Monday, January 20, 2014

VGR RoboCop Versus The Terminator

The battle for tomorrow has begun... 

Only this time there are two... The War against the Machines begins now, in Delta City!

VGR: RoboCop Versus The Terminator aka RoboCop Vs Terminator
From Virgin Games
Played on Megadrive
Also available on SNES, Game Gear, Master System & Game Boy

Type Sidescrolling action game
Year 1993

Putting RoboCop up against Terminators sounds like such a random idea... that ic actually sounds like it can work.

Proof is, Frank Miller didn't wait a second to score both rights as he began imagining how to put both machines against one another. And he's the man behind a big part of RoboCop's cinematic franchise, so he should know, right?

Loosely based on the 1992 comic of the same name, is an action sidescroller that feels and looks like your typical run-and-gun at the time, but when you actually get down to it as a lot more in common with "bullet hells" shoot 'em up games.

The game was released on several home systems and handled consoles available back then, with the the Megadrive version being the original build of the game running on David Perry's 16-bit engine at Virgin.

RoboCop Versus The Terminator actually follows the plot of the comic to the letter (minus the drama), but is told via drastically different techniques depending on the systems it was released on.

While the SNES port simply had scans of some panels as actual cutscenes between the chapters, albeit in pixelated simplified format, the Megadrive simply tells you the entire plot of the game in the first minute of the game via a pretty long summary screen. It's certainly less appealing but it manages to get the story out so that you can get into the game as soon as possible. But it spoils the entire premise in this narrative and the places you will visit in the first couple of seconds that way...

Based on the four issues mini-series, the story takes place some undefined time after OCP built RoboCop. It was a milestone in computer technology. But while Alex Murphy only purpose is to serve and protect, his invention might cause some unexpected trouble down the line....

You see, the melding between a human brain and computer chips would actually serve as the basis to propel Cyberdyne's Skynet network from simple all overseeing AI to self-aware monstrosity responsible for the war machines would wage on the entire mankind.

In the future members of the Human Resistance found another Time Machine which they used this time to destroy RoboCop. But Skynet sent several Terminators back in time as well to protect Murphy.

The game beings in the streets of Delta City facing some thugs and regular foes at first (and some Resistance soldiers I suppose) before RoboCop faces a Terminator in an alley, while after RoboCain (from the second film).

From that point RoboCop decides to go look for answers at the OCP building. He faces a new ED-209. Murphy is finally connected to Skynet, his human mind inhabiting the Skynet servers launches Judgment Day. The machines take over, allowing the war.

Now in the future, all hope is not lost. Murphy builds himself a new RoboCop body and goes after Skynet's HQ to put a stop for good... Will his cybernetic body and human soul be the different that might bring this dark future to an end?

The SNES release goes into more details regarding John Connor's soldiers sent back in time. But overall, you get to play the same game. Roughly.

RoboCop Versus The Terminator was developed by much of the same guys behind the Earthworm Jim games, which explains the similar gameplay feel, tone and even several sound effects.

The game is about 10 levels long and while it starts pretty much simple it gets rapidly overwhelming.

Enemies attack from all sides, all at the same time, continuously. Though killing them, they won't respawn so you might get some room to breath that way.

RoboCop can shot in several directions and angles, which helps when you have enemies attacking from above, but can be a bit difficult to handle when shooting near your foot.

Your enemies range from normal humans to armies of T-800 Terminators and other flying machines.

To help you out there are 8 radically different guns. The entire gameplay mechanic revolves around the two slots of available space for the weapons you can carry.

They range from RoboCop's regular automatic gun to a flame thrower, laser guns and futuristic  controlled missiles. The regular gun is the less effective so the goal is to update as soon as possible. All your guns have unlimited ammo but they will be switched when you grab a new one.

But beware, when you die you will lose your current gun! So switch it back in case of low health!

The game is really, really difficult though!

Playing in easy will render your enemies simple to avoid and defeat as well as more initial lives, while playing the hardest difficulty will take out your destination's indications.

The levels are huge! And enemies will overwhelm you in numbers almost non-stop.

Each level will end with boss fights. Those are extremely difficult simple because of how many hits they require... which necessitate being careful, having patience and precision in your shots. The final boss alone against the head of Skynet (literally!) takes a gazillion hit damages to go down! It's almost as impossibly difficult as it looks ridiculous.

Some levels will have secondary objectives like helping hostages or destroying OCP cameras. That will mostly grant you more score, so no need to take those too seriously, it will only result in death.

The game looks great, and sounds great!

The music keeps pumping you up with its rapid 16-bit style beats. And the game looks dark and bloody.

The music was actually composed by the legendary Tommy Tallarico for this original version of the game.

Speaking of which it's also probably one of the goriest games I've seen on a system back then, even Splatterhouse has nothing on this!

Overall, it's a very fun, very aggressive game, but also quite frustrating.

The difficulty is really hard to manage and it gets awfully frustrating in the future levels.

The game was released on Game Gear, Master System, SNES and Game Boy at the time. A NES port was also planned but scrapped early on.

The Master System was a lot simpler albeit decent for what it aimed for.

The SNES almost looks like an entirely different game at first look. Interplay took entire control over its development. While the Sega versions seemed to borrow a lot from the films, the SNES version instead went for the look of the comic book. Featuring actual panels from its pages, and almost based entirely on the comic book art. The gameplay feels a bit worse here though as it is much slowly paced and a bit more "rigid". The graphics don't look that great (or worthy of the SNES really). The first level actually looks a lot better but after that it goes downhill fast. The spirits even appear less detailed and colored. The game was also censored (obviously, thanks Nintendo!). There are less weapons available and the default gun always takes the first slot, you can only really change the second one. RoboCain was replaced by an ED-209, but there are some new female enemies in the levels instead. Finally, its best redeeming qualities appear to be some first person shooting sequences rendered in mode 7.

All in all, this seems to be a case of a much better executed idea compared to the Dark Horse Comics original mini-series.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Asterixes!

No comments:

Post a Comment