move on!

You’ve fixed your arm (possibly) and now it’s time to get another beating from the bent copper, otherwise known as the T1000. Again, it’s the same setup as the first level though this time you’re at the hospital to rescue Sarah Connor. The fight is the same, just a slightly different background, so again you are at the mercy of the ‘legs in concrete’ movement that the game designers thought would be a good idea. Hmm…

T2 Bonus Level

Extreme Makeover!
Image via (youtube)

It’s puzzle time again! This time we are faced with the task of reconstructing Arnie’s face (rather you than me, I heard he’s quite hard). Again, not bad graphics on this one, aside from the red and yellow face (but that’s what we Speccy fans love. Right, Spec-chums?) You also get the odd little blink from the other eye whilst you’re poking around in his damaged eye, which is a nice touch. Again, this is another bonus level so failure won’t see your game end but it is a chance to gain some more energy for the next level.

“Here I am, on the road again” as Bob Seger once put it which nicely moves us on to the next level and that dastardly liquid-metal Rozzer is still after you (won’t he just give up!?) and this time he’s in a helicopter whilst you try to make your getaway in a stolen police van.

terminator 2 judgment day level 6

Get to the chopper! .. no wait, wrong movie .. get away from the chopper!!
Image via (moby games)

The difference this time is that, he’s in a helicopter (which I think I mentioned just now… yep, just checked. I definitely did) and you have Sarah Connor to protect (oh dear.. another accomplice to help die) but also you can now (and it’s probably best to) shoot the T1000’s helicopter to try and bring him to his fiery death. Well, I say death but you know he won’t die, the little tyke. You are now also in control of some crosshairs to shoot the chopper down, whilst also steering the truck to avoid other cars on the road. A little trickier this time due to having more things to control but also this time he shoots back, so you have to keep a close eye on Sarah’s energy or it’s game over. Oh, I think I forgot to mention that you only get one life in this game. Should have mentioned that earlier I guess. Oops. Moving on…

This is it. The big finale. What do we get to finish off this mammoth, epic, blockbuster game? That’s right, another one on one with the T1000! (didn’t see that coming, eh?) Only this time to mix it up, it’s set behind a different background. Oh, hang on, that was done earlier wasn’t it? Hmm… so not much more to say than you have to do the same again as you did in the first level and level four. They really pushed the boat on this and fully justified the high price of the game (not bitter). So, you finally lay that final blow on the metal menace and then, you’ve done it. He’s finally gone, and what do you get for your efforts? What amazing finale do you get for completing this game? Actually, not a bad little screen grab from the film of the final scene where the T1000 explodes and his head sort of goes behind his back. It’s a bit blocky, red and yellow but you can make it out I guess.

I remember picking up this game a little after it was released and it was around my birthday and I told myself this game is going to be mine! No matter what, it was going to be mine. I gathered my birthday money and went into town. I head straight into Virgin Megastore (remember those? This is when they were good too!) and head straight to the Spectrum chart, and there it was in all its glory (and box). I picked it up and held it in my hands… £11.99!!! £11.99!! Wow! Did I really want to pay that for one game? I loved the film and really, really wanted this game. Would it be worth it? Shall I go and pick up 4 for £10 instead? No, it was my destiny. I’d waited so long for this moment. So I went to the till and handed over the cash. I remember reading the booklet on the way home on the bus (which was in a little plastic Ocean bag along with game – woo!) and then I finally got home.

When I finally got to load it up and play it, was I disappointed? Initially yes, due to the lack of Terminator music (see above) but when I got over that and played the first level I was somewhat appeased as I got to kick and punch things and after a few weeks I managed to complete it.

I think this one of those games that when you look back to when you first played it, you remember it fondly but when you play it in present day, well, you see it differently. It is a bit of a lazy effort with the repetition of levels, minimal sound and relative ease when you get the hang of it. There a few nice touches, nice animation on some parts, vivid graphics, nice looking energy bar which is the face of the character that gradually depletes along with your energy to reveal either your metal or human skeleton underneath (it’s especially funny when Arnie loses half energy to reveal what look like psycho eyes – have a look and I dare you not to snigger).

Overall, it could have been a better game (especially for the price – sorry, I’ll stop now) but if you fancy a nostalgia trip, give it a go. Just don’t pay £11.99 for it. (sorry)