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A World of Games: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Oh man, how have I NOT covered this one yet? Released back in 1991, at the height of the excellent movie’s hype, Midway’s Terminator 2 light gun arcade game was in seemingly every arcade and pizza place imaginable. I mean that literally: I really do feel like it was everywhere. Or at least in all of the arcades that mattered.

If you haven’t played this one yet, you’re missing out on one of the better light gun arcade games. You play as a T-800, which is the same version of Terminator as Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movies, and the game largely follows the events of the movie, right down to the final stages features a battle in front of a liquid nitrogen truck and eventually a vat of molten steel. It’s awesome if you’re a fan of the movie, and for a game in the early 90s it was pretty unreal.

Gameplay is typical for a light gun game at the time: you’re equipped with an automatic gun from the get-go, and can pick up powerups, new weapons, screen clearing nukes, and more, all while destroying tons of evil Skynet machines. Looking back, I don’t think the game did anything truly innovative (at least not to me, I was young and always grew up with this in arcades), but I think the game had great presentation. The sound was spot-on appropriate for the material, there were digitized voice samples and models of the cast from the movie, and, most impressive for a game based on a movie, it actually followed the plot of the movie it was based!

The cabinet is immediately recognizable: if the huge T-800s on either side don’t give it away, the iconic image of Arnold on the marquee, or the overlay of Robert Patrick will. It has a dark blue color all over, which I feel isn’t all that useful for a likely dark arcade, but hey, the game obviously didn’t suffer because of it. Also, being able to use a mounted automatic UZI instead of a pistol/revolver from other light gun games at the time is pretty awesome.

This game still holds up to this day. It is the perfect example of a game that is simple to play, and immediately understandable what it is about. You and a buddy, just blasting away and the machines. Mindless fun, and the best type of gameplay for an arcade owner looking to sap even more quarters from players. I’ll happily toss a few coins into the machine each time I see it.

*Played at Pinballz in Austin, TX 2019


I've been writing about video games for years and playing them even longer. You'll find me playing all types of games, old and new. Mega Man III is greater than Mega Man II.

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