Remember the days when you had to type commands into MS-DOS in order to launch the latest video game? Most often it was a straight choice between Hopper or Pac-Man, or a football management game which involved no interaction from the player whatsoever other than to hit the space button which shifted you to the next set of results. No? Well, let me tell you, somehow it still all managed to be gloriously exciting…
Anyway, it wasn’t quite that long ago, but not long after that, that a company called Nintendo launched something called a Nintendo Entertainment System, and before you knew it every household in Britain with kids above the age of 10 had one of these ugly little grey boxes plugged into their telly. The NES, as it would forevermore be known, put an end to needing a degree in HTML coding to launch a game and parents around the world breathed a collective sign of relief as their children were finally able to activate their video games without mum or dad’s assistance every time… All they had to do was lift the flap, press the button, pull the big grey cartridge out and put a different one in.
Glorious memories indeed, but dig a little deeper and… my gosh, have you actually seen some of those graphics recently? It seems that back then our little minds coped quite happily with shapes and colours that have no name or place in the real world. Our expectations were understandably low. We knew no better. We still had our innocence. After all, this was an era where Arnold Schwarzenegger films were being thrust on us almost daily! Be it action, comedy or thriller, it didn’t matter to Arnie, he’d take the pay check. Dress him up as a woman or give him a gun and sunglasses, it didn’t matter – we’d watch it.
But whats the connection between the ex-terminating, ex-governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the NES? Well, almost every one of those duff films ended up as an even worse NES game. Some of the worst of the worst. And I’m here to tell you just how bad they were. And I mean bad even in a time when all games were bad. These are really bad.
Based on the film of the same title, this was another below par effort from the guys at Nintendo (see Arnie mid-jumpy kicky thing above…), but some forgiveness must be granted since it was way back in 1987. In this simplistic adventure Arnold struts around looking a lot like Freddie Mercury on a backdrop of dim and grim colours. Again, the game scores fairly highly for box art but not so much for game play… A hugely popular series in general, though, with Predator merchandise a huge seller throughout the late 80s and 90s which then reached a new high with the launch of Alien v Predator and all that went with it.
Terminator 2 – Judgment Day (1991)
To be fair, the game follows the film plot fairly convincingly of a mother and son trying to flee the rather questionable affections of a Terminator and the game was certainly popular on the NES and a big hit in arcades around the world, too. How much of that was down to the game and how much was down to a rapidly growing franchise which has gone on to represent everything from t-shirts and and board games (yes, really), to figurines (these proved to be a hit in the 80’s), and
even casino games hosted by iGaming operators.
Conan: The Mysteries Of Time. (1991)
In 1991, nine years after the success of the film, Nintendo went to market with Conan: The Mysteries Of Time. It didn’t go down particularly well with reviewers and they used some pretty casual language to describe its drab graphics (see Conan deep in conversation with a skeleton below) and uninteresting game play. Still, on the plus side, the packaging looked great and the Conan name lives on in a big way through board games, apps, slot machines and figurines.
Total Recall (1990)
A pretty decent film this time and, in 1990, developed by Interplay and reaching the lofty levels of number 2 in the charts behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the NES game was launched… The typical platform gameplay was underwhelming yet again but the cheesy picture of Arnieis worth the money alone.
Last Action Hero (1993)
Fast forward to 1993 and another Arnie video game that received a lukewarm appraisal from the lion’s share of the general public. Just like the film, no one rushed out to buy it and it’s easy to see why. Despite the fact that, unlike many, the game follows the general gist of the film plot, the NES version didn’t feature any of the car chases like the other versions did and that was a considered a big disappointment to its potential NES fans. Oh, and it was just generally naff.