LJN Brings The Terminator To The Nintendo
Where do video games come from? More importantly, where do creative ideas for video games come from? Some of them come from the movies. And one of the biggest video game companies has taken this idea of using movies as a basis for their games and have released a number of popular NES game titles based on blockbuster motion pictures. Beetlejuice, Bill & Teds Excellent Adventure, Back to the Future and Total Recall are just some of the games that Acclaim/LJN have converted into Nintendo games from those movie counterparts. Acclaim/LJN are now busy at work with another movie to game conversion with possibly one of the most expensive, action packed pictures to corns from Hollywood: Terminator 2!
I'll Be Back...
Terminator 2 continues the story of a desolate future where machines rule the earth and hunt down any human who gets in their way. As explained in the first Terminator movie, a savior named John Connor has the power to destroy the rule of machines and set the enslaved, continually massacred human race free. However, the machines are aware of this possibility and have developed a time machine to send a robot, known as a Terminator, back in time to eliminate John's mother, Sarah Connor, before she can even give birth to this savior. The first movie was an action packed, gun blasting pyrotechnically filled picture with Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the part of the ruthless, unemotional robot relentlessly tracking Sarah Connor.
The movie ends with the Terminator biting the dust and Sarah Connor being victorious.
Several years have passed since then and the Terminator has become a cult movie favorite, especially popular within the video rental market.
James Cameron, the writer/director of the first picture, recognized this unending interest in his movie along with Carolco, the company producing the Terminator sequel, and are bringing anxious Terminator fans an exciting continuation of the story titled with great plot, non-stop action and wild and very costly special effects. In fact, the film is reportedly going to be one of the most expensive movies ever made, with total costs exceeding the $110 million mark!
As for the actual story, we don't want to spoil it for you. What we can say is that Terminator 2 continues the manhunt for John Connor. In this movie, John is a young boy who is yet unaware of where his destiny lies. This time, two Terminators have been sent back to find him. One of them is there to protect, the other is there to destroy. As with the first, heart pounding high-tension action scenes are present throughout Terminator 2, along with the idea of playing with time travel, mans driving spirit to survive and finally defeat over the machines which he helped create.
Terminator 2: The Video Game
According to Paul Samulski, Vice President of Creative Product Development and Licensing at Acclaim/UN, "We have two major criteria that must be met before we accept a movie license for game conversion, those being the gameplay possibilities offered by the story and the license value and visibility of title. Since the first Terminator movie is such a classic, we knew the license 4 value was there. And after reading the script, our design team was overflowing with ideas for a videogame." Having met those two important needs, Acclaim/LJN acquired the rights from Carolco to produce a videogame based on Terminator 2 and went straight to work. "The first item we had to consider of the movie to videogame treatment was which scenes should be in the game and which scenes had to be dropped. We decided that a Nintendo gamer would find more play value in the action and driving sequences in the movie as opposed to the scenes containing heavy dialog, so we began designing a large portion of the game around those two aspects." Paul continued to point out that it was important for Acclaim/LJN to be careful not to upset the flow of the picture. "We want the player to enjoy the game as much as they enjoyed the movie, as if they were the movie characters themselves. It was important to prevent fragmentation of the storyline so that the game follows the movie as closely as possible. Because of this, the ending in the videogame is the same as the ending of the movie (if you can get there), and we think game players will be completely satisfied with the way we've integrated that aspect into our Terminator 2 game."
Acclaim/LJN is quick to point out that there will be a few surprises in the game as well. In fact, the GameBoy version of the Terminator 2 will be based on one portion of the movie that goes on a tangent from that idea. Paul explained that it was important not to simply repeat what already exists on the NES version. "We feel that GameBoy owners are also NES owners and rather than give them the exact same game that they own for their NES, we are creating a whole new Terminator 2 game for GameBoy players."
Movie Treatment Considerations
After determining which scenes would be ideal for entertaining game play, Acclaim/LJN then had to decide which portions of their ideas could be successfully translated into the 8-bit NES brain.
Paul explains, "With all of our game ideas, we start off big and then shrink it down. This gives us a healthy approach to keeping the game as full as possible while giving our programming staff a real challenge to include all of our ideas. Of course, we have a limited number of sprites and colors on the NES so we have to make decisions regarding styles of action and color palettes to work with. To this end, Acclaim/LJN assures EGM that they will maximize the potential of the 8-bit system, which they feel still has quite a lot to offer players. Also, the NES 8-bit hardware is effective at horizontal scrolling and first person perspectives and luckily, those are the requirements we intended the Terminator 2 game to encompass."
Another difficult decision for any NES game producer to make is who they intend their target audience to be. If the game is designed with younger players in mind, it would be a cake walk for more experienced joystick jockeys. And if the game were made for the seasoned gamer, the younger crowd would not enjoy the frustration associated with intense high level game play. One solution to this problem is to include a number of subtleties which may not be noticed by less experienced players but will be appreciated by advanced gamers. Parallax scrolling effects, additional bits of animation, layered backgrounds and the like are all design tricks incorporated especially for the older NES players.
Still, as 16-bit videogame systems like the Genesis and Super NES gain popularity and acceptance among both videogame companies and videogame players alike, simple graphics and gameplay will not be sought after.
Realizing this, Acclaim/LJN intend to support the new Super NES as strongly as they have the Nintendo 8-bit system, and though it is too early to confirm, Paul says they are considering the Terminator 2 game as one of Acclaim/LJN's early Super NES releases.
A Window In Time...
With the release of the Terminator 2 in mid-July, Acclaim/LJN hope to capture the fans attention with their game release following shortly after the movie. Acclaim/LJN feel that unlike other movie licenses, the Terminator will, unlike other movie tie-ins, remain fresh in people's minds long after they've seen the movie. Depending on the success of the film and the videogame, Acclaim/LJN may even bring the game to the home computer gaming market! If this were done, Paul assures EGM that the game ideas that were not possible with the 8-bit system would be fully realized on the home computer.
Speaking of computer versions, Bethesda Software has already converted the original Terminator movie into a computer game. Read our sister publication, Computer Game Review, for a look at the exclusive photos we've obtained from that game!
The design team at Acclaim/LJN responsible for the Terminator 2 video game is working round the clock to finish the game in time for an early August release. From what we've seen so far, it looks like Acclaim/LJN may have a winner on their hands!