Before we go too far in our discussion of this week's Co-Op Classic, I feel I must come clean with our readers. I am a huge fan of the Terminator movies. I first saw the original when I was about 15 or so, and I totally loved it. The time travel angle, the intense chase scenes, the unstoppable nature of the Terminator, all of these worked together to make a truly memorable movie. (It helped that Linda Hamilton was a total fox.) So great was my devotion to the movie (my wife loves them too!) that my boys are named after characters from the movies: Kyle and Connor, respectively. I remember that when T2: Judgment Day was released in theaters, it was seriously hyped. You couldn't go anywhere without seeing a poster, can of soda, or magazine with Arnold's face on it. It was no surprise then, that a video game based on the movie would hit the arcades. Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the arcade game, was a co-op experience that was memorable in its own right.
T2: Judgement Day was a real eye-catcher. The sides of the cabinet were emblazoned with the ever-present visage of the Terminator himself. Digitized speech featuring the actual voices of the actors in the movie called out to prospective players. If I heard "I'll be back!" coming from the game, it was like Pavlov's dogs; I felt compelled to throw in a quarter. "Excellent!" said Arnie, and then the game was on. The huge machine guns that players used to control the game were certainly unusual. These factors all worked together to make players feel as if they were immersed in the movie itself.
If there was one bad thing about the movies, it was the fact that you never saw too much of the future war against the machines. Not so in the arcade game! You took on the role of a T-800 who was helping the resistance and aiding John Connor, the humans' leader. Your buddy could join up as another Arnold model; this saved lots of problems, I am sure, as who wouldn't want to be Schwarzenegger, right? The game began by tossing you into the devastation of a battlefield ravaged by the war. Dozens of skeletal terminators came your way, often popping up right from the bottom of the screen. Pipe bombs and missile launched your way could be destroyed in midair to avoid damage. Occasionally, you were joined by human fighters, and (rather annoyingly) you lost points for killing them, which was bad, since they always seemed to be in your way.
But there was more to the game than just killing hordes of Terminator endoskeletons. Hunter/Killer airships flew by periodically, and by using rockets, you could destroy them before they came and laid the smack down on you. Huge tank-treaded robots with massive gun turrets were mini bosses, and could withstand lots of punishment (and usually cost you a quarter, at least). A variety of levels included interior missons, where you had to destroy Terminators who were actually in human form, and avoid killing innocent humans (and of course, they were totally in your way, too). The last boss fight, against the liquid metal T-1000, was extremely difficult; players had to first freeze the terminator, and kill him, protecting a fragile John Connor all the while. Much easier said than done! The game was fairly short by modern standards, but it didn't take away from the experience at all. In fact, it just made you eager to play it again.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day was innovative for its time. In addition to the digitized speech mentioned earlier, actual footage of the actors was included in the game. The T-1000, for example, looked exactly as it did in the film. Opposing Terminators had Arnold's face, as well. Short video clips appeared in the game every once in a while, which was unheard of back in 1991, Laserdisc games aside. These features, partnered with hectic, co-op action, made T2: The Arcade Game a real standout among other games of the time.
Like our very first Co-Op Classic, X-Men: the Arcade Game, Terminator 2: Judgement Day is worth a look for even modern gamers. The Terminator series is going on strong to this day, obviously, and a new movie featuring Batman himself, Christian Bale, as John Connor is forthcoming. The Sarah Connor TV series was a hit, and will be back for a new season. I'd love to see T2: The Arcade Game released on Xbox Live or the Playstation Network. The best fit, though, would obviously be for the Wii. The lightgun capabilities of the Wii would make this game even more enjoyable. Perhaps a WiiWare remake, or a VC release of one of the home versions of the game would be possible. Even if this never happens, keep your eyes open, and if you ever see the game in a Mom and Pop pizza place or an old mall, give it a try. I guarantee you'll "be back!"
Thanks to the KLOV for the pictures!