Review by Psycho Penguin

"So much wasted opportunity."

Predator is one of my all time favorite movies. Featuring a group of tough army soldiers sent to a Central American jungle to kill Colombian drug smugglers and who then proceed to run into a huge problem not of this earth, it was an incredibly fun and action-packed movie. It also featured one of my favorite enemies ever, The Predator, who was just too bad ass for words to describe. When I heard there was a NES game for it recently, I was estatic. Finally, I could get a chance to play one of my all time favorite movies in video game format.

I should have remembered the old rule about movie-based video games. They all suck. Predator is sort of the exception, since the game has good points, but for the most part it's a shallow representation of a movie that deserved anything but.

The game is so unlike anything in the movie, I'm amazed anyone gave it the greenlight. At least Robocop had something to do with the movie. The guy in this game looks nothing like Arnold, and he just goes from level to level making stupid platform jumps and killing stupid enemies with stupid weapons. This is so unlike the movie, and I have no clue why they bothered to make this game, unless it was for money, then I completely understand.

Anyways, my dream Predator game would totally follow the movie from beginning to end. This paragraph has Predator movie spoilers, to a certain extent, so read the next paragraph on if you do not want the movie spoiled. I would start by having a few levels with Arnold getting to the warehouse. Have it so you and your buddies can switch back and forth, like in TMNT, each with their own power bar, etc. At the end of these levels, have one of your buddies gunned down. Spend the next few stages trying to hunt down the true killer, until only Arnold is left, and he meets The Predator for the first time. Have him spend the next few stages setting up traps for the Predator, and have the conclusion be an epic battle of wills, forcing you to lure The Predator into your trap.

There, doesn't that sound like a terrific premise for a Predator game that actually makes sense and fits in with the movie? Sadly, the company that made this game (I'm not even going to dignify them with a name here) decided to just make it another average platform game with lots of jumps, enemies, and weapons. That's fine, and the game is pretty decent, but it's PREDATOR for christs sake. Now I can finally see how fans of the movie Total Recall felt when they played the game, because that game is actually far worse than this.

Anyways, I should describe the game now, huh? You go from level to level (THIRTY in all, that’s right, THIRTY levels), finding weapons, killing enemies, and jumping. And more jumping. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a platform game with as much jumping as Predator features. Several levels are devoted solely to making one crazy jump after another. Some of these include little blocks featured one after another, in which you die if you miss. It’s not exactly the most fun challenges ever, but it’s at least challenging.

The levels are out of place in a Predator game, as you may expect. I don’t see where he went into caves and fought bubbles in the movie, but maybe I was passed out drunk during those parts, I don’t know. I’ve only seen the movie six times, you know. The enemies also act retarded, as they will allow you to walk on top of them, and most of them will just run right off the platforms, so the majority of the game involves you letting enemies run off the platform, and walking on top of their heads for a few seconds.

The game has tons of levels, so the developers were nice enough to throw these “up-down” view stages sometimes, which have you in the 1st-person view. The point eludes me, as you make a series of platform jumps and kill stupid bubbles. So, the point of these stages were to make the game seem more refreshing and varied, and it’s really just the same stages in a different view. Nice job, buddies.

Also, the weapons get frustrating. You can only use one weapon at a time, so switching is out of the question. Most of the weapons have weak power and short range. The machine gun fires about as slow as it does in Contra. Sometimes, it’s better just to use your fists, but it’s retarded how you cannot duck and punch at the same time. Was Arnold not blessed with the necessary talents needed to do two things at once or something? Also, it takes one punch and two shots to take out some enemies in the game. Figure that one out.

The game happens to be one of the glitchiest I have ever played, too. Why do I randomly die from time to time? I fall from holes in floors that weren’t there before. I stand for one second in a place I stood for one second before and I get warped two stages ahead. Bullets go right through enemies. I get trapped in a place with no walls. I cannot fathom how a game with so many glitches got by Nintendo, but I guess they were too busy re-programming Doki Doki Panic or something.

The final thing I cannot understand is how the only boss is Predator, and you have to face him about six times. If you would like to explain this to me, please email me at the address on my contributor page and hook a brother up, because it completely confuses me to this day.

Fortunately, the game is not that bad. I just like to rant on it because it’s different, but it has its merits. Arnold has a lot of life on his life bar, which is important because the enemies will hit you A LOT. So, lots of life is a good thing. The levels can be fun if you allow them to be. The game is nice and challenging, which is definitely a good thing, and the levels are of perfect length. So, it’s not a horrible game, it’s just not as good as it could be.

Sadly, the controls are not up to par with the type of game it’s meant to be. For a game with tons of platform jumping, the controls suffer from a lack of precision. You will jump, but Arnold can jump REALLY long and can’t jump high at all, so judging where you will land when you jump is a dicey situation. You will die several times based off the controls alone. So, while they’re not actually horrible or anything, you will get frustrated by them from time to time, but a lot of NES games suffer from this problem anyways.

The game looks like crap, too. It’s not the worst looking game, but I was sorely disappointed. Most of the backgrounds are plain black with meager designs thrown in to make it appear to be detailed, but the lack of true detail is evident if you spend more than 2 seconds looking at them. Also, most of the enemies just look the same, and there is very little innovation. Arnold also looks extremely fruity. I don’t remember him being a little guy in pink in the movie. Why he is wearing pink in the game is beyond me. It’s not even creative.

The music is kind of good, though. I love the variety of music in the game, and some of the music sounds extremely good. Sure, one of the songs sounds like a direct ripoff of Level 9 in Yo Noid (which is not a bad thing, as Yo Noid has awesome music, so I loved playing through the stages featuring this song), but all the songs are at least competent and won’t get annoying. Well, the song that plays when it shows what level you are on and how many lives you have left IS annoying, but you only have to put up with it for a few seconds.

The game has competent replay value, considering it’s a slightly-below average NES platformer. I think the reason I played this game as much as I did is because it’s Predator. The game is challenging, and has lots of levels, plus warp zones are prevalent, so finding all of them could add to the replay value as well. So, Predator might do a lot of things wrong, but I still found myself strangely attached to it for some reason.

And when I say this game is challenging, I mean CHALLENGING. I got this game five weeks ago, have played almost every day since then, and finally beat it today. There’s 30 levels, and unlimited continues, but you only get to start from a certain level. Every 5 levels is a checkpoint, so if you die at level 9, you start at level 6. If you die at 13, you start at 11. The enemies are placed in strategic places, the jumps are tough, and you will find yourself dying a LOT, so come prepared for a good challenge.

So, there you have it. It’s not a horrible game, but it’s not a good game. It’s simply yet another movie game that could have been so much better. The NES had a ton of these games, and Predator is actually one of the better movie based games, in my opinion. It’s certainly no Total Recall or Robocop, that’s for sure. I just think the game could have been done in 15 stages instead of 30. The fact you face Predator so much is evidence that this game went way longer than it should have.

So, it’s really just a decent little platform game with numerous problems that still manages to be somewhat fun.

It’s too bad Predator deserved better. Much better.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 06/20/03, Updated 06/20/03


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