To quote Robocop himself, Robocop Versus The Terminator is simply… excellent.
In Retro Game Of The Week I pull a game from my collection and write about why it’s important or interesting. Or in some cases, badly dated and rubbish.
Back in the early 1990s, there were some key rules to the games that were worth playing.
If it was a first-party Nintendo or Sega title, it was probably at least interesting, probably very good.
EA games were often experimentally interesting, THQ Games were almost always trash.
If it was a game based off a popular movie… run.
OK, that’s not always true — I really should include Alien 3 and Aladdin in my retro game of the week roundup one of these days — but it’s true more often than not.
But what if you had a game that wasn’t based on one movie license, but two… and that itself was based on a comic book remix of both?
Also featuring Terminators in gold, because, sure, why not?
That’s Robocop Versus The Terminator, a game that saw release across a slew of formats back in 1993 and 1994. The version I’ve got — and had for a long time now — is for the Sega Mega Drive.
Robocop chooses to holiday on the Death Star.
Often with these multi-format games, the differences are more visual or audio-based than anything else, with (typically) the SNES version having something of an edge.
It ain’t true for Robocop Versus The Terminator, where both critical consensus at the time and online consensus today claims the Mega Drive version to be the superior variant.
That’s often cited because the Mega Drive version is quite gory, and that appeals to a certain segment of the gaming audience just because it tickles the 14 year old boy part of their craniums.
Luckily for Robocop Versus The Terminator, there’s more to it than that, though I’ve long thought that this was a game that quite surprisingly flew underneath the radar of video game criticism at the time. The level of carnage compared to Mortal Kombat is, quite simply off the charts.
‘Tis but a flesh wound.
Then again, it’s also considerably in line with the general tone of Robocop, which blended action movie tropes with a hearty dose of satire. There’s just no way that the exploding corpses of your enemies are meant to be taken seriously, for sure.
This is EXACTLY what happens when Mario jumps on a Koopa,
but Nintendo hides the truth from you.
At its core, Robocop Versus The Terminator is a simple run and gun game, though as you’re playing as Robocop, it’s more of a clunky shuffle and gun game. Robocop’s movement is something that many games have struggled with, because he doesn’t exactly sprint, now does he?
If Terminators are the ultimate killing machines, why can’t this one aim properly?
Robocop Versus The Terminator for the Mega Drive gets it just about perfect, from the animation of his walking to the lighting to the sound effects — it all just works so nicely.
Like Highlander, it’s best to think of Robocop as a standalone movie.
THEY NEVER MADE ANY SEQUELS, RIGHT?
No, I don’t care if this was from one of your imaginary “sequels” or not.
Next you’ll be telling me there’s a “remake” of Robocop.
It’s true on the Terminator side too, with some nice spot effects like the way that the Terminator’s eyes will glow up just before they rise to their feet to take you on yet again.
Robocop just wants to have a little sleep for a moment. It’s been a long day.
Though I suppose that does constitute slightly false advertising. It’s “Robocop Versus The Terminator”, not “Robocop Versus The Terminators”… but once you get into the later levels there’s hundreds of them, all intent on taking you down.
Technically the entire game could be just this screen, and it would not be lying on the front of the box.
While a lot of thought was clearly put into the design of Robocop Versus The Terminator, it’s not really a thinking game. This is pure arcade cheese, one of those switch-off-your-brain-and-go-with-it comfort games, or at least that’s the way I tend to play it.
Pew. Pew Pew. PEWPEWPEWPEWPEWPEW!
I’ve been known at times to take it really easy with this game, firing up the 54 lives cheat if I want a simple blasting experience, or duck into the secret OCP lab on level 2 just to grab ED209’s gun if I’m in the mood.
Finding this room and this gun can make the game considerably easier.
If you know where to look.
Does that make the game much easier? Yeah, for sure, but sometimes it’s fun to just let your brain kick back, you know?
How to play Robocop Versus The Terminator now
My own copy of Robocop Versus The Terminator was very much one of those “right place, right time” kind of deals. I rented it a few times when it was new, enjoyed it a lot but couldn’t possibly afford it, because I could barely afford rent back in those days.
But by the late 1990s, nearly nobody wanted Mega Drive games, and I could pick it up for just a few dollars. It’s been a happy part of my collection ever since.
That’s generally good advice if you want games to play for super-cheap, by the way. Buy a generation or two back, and you can get a lot of game for nearly no money — which is why right now it’s shockingly cheap to pick up cheap PS3/Xbox 360/Wii games en masse. But I digress.
Not surprisingly given the complexity of the licenses involved, this isn’t a game that got the re-release treatment at all, which means if you want genuine software, you’re talking a Mega Drive (or, sigh, Genesis) copy.
This is one title that’s essentially kept full retail value over the years, which means that it’s typically selling boxed for around $100 or so.
Loose carts are a little cheaper, but of course full copies of most Mega Drive games are a little easier to source because their plastic boxes lasted a lot better than the cardboard of their SNES counterparts.
Also, I hadn’t realised until doing that particular bit of research just how dull and awful the Genesis box art was. Really, America — first the horrible Purple SNES and now this?
Seriously, did the work experience kid come up with this?