Review by Megamur

Reviewed: 06/10/01 | Updated: 06/10/01

Arnold in pink....

My story is this. It was the same old thing: ''The movie was cool, so the game must be, too!'' It's probably happened to every video game player at least once in their lifetime, and it happened to me, too.

Predator was one of my favorite movies (not THE favorite, but one of those ''It's on TV tonight, so I'm going to watch it, regardless of what else is on'' things), and, being as young as I was, I thought that a game of it would be totally neat. So, I gave it a rental.

That was a long time ago, and I've since forgotten what my first impression of the game was (lost in a sea of Pictionary, Pac-Mania, and Super C), but, I must've been at least slightly impressed, for I bought the game a few years later.

The day before this writing, I beat the game for the first time. For the first time...yesterday! This, pretty much, ancient game has kept a small place in my heart for all of these years, but now, I think it's time I finally put it away...and write a review for it.

The story is this. You're Major ''Dutch'' Schaefer. American troops have been taken hostage by enemy guerillas in the South American jungles. It's up to you and the rest of your commandos to get in there and rescue them.

After some time, the guerilla's hideout is found. A fierce firefight ensues, and the hideout is destroyed.

Soon after, though, your men are killed, one by one, by an unknown creature. This creature is more powerful than anything on Earth...because it is not of this planet. It's an alien who's goal in life is to hunt and kill prey.

...And you're it's prey now, Major.

It's up to you to battle this thing alone, and hopefully not end up being it's trophy in the process....

What is it?- Storylines are nothing without gameplay to back them up. This is what this game is really about.

The game is another 2D platformer, so don't expect innovation here.

You run (and jump...alot) through jungles, caves, and temples in search of the Predator and an escape. Along the way, you'll encounter several annoying enemies that can be disposed of with an assortment of weapons, or your bare fists. After several levels, you'll battle the Predator. Usually, once it's defeated, you'll move onto the next set of levels, and gain a continue point, which you can restart at if you lose all of your lives.

You start each level without a weapon, but you can find weapons floating around to give you a little more power. Each weapon has unlimited ammo. They consist of a Machine Gun (no rapid fire, so it's not much of a Machine Gun), a Laser (best weapon. Can destroy certain walls), and a Grenade (or ''pineapple''. Worst weapon. Can destroy certain walls and is powerful, but hard to use, has a time delay before exploding, and can actually hurt you if you get too close to the explosion).

After a few levels, you'll enter what is called ''Big Mode'', where you guide an extremely large Major Schaefer through a gauntlet of obstacles, ultimately leading to a battle with the Predator.

There's a bunch of weird red and blue bubble things floating around in Big Mode that can be destroyed. Sometimes, they drop weapon upgrades upon being eliminated. I'm not too clear on what they all do, but I have a basic idea. There's the ''III'' weapon (my favorite. Increases the amount of bullets you can fire at a time. Good for those like myself who can tap the fire button really fast), the ''boomerang'' weapon (causes the bullets to arc upward and outward, then return to you, destroying anything in it's path. Pretty useless), the ''dot'' weapon (looks like four little dots in a square formation. Causes your gun to fire in a wave pattern), and the ''X'' weapon (causes your weapon to fire a thick, slow-moving bullet. If it strikes a target, all on-screen targets are damaged). If you keep collecting the same weapon over and over, it will increase it's power.

There are no ''points'' in this game, so you can't gain extra lives the old-fashioned way. The only way to gain lives is to find little ''1-up'' icons floating around. These are extremely rare, so don't expect to snatch up a bunch of these.

Losing lives is no rarity, though. This action can be easily performed by getting hit by enemies and their projectiles until your life meter is emptied, or, the more common way of falling into a deep, bottomless pit. This will happen a discouraging number of times.

Still, before you bite the dust, there's life-restoring items that you can snatch to increase your chances of survival; the ''L'' icons. They come in two sizes: small (a reddish square. Restores a small portion of your life meter) and large (a red orb. Restores your health to maximum capacity).

That's what this game is actually about.

Statistics-

Predator is for one player only.

Predator contains thirty levels.

There are multiple viewpoints: 2D side-scrolling, and 2D ''Big Mode''.

There are several weapons, including fists, a Machine Gun, a Laser, and a Grenade.

While there is no save or password function, Predator does feature unlimited continues.

Predator is not designed for the Nintendo Zapper or other peripherals.

Now, I present to you the actual review! (finally....)

Graphics- Certainly nothing eye-popping here. It's all pretty average stuff.

The backgrounds aren't too bad. They can look a little nice from time to time, but in many instances, there's just alot of black. They also lack animation, which is a total bummer.

Much like in Metroid II, there's an awesome variety of stones to look at, of all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Yay. At least I can tell that they're stones. That's some sign of quality.

The character graphics fare the same; average. They're somewhat detailed, enough that you can recognize what things are (usually), but they could use a little work. I'll never understand why Major Schaefer wears pink, though....

The animation, like everything else, is average. There's about seven animation frames for the main character and usually around 1-3 for the enemies. Yawn.

Things change in ''Big Mode'', though. This is some gimmicky thing where your character becomes immensely large, and you must fight off hordes of bloodthirsty mutant...bubbles?

The graphics are simply wretched in Big Mode. There is no background except for the rocks that you walk on and the floating rock platforms (more rocks! Yay...). Everything else is either black or purple or blue, etc.

The character graphics are only a little bit better. You can recognize the Major (although he looks very little like the guy in the movie), and the bubbles certainly look like...well, bubbles. The Predator isn't too bad looking, though...when you can actually see him. He must've been out in the sun too long, for now he is a nice golden brown.

The animation is on the crappy side. Major Schaefer actually has a better running animation than before...but, oddly enough, he never stops running, even when he's not moving.

The bubbles don't animate at all, except when you kill them, which causes them to generate a tiny explosion. Awesome....

The Predator is also lacking in this category, as he really doesn't animate at all. He just appears, floats around a bit, and disappears. Wow....

Overall, Big Mode looks like a slightly enhanced Atari game.

The graphics aren't a pain to look at, but, you wouldn't want to, really. They're okay, but not spectacular. Probably the best graphics in the game are the digitized pictures from the movie.

Still...I just want to know why the Major is fighting against an assortment of bubbles and amoebas? What's the deal with that?

Sound- This is a bit of a saving grace for the game.

The sound effects aren't very good. The programmers must've picked just about the worst punching sound in the world. The weapons also sound nothing like you'd expect. The Predator sounds like he's inside one of those little ''Space Tube'' things that you talk through that distort your voice. The only really good part of the sound is the explosions caused by the Grenades. In fact, there's not really alot of sound effects in the game.

The sound goodies lie in the music. There aren't many music tracks to hear, and about four tunes keep getting repeated throughout the whole game. As bad as it sounds, it's bearable because the songs are so good. They create a kind of creepy, spacey atmosphere for the game that the graphics couldn't make alone. They can also be upbeat and quite enjoyable as well. The songs also feature lots of reverberation, which gets major points in my book.

So, there's not alot to listen to, and what's available isn't all that great, but just those few songs make a world of difference...to me, anyway.

Play Control- Unbearably simple. You'll learn them within seconds. A to jump, B to attack, left and right to run left and right, and down to duck. You can shoot while ducking, and can also use Grenades (although ducking while doing so will cause you to set the Grenade down right below you, which also gives it a shorter time delay. Run!), but, oddly enough, you can't punch while ducking (figure that one out...). There's no multidirectional aiming, unfortunately.

Sound good? It is...except for one thing: the jumping. There are many, many death-defying jumps to be made in this game, and the Major is not much of a jumper. He can jump pretty long distances, but it's the short jumps that can be a problem. Mr. Schaefer moves rather quickly, and his jumps feel rather ''floaty'', meaning that he kind of drifts if you move him in mid-jump, making the achievement of a perfect landing a very frustrating experience. The Major also can't jump very high, which leads to more control issues. You'll be fighting with the controls all the way down.

You must be warned of another thing; pressing A, B and Start simultaneously activates the ''suicide'' function. This is exactly what it sounds like. Pull it off, and you lose a life. Why it's available, I don't know (stuck? Don't want to give the enemies the satisfaction of killing you?). Why it's so easy to pull off, I really don't know. Just try not to pause the game while jumping and shooting at the same time, `kay?

Challenge- This game is a tough nut to crack, but far from impossible.

One of the main issues here is the lack of weaponry. You'll be spending an alarming amount of time beating things to death with your fists. This means that you have to get close to enemies...really close...uncomfortably close. This wouldn't be so bad if 1) your punches weren't so weak. 2) the enemy's hit detection weren't so small. 3) if your hit detection wasn't so big. Unfortunately, all of those factors exist, making close combat, which is often the only option, a hazardous experience.

The next challenge factor is the jumping, which I mentioned earlier. The jumps play a huge part in this game, and they are a total pain in the bue-tocks. You'd think practice would make perfect, except for one thing....

When enemies hit you, you get thrown away from them. This makes enemy-infested jumps near impossible, as they can easily stop your mid-air flight, and knock you into oblivion. This also wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that some enemies throw you a little ways, and some just up and TOSS YOU ACROSS THE ROOM.... Well, not that far, but still very far nonetheless. This makes those already painful jumps even worse.

On top of that, some enemies do a heaping helping of damage, and your invincibility doesn't last for long after you get hit. The enemies are also very numerous, and respawn after you kill them. Even worse, a large number of your foes fly, and not being able to shoot upward or downward doesn't help.

THANKFULLY, there's unlimited continues, so you can do that ''try, try, try again'' thing as long as you like, if at first you don't succeed. The enemies also are about as dumb as posts, which helps, too.

While this game can be incredibly difficult and frustrating (and this lasts for thirty levels...ugh), with a lot of time and a LOT of patience, this game can be defeated. Good luck.

Replay Value- Since it's possible to beat the game in one sitting (due to endless continues), and since there's no difficulty settings or different play modes, there's nothing to do after you beat this game. I got through it, and I'll probably never play it again. Why should anyone else?

So, to sum it all up...

Graphics- Very average in all categories. Big Mode looks like an Atari game. Schaefer wears pink.

Sound- Sounds are odd and in small numbers. Music tracks also limited, and repeat often throughout game, but quality is good.

Play Control- Very simple, but making jumps is a trying experience. Suicide function is a bit too easy to pull off.

Challenge- A long, difficult game with lots of jumps and enemies, and few weapons. Unlimited continues alleviate this to some extent.

Replay Value- Beat it once, then you can throw it in a box, never to be seen again, or sell it.

Other Gripes- I think I've griped enough.

Overall- Yes, this is another one of those less-than-adequate movie-to-game translations, but it's one of the more fun ones I've played. Those who are big fans of Predator could pick it up just to say they have it, or players who want a nice challenge could snatch it up and have their wish fulfilled. It may not be very much at all like the movie, but it's still quite enjoyable...and I'll always remember it.

Rent or Buy?- Yes, there are places that rent incredibly old games like this. And, yes, rental is the best option. There's certainly no guarantee that you'll like this game, so give it a spin before you invest.

Other Suggestions- There's no games that are really similar to this one. It's kind of unique. But, due to it's atmosphere alone, I suggest trying Metroid for the NES, or, if you want a game that's more similar to the actual movie, try Contra for the NES.

We all pray that one day, a game worthy of the movie it was based on will be released (and that it will be a good movie in the first place). If you're looking for that game, it's not here. Maybe one day....

That's my two cents.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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