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Revenge of the License: Predator 2

What does it take to make an awesome Predator story? Easy: a strong, likable protagonist, a bevy of secondary characters to serve as involuntary spinal surgery candidates, and someone uttering the phrase, “You are one ugly motherfriender!” when re-dubbed for home television viewers with delicate sensibilities. What does it take to make an awesome Predator video game? I’m going to conclude nobody knows because like leprechauns, they don’t friending exist.

 

 

 

P2MS Title Screen

Predator 2 for the Sega Master System arrived in Europe in 1991, and if there’s anything at all for which I can give Teeny Weeny Games credit, it’s that they obviously looked at the NES Predator game and said, “Whatever we’re doing, we’re not going to friend it up that badly.” Setting out to make a game that isn’t like Acclaim’s Predator is setting the bar awfully low from the start though. It’s like a Formula-1 driver making it his goal to avoid wrecking on the first turn. It’s a great goal to have–in fact, it’s a short-term goal to which every race driver should aspire–but unless you have more beyond that, your long-term race is going to be a disaster.

And this will be your reaction on turn 2.

And this will be your face come turn 2.

So instead of that colossal cluster-friend of an 8-bit disaster, Teeny Weeny Games (the joke that keeps on giving) went with a design that stuck sorta close to the film. You play as Lt. Mike Harrigan, a veteran detective of the L.A.P.D., who winds up in the wrong place at the wrong time. The vicious drug gang known as El Scorpio is flooding the streets with narcotics and bullet casings to a degree even Los Angeles finds uncomfortable. A shoot-out ensues, Harrigan goes on the offensive, only to discover two problems: El Scorpio has taken hostages, and the coked-out gang members are only the second-most dangerous thing in this urban jungle. Thus you, as Harrigan, must blast your way through seven side-scrolling levels of action, rescuing a bevy of suspiciously-identical men in suits and giving downtown L.A. a hearty lead enema.

The only medical procedure Danny Glover is licensed to perform.

The only medical procedure Danny Glover is licensed to perform.

There’s one small problem: I liked Predator 2 a lot more when it was called Predator for the Commodore 64, Amiga, ZX Spectrum, and Amstrad CPC home computers. Teeny Weeny Games straight-out plagiarized a game from four years earlier to make theirs, a charge I do not level lightly. Let’s walk through this using the Amstrad version for comparison, shall we?

Both games feature a lone hero who walks through the game going left-to-right…

P2CPC RunningP2MS Running

…gunning down enemies coming at him from various angles…

P2CPC GunningP2MS Gunning

…including snipers who pop up from the ground…

P2CPC Sniper2P2MS Sniper

…or hang out on the upper parts of buildings…

P2CPC SniperP2MS WindowSniper

…while on the look-out for dropped weapons to upgrade his arsenal…

P2CPC UpgradeP2MS Weapons

…and running like hell every time this thing shows up:

P2CPC TrackerP2MS Tracker

For friend’s sake Teeny Weeny, there’s a massive difference between “borrowing elements from an earlier title to arrange them in new and interesting fashions” and “outright thievery”. If your design document is “Take the exact same game developed by a different studio; add in drugs, a password system, hostages, and boss battles; PROFIT!” then you’re doing it wrong. Not cool, Teeny Weeny Games. Not cool at all.

Michael Crisman

In 1979, Michael Crisman was mauled by a radioactive Gorgar pinball machine. After the wounds healed, doctors discovered his DNA had been re-coded. No longer fully human, Michael requires regular infusions of video games in order to continue living among you. If you see him, he can see you. Make no sudden moves, but instead bribe him with old issues of computer and video game magazines or a mint-in-box copy of Dragon Warrior IV. If he made you laugh, drop a tip in his jar at http://paypal.me/modernzorker (If he didn't make you laugh, donate to cure his compulsion to bang keyboards by sending an absurdly huge amount of money to his tip jar instead. That'll show him!)

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