Crossovers are a magical thing that seem to work best in the media of video games (okay, comics tend to make it work too). Recently there’s been a slight renaissance in crossover titles in the likes of Marvel vs Capcom 3
, Project X Zone
, or even Professor Layton X Phoenix Wright
, so in honor of that I decided to revisit a classic throw-down from back in the day that was aimed straight at the heart of 80’s action nerds – RoboCop vs The Terminator
RoboCop vs The Terminator
is something that, on paper, should be the ultimate recipe for success. It pits The Terminator, a machine hidden under the appearance of man, against RoboCop, the human hidden under a machine. Terminators break the law in order to complete their objective, RoboCop’s objective is to prevent the law from being broken. It’s amazing that these different sides of the same coin came from two completely different minds in Hollywood, and I don’t think you could find better juxtaposing characters even if you tried.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the people who made this game tried.
RoboCop vs The Terminator (Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo [Reviewed])
Developers: Virgin Games (Sega Genesis), Interplay (SNES)
Publisher: Virgin Games
Release Date: November 3, 1993
RoboCop vs The Terminator
is loosely based on the four-issue comic book series
of the same name that was written by Frank Miller (yes, that
Frank Miller), who also wrote the basic stories for both RoboCop 2
& RoboCop 3
. There are slight differences in how the story is presented from the SNES version to the Genesis version, for clarification everything I’ll talk about here is in regards to the SNES edition.
The story for this title opens up in the future after Skynet’s takeover. A resistance fighter named Flo
discovers that the cybernetics technology used in creating RoboCop becomes one of the foundations for Skynet’s creation (wait what?). Flo decides to travel to the past and destroy RoboCop in Old Detroit, because we can’t have a Terminator plot without some sort of paradoxical time-travel issue being thrown into the mix. Skynet obviously takes issue with anything besides itself trying to re-write history, so it sends a couple of Terminators back in time to stop the resistance. Apparently Skynet finally learned that sending just one Terminator back in time doesn’t work.
I’m going to fully spoil a 20 year old story now)
Meanwhile back in Old Detroit RoboCop is doing his traditional duties, which apparently in this game consist of walking down streets gunning down street thugs & hookers while twirling his comically large (and awesome) hand gun. Eventually Flo confronts RoboCop but is gunned down by the Terminator in a drive by shooting (drive by termination?). As she’s dying Flo tries to explain to RoboCop what’s going on, but for obvious reasons RoboCop doesn’t understand (though, I imagine Prime Directive #3 is screaming at him in his head). RoboCop, after a slight distraction from fighting a faulty ED-209, tracks down the Terminator and blows him the f*ck up, cuz, y’know, the Terminator didn’t get the ”come quietly or there will be trouble”
RoboCop (somehow) finds out that another Terminator has managed to infiltrate the OCP headquarters in Detroit. Since stopping the apocalyptic rise of the robots most likely
falls under the “Serve the public trust” directive, RoboCop goes to stop him. While in the OCP building RoboCop plugs himself into the building’s security system to stop the Terminator but apparently falls into a trap set by the Terminator/Skynet as his mind is digitalized into the system and his body becomes a tool for the rise of Skynet.
RoboCop apparently keeps his sentience while in the computer system and witnesses the rise of Skynet and the fall of humanity (because Alex Murphy’s mind wasn’t already messed up). Sometime in the future (we’ll all safely assume during the John Connor resistance) RoboCop rebuilds himself using an abandoned Terminator factory and decides to take the fight to Skynet, because Skynet clearly didn’t stay out of trouble. Robo storms his way into Skynet’s base, kills all of the dudes, destroys Skynet’s CPU, and then helps in the rebuilding of humanity.
And that’s the whole crappy story.
Graphically, RoboCop vs The Terminator
isn’t bad for the era it came out in. Though, to be honest, I’d have to say that the Genesis version of this title blows the SNES version out of the water in terms of visuals (Note: please click here
to read Akiba55’s retro review of the Genesis version). The SNES version also lacks pretty much all of the blood and hilarious violence that the Genesis version has. Since I mentioned hilarious violence, and this does involve RoboCop, here’s the (slightly modified) ED-209 scene from the first RoboCop
Musically, RoboCop vs The Terminator
is pretty good. The first few levels have pretty good music, but honestly the later you get into the game the more some of the musical choices get a little grating and less enjoyable. Specifically, all of the music for the sections set in the future are simply atrocious. To compare it to the Genesis version again I’d give the SNES version the edge, only because the music in the Genesis version is god awful even in comparison to the weakest themes in the SNES version.
RoboCop vs The Terminator
plays like a shooter/platformer hybrid, because we all know that since RoboCop is such a brisk walker and avid jumper he makes an ideal candidate for a platformer. I openly laughed at some of the platformer parts I came across during the game. Some sections made sense, like standing on a thin wooden bridge too long would cause it to break and fall, because RoboCop weighs a ton. Then there were other times where I had to jump up and grab onto ropes/wires with my hands and shimmy across large gaps (because RoboCop totally does that a lot too), and the ropes I’d be using would never break. Oh, and apparently fire hurts you in this game. Because everybody who’s seen RoboCop knows that fire is his fucking kryptonite.
Robo can shoot his weapon in any of 5 directions; up, diagonal up, forward, diagonal downward, and straight down. Normally the mechanics for shooting work pretty decently albeit there were a few times where shooting in the diagonal directions got a big frustrating for me. There’s a handful of weapons you can acquire during the game as well. You start off with RoboCop’s Auto-9 handgun obviously, other weapons I found included a rapid fire rocket launcher, an ED-209 machine gun (!), and a laser-pistol version of the Auto-9 (for the levels set in the future). Overall I felt that the rocket launcher was clearly the best weapon available. In one related bit of hilarity, I don’t know if it was a sprite-glitch or intentional but at the start of each level RoboCop pulls out his handgun from his leg just like in the movies, however my starting weapon one time was the 3 foot long rocket launcher… which RoboCop still pulled out of his leg. Oh, and thankfully the gun-arm from RoboCop 3
is nowhere in sight despite this game coming out the same year as the movie.
It should also be noted that this game is hard – arguably too
hard, like “you need to cheat in order to make it even” hard. Lots of enemies have unnecessarily high amounts of health, like to camp near ledges and refuse to let you get to their level, and respawn the moment they go off-screen. Losing a life sends you back to the start of a level and you also lose the weapons you acquired, even if they were carried over from a previous level. While you can shoot projectiles out of the air, a multitude of projectile attacks I came across came at angles I could either not shoot at or successfully jump over – essentially making it an unavoidable hit. I take no shame in admitting that I had to look up some passcodes in order to advance to some of the later levels in this game, because there’s just enough artificial difficulty in this game to make it more tedious than fun.
I’d give this game a healthy 4.5/10
It’s hard to say whether or not I’d recommend playing this game. If you’re a die-hard fan of RoboCop
I’d say at least give it a play session, but don’t feel like your “die-hard” status is going to be revoked for not completing this game or even liking it. To be honest, even if you’re a die-hard Terminator
fan I don’t really know what about this game would appeal to you besides the name on the box because this game really feels geared towards Robo’s fans. RoboCop vs. The Terminator
is more or less just a RoboCop
game with aspects of Terminator
thrown into it. A Terminator is an early game boss but they progressively become more or less glorified grunt troops as the game goes on and truly lack the intimidation factor that a Terminator should have. And while Skynet is the main badguy of the game, I really feel like the Terminator aspects of the game could easily be turned into their own stand-alone items and it wouldn’t affect the story of the game what so ever.
RoboCop vs The Terminator
is a fantastic idea that could quite easily work if you get the right people involved. I’d go as far as saying I’d like to see this franchise get a 21st century resurrection with a more polished presentation and a (much) better plot. Well, as long as they use classic Peter Weller-era RoboCop and not that shittier looking new one they’ve been toting around for that remake.