In the top arcade games of my youth, Terminator 2: Judgement Day aka the Terminator arcade game takes a top position just behind Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II: Turbo Edition. It was a mega hit and rightly so, it was freaking awesome. I remember people crowding around the thing when it first came out, especially at the later levels that I’d never ever get to in a real arcade unit.
Here’s why it was great.
The Terminator arcade game was a two player “gun game” that featured incredibly precise control, due to the fact that the guns weren’t shooting beams of light, but rather they moved the on screen target like a mouse moves a mouse pointer.
I was already predisposed to liking gun games of this nature thanks to Operation Wolf, and Terminator 2 was a perfect type of game to feature this kind of player interaction. Walking from left to right beating up or shooting people would have been fine, but for this game it brought a level of cool player immersion by using it’s first person perspective and cool looking guns that featured rumble action.
Midway enjoyed digitizing people and putting them in games, like Mortal Kombat. It really worked well for the Terminator arcade game. Aside from the rather clunky frame rate of characters moving, it was pretty much as close to being in the movie you were going to get. And it was one of those games that you knew the home version was never going to compare. Yep, back in my day the games at the arcade were ten fold better than what you got at home, so you had to play the arcade games for the best graphics (except for Neo Geo and that’s a whole other article).
The look of the game perfectly captured the film, especially in the beginning parts that show the horrible future world. There’s a few enemies that aren’t in the movie that don’t fit in particularly well, but overall it captures the look and feel of the movie very well with it’s graphics.
Another cool aspect of the Terminator arcade game is the digitized audio from the cast of the movie. It adds a bit to the game and was something you didn’t always expect. One of the fun features of the game is if you try to press start when you haven’t put any credits in. Arnold will say, “No way, Jose.”
The Terminator arcade game is not a forgiving game. There’s several missions where you absolutely must do something in order to pass instead of just feeding the game more quarters. The one mission that most people get stuck on is fairly early. The player(s) must protect a truck as it drives across the screen from flying HKs. I can’t even guess how many times I’ve seen that dumb truck explode.
The boss battles are nearly impossible. Near the end instead of just freezing the T1000 like in the film, the player must freeze, shoot, and then freeze it again. It’s pretty tricky. And once you’ve exploded him, you’re still not done (just like in the film). You have to escort John Connor and then fight the T1000 in front of the molten lava. Only after you’ve damaged him enough can you begin pushing him backwards using your secondary weapons (like the shot gun). And EVEN THEN once he’s on the brink you have to get a specific grenade launcher that drops down the screen and you only get one shot. Yikes.
Well, you’d think that this would be too frustating, but rather it gives the Terminator arcade game more replayabilty. Unlike some modern games that you just shove quarters into for 3 minutes and you’re done (see my Star Wars Battle Pod review for more).
The Terminator arcade game is one of the best movie to games made. And easily one of the best Terminator related games. If you happen to somehow see one in the wild give it a play.