Predator 2

Developer: Teeny Weeny Games
Publisher: Acclaim/ Arena Entertainment

Movie based games suffer from a poor reputation for almost as long as gaming has existed. Though not the first culprit, E.T. set the standard and public opinion for this sort of game for generations to come. This does not mean there haven't been good or even amazing titles based on motion pictures, in fact, if you avoided the LJN logo there was a decent chance of a movie based title turning out pretty good.

Depending on the system you getting it for, examples of good movie-to-game adaptations include Aladdin, The Lion King, Alien 3, Batman, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Toy Story, The Terminator, Robocop and more. Predator 2 for the Master System seems to carry a point of contention, where players either view it as quick, poorly made cash-in while others proclaim it a hidden gem for Sega's 8-bit console.

Predator 2 makes a poor first impression by presenting players with a silent, static screen of L.A.'s skyscrapers. The main menu isn't much of an improvement either, providing no difficulty or sound options. Oddly enough, it features password saving, though its usefulness is limited considering I finished the game on my first playthrough in less than an hour.

At its core, this is a basic run-and-gun title with forced scrolling to keep the main character moving. You control Danny Glover's character mowing down wave after wave of drug lord. Shooting this constant horde is a ton of fun as each downed enemy leaves behind a bag of cocaine (yes, seriously) which can be collected for extra points. Officially all drugs collected are handed to LAPD's drug squad, but it's just so hilarious to see a tiny pixelated Danny Glover gathering enough cocaine to put Scarface out of business.

Killing baddies and collecting drugs aren't your only concern though; there are also hostages that need rescuing. Finally, there's the titular predator which oddly enough, barely makes an appearance throughout the game. Outside of a disappointing final battle, we only see him making an appearance though his arm cannon laser scope which occasionally sweeps through the battlefield. Should the laser scope focus on good ol' Danny, you instantly lose a life regardless of your health bar. Only three hostages are allowed to die throughout the entire game, should that happen, their deaths prompt an instant game over independently of how many lives you amassed.

Unfortunately, as fun as the gameplay initially is, it's not long before Predator 2's problems begin to surface. The first issue lies with its repetition, both visually and in-game mechanics. Enemy variety is paltry at best; you'll find yourself killing the same enemies over and over with little to no variation in their attack patterns. This even extends to the final level, where humans have been replaced by tiny predator-looking creatures, who feature new weapons but still act largely the same as every other bad guy you've killed so far. Littered throughout each stage are weapon pick-ups, but unlike other games in the genre, they are hardly distinguishable from your starting gun. Instead of giving you lasers, flamethrowers or other interesting variations, you receive uzis, shotguns and the like which merely change the rate, power or direction of each basic shot. The shotgun being a very egregious case, creating a three-way shot with an overly long refire rate, making this particular power-up practically useless.

Boss fights make for disappointing challenges, as you only have to shoot stationary targets while being swarmed by the same countless minions you've been killing by the hundreds. Predator 2 only features seven stages, but still manages to recycle background locations. There are three levels set in the streets of L.A. which look nearly identical to one another. The music isn't much better either, sporting a handful of forgettable, barely audible tunes, though the sound effects loud, convincing and generally well done considering this is a Master System game.

It's easy to see why Predator 2 draws such a wide range of opinions, on one hand the fast, unending action poses great entertainment, and spending half the game collecting my own weight in drugs is unintentionally hilarious. On the other hand, the non-existing enemy, weapon and level variety coupled with boring boss battles quickly make for a repetitive experience. One could potentially play for points, but with only seven non-looping stages it doesn't cater to that specific audience as well as it could have. Predator 2 could have been the Master System's answer to Contra, but it lacks in design and sound while recycling too much content.

- Fast shooting action is initially very fun and addicting
- Playing a tiny pixelated Danny Glover collecting his weight in cocaine is unintentionally hilarious

- Repetitive gameplay further compounded by lack of enemy, weapon and level variety
- Relatively easy and short. Players will likely finish it on their first playthrough in less than an hour

Final Grade: C+

Now THIS is a cover! Master system games are generally not known for appealing box art but Predator 2 is an exception. The ever-boring grid design is still there, but Arena Entertainment really did their best to minimize this.

The image is really just a screen from the movie, but a very good one, showing off the titular Predator. Of course, considering how little we actually get to see of him I'd almost call this false advertising. The image itself is little on the blurry side though, likely taken from a VHS copy.

The manual is more entertaining than most PAL instruction booklets. It features several cheesy "top secret" stamps while providing information on the game and each level. I like how all the text was written in the form of a military/police briefing, sometimes the little things go a long way. It's not all text though, there are a few white and blue screenshots, but they're so small I could barely make anything out.

Finally, the cartridge comes in a blue font, combining nicely with the rest of packaging. It's a small variation, but it does stand out from the crowd. Master System games don't exactly hold a high standard for me when it comes to good packaging. Predator 2 does not provide any extras like maps or posters, but all the basics are pulled of really well and that's enough to make it stand out from the rest.

Packaging Grade: A-

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