At a Glance: I'm going to go out on a limb, but I doubt any of you have ever experienced what it means to be hunted. Has your comfy desk job ever placed you in the way of mortal danger? I don't suppose any of you have carved a video card down into a dagger to defend yourself against your enemies, have you? Then none of you can fathom what it's like to have an alien from another planet chase you around in a jungle full of ghosts and killer scrimp. The closest you will ever get is to play Predator for the NES.
Platform: NES (Download Emulator here - 192k)
Download: Download ROM here - 64k
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Game Plot: Note: Any previous experience with Predator the franchise, the movies, the bubble gum, or the stage play will not give you any more understanding of this game than anyone else. So all of you armchair Predator scholars need to take a step back. Made by Activision in 1987, running off of a few notes scribbled down by the director on a cocktail napkin, Predator for the NES kicks you in the teeth with a completely surreal take on something you thought would be fairly straight forward: You plus Predator equals fight. This concept is drawn out over thirty stages.
The plot you are given is that you are the lone survivor of a group of commandos that went deep into the jungle to rescue your allies. You vow that you will avenge your fallen, faceless, and never named comrades against an enemy you will not encounter for about ten levels. Then again every so many levels. And then again.
Enemies: Surgeon General's Warning: Central America may or may not actually contain any of the following; Men running around in red uniforms, men running around in completely blue uniforms, rogue samus wannabes, attacking shrimp, little creatures with wings, ghosts, snake-like creatures that shoot lasers, plants that spit fire, blobs with eyes, glowing scorpions, or rocks that chase you.
The game manual describes these monsters as Predator's pets. Now let's apply some logic to this kind of statement. An alien that lives off of hunting unleashes all of the species it has captured, and somehow these creatures wish to harm you? Somehow that little blob with eyes, of which the Predator has apparently nabbed a thousand of, thinks so highly of the creature that stalked it and imprisoned it that it wants to help fight you. The manual also contains the sentence, "In Predator, just staying alive through all the stages of raw combat action is winning."
Weapons: All of your possible weapons lay randomly around the stage, usually just hanging out in the middle of the air. None of your weapons allow you that much direct advantage over your enemies. The grenade takes a long time to explode when it hits the ground, giving your enemies time to pick it up, consider the significance of their lives, remember their reason for living, put it down, and mosey on away. While you cry. Rinse and repeat this process ten times while you try to kill a glowing scorpion running back and forth below you.
Levels: As mentioned before, there are a total of thirty stages and six "big modes". Big modes allow the player to immerse themselves in an environment so real you can almost taste it. Can you taste the purple in the sky? I can. Can you feel that invisible force that pushes you through the stage? That's life, man. You also get really tall and have to avoid flying slimes, which isn't so real.
Having a big mode indicates that the other mode is a tiny mode, requiring you to jump around the jungle, punch things, and eventually reach a door surrounded by leaves. The amount of jumping and the amount of punching vary slightly from level to level. Then there's a Depeche Mode, which allows me to make a joke involving a band that only I listen to and enjoy.
Bosses: The only recognizable boss is the Predator itself, whom you meet in every level where your guy grows from the sheer power of Nintendo Magic". Although he did not display any ability to throw four Predator heads at you, he does it with gusto here. He can also disappear, reappear, jump around, and make you believe in the last thing you'd ever believe in again&yourself.
Defining Moment: There is nothing that defines a man more than if he can punch a ghost to death. And I have.
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The Rom Pit is dedicated to reviewing the most bizarre and screwed up classic console games from the 1980's, the ones that made you wonder what kind of illegal substances the programmers were smoking when they worked on them. Strangely enough, the same illegal substances are often necessary to enjoy or make sense of most of these titles. No horrible Nintendo game is safe from the justice of the ROM Pit.