Electron User1st July 1989
Published in Electron User 6.10
The Predator in the title isn't the beefy Arnold Schwarzenegger - he's the bait. The plot, which is taken directly from the film of the same name, involves an alien creature which is hunting Arnold and his pals and killing them in most unpleasant ways. The climax of the film involves our hero surviving an explosion which even three yards of lead shielding would object to.
Basically this is a sideways scrolling shoot-'em-up with you controlling Schwarzenegger in the starring role. Our hero moves from left to right past parallax scrolling scenery - the bushes in the foreground move faster than the trees further away. Shoot the enemy soldiers coming at you from all directions, and even popping up from camouflaged holes in the ground.
The basic controls are standard Z or X for left and right plus * to jump and ? to crouch.
Holding down the direction controls and pressing * or ? moves Arnie diagonally up and down the screen. Pressing RETURN fires his gun either forwards or diagonally, again dependent on the up and down keys. This gives a great deal of control over what is, essentially, a simple game.
There is also the option to drop the gun you're using and pick up a new one, but so far I've not come across one that's loaded. If you're not carrying a gun you can resort to punches and kicks, but they're not very effective against half a dozen gun-slinging soldiers charging at you.
Your final weapon is the grenade, of which you have three. You have to be very accurate when lobbing them, and in the thick of the action it's not worth the time or effort.
The enemy soldiers are quite stupid and you actually have to get in their way for them to shoot you. And - at long last in an arcade game - if they do get in each other's way their bullets have a similar effect on their pals. I've been waiting a long time for a game that does that. The soldiers that pop out of the ground, fire and then duck down again must be in trenches, but as long as you hit the right area of ground you can knock them out even if they are not visible.
However, the killer geese that fly across from time to time are more lethal. Of the three or four groups that appear on the first level most can be dodged, while one or two can be ducked - no pun intended.
At intervals, the screen turns blue and the sights of the alien's weapon slowly move across the jungle scene towards you. If you are hit you're dead. There is a way to escape, but I'll leave you to discover it.
The graphics are effective given the limitations of the four-colour Mode 5 screen. Apart from a preponderance of green - what do you expect in the jungle? - everything was clearly outlined and looked good. Not only that, but when our hero was hiding behind a bush or running behind a foreground mesh you still see him through the gaps.
There isn't much sound - gun shots, ones to indicate Schwarzenegger has been hit plus one for the alien and an end of game tune that really wasn't worth the effort. However, as this was a pre-release version it may improve.
This is a fun game having a lot of the feel of a Schwarzenegger film loadsa violence - and the fact that this is another Peter Scott work, coming hard on the heels of Barbarian 2, guarantees that it's as good a rendition on the Electron as could be achieved.
Another cracking game from the Superior stable, and infinitely preferable to the old re-releases on the Sam compilations.
The sideways scrolling is smoothly executed and the graphics are well defined. It's addictive and fun, so get your combat gear on and save the human race from that alien predator.