Arnold Schwarzenegger. Large. Inarticulate. Large. Richer and more famous than you'll ever be, possibly because he is, after all, quite large. Still, you can't deny that action films like Terminator, Total Recall, and Last Action Hero made the most of his size in roles that the studio fridge wasn't quite spry enough to manage on its own. And he at least deserves to be allowed to forget any and all forays he made into comedy. The world would probably be a better place if the memory of Junior were erased from mankind's collective consciousness.

     Unfortunately, several of these movies have also been adapted to video game format, usually platformers. The phrase "Based on the hit motion picture" is usually enough to make long-time gamers cringe and cross their legs in horrific anguish. Quick show of hands, who has played Total Recall? While Predator doesn't exactly reach that level of pure crap, it certainly strives.

     If you've been alive for more than ten years you've probably at least heard of Predator. However, long before the Predators became a Power Rangeresque Alien-battling force, or fought Batman, Predator was a sci-fi thriller movie about a group of commandos being systematically stalked by a mysterious otherwordly hunter.

     The first thing you'll notice about this adaption is the color palette is rather bright. I'm not sure if the odd, irradiated shot of Ah-nold on the opening screen is supposed to represent the Predator's heat vision, or what. It then fades to grey and is replaced by a similar shot of the predator itself. Get used to these two images. Apparently the developers decided to make them half the graphics in the game, flashing them between stages, game over, and starts screens. They're probably in the ending too, if one had the patience to actually finish this excuse for a Contra clone.

     I didn't mean to insult Contra with that casual comparison. This game just makes me lash out sometimes. As a child, the stage 2 background music (which sounds like a pair of synthesizer keyboardists doing some heavy breathing in a broom closet) stuck in my brain almost as profoundly as the on-sight nausea I suffer from playing Abadox. I honestly used to throw up playing that game. Essentially, the game is made up of cheap deaths, bottomless pits, and nonsensical improvised enemies. Three stages in, I had yet to see the Predator itself outside of the endlessly looping title animation and game over screen (mostly the game over screen...) There were plenty of scorpions and Viet Cong soldiers, though, as well as some bizarre, round things that look for all the world to be sentient bowls of bubbling soup.

     Arnold is armed with his fists; the first level gives you a machine gun or grenades at the very start. I say or because he drops one when he picks up the other. The machine gun is by far the most useful; it allows you to attack while ducking, attack at a distance, and most importantly doesn't stand a chance of blowing you up with a stray bounce. Another odd thing about the grenades, the display at the top of the screen dubs them as "Pine." I can only speculate as to how that happened; the game was made in America (right?!) The grenades can either be dropped and ran away from, or tossed at an awkward, unusable angle more likely to get you caught in an explosion than any enemy. Ah yes, and enemies respawn every time you leave the screen. Neat huh? Arnold also tends to be a poster child for inertia. It's difficult at best to make it through a jumping section without either skidding off the edge or falling short. There's even a point in stage 2 where the only way to continue is to take a leap of faith off the top of the screen to land on a narrow strip of ground, the closer platform being inhabited by a bowl of living soup that apparently can hit hard enough to lift a 300-pound Austrian off his feet.

     The scorpions and guerillas were easy enough to rationalize: Oh, he's in the jungle, that's where scorpions and crazy people come from. But by level three, the designers decided to give up entirely and have him fight bloblike ghosts and fireball-shooting plants. He also gets the laser rifle in this stage. I'm not sure when exactly that happened in the film, possibly after the part where the flying saucer full of men from Ork landed and dropped off the magic fortune teller machine that turned the little kid into Tom Hanks. Oh yeah, and by the way, the screenshot at left is actually from this Predator game. Apparently they decided to go for a nice, basic spaceship design. The truth may be out there, but frankly, I don't want to know what inspired this scene. Maybe a ten-year old son of a developer really wanted his dad to put his crayon drawing of the "Predeter Ship"(sic) into the game.

     I had a wonderful idea for a horror story. I call it "Predater." A young writer goes to have his manuscript copyrighted, only to find that an alien has stolen it and travelled back in time to secure the rights before the book was written. It may be a little ahead of its time, though. And it may be difficult to get the permits to films the climactic shootout in the Library of Congress between the author and the Predater, as the alien mothership attempts to hack into the Dewey Decimal System.

     In summary, let me restate the obvious: If a game is based on a movie, it usually sucks. Or, at least that used to be the rule; I hear Spider-Man is pretty good. At least game-to-movie adaptions are still open for this kind of generalization. And the odd game-movie-game is fair game by default.

Soon, the controller will be imbedded deeply in the tube.

Predator need... chiropractor.

Armed with only pine cones, a resourceful Marine can take down a brick wall.