Friday, 3 August 2012

Total Recall

Super Adventures in Games Based on the Original Total Recall Movie Starring Arnold Schwarzennegger.

I thought seeing as there's a Total Recall remake coming out, this'd be a great time to take a look at the game based on the original film. Seemed a sensible enough idea, until I found out that there was more than one of them. Four entirely different games in fact, on six different systems, all with the exact same name. But whatever, I'll just play all of them.

Total Recall (Amiga/Atari ST) (1990)

Total Recall amiga game title screen
Nice title screen but, uh, why is Arnie's head orbiting Mars? I'm sure his face wasn't tilted sideways in any of the posters.

The game quickly fills in some info about our hero, Douglas Quaid, and how he's haunted by recurring dreams of Mars. Well, nightmares I suppose looking at that face.

And then they jump straight from 'Quaid wonders what his dreams mean' to 'Quaid decides to get a memory implant', and now he's somehow a wanted man. Good luck trying to figure any of this out if you haven't seen the movie.

Whoa, Quaid's sprite is all arms, with a head on top. I suppose that other guy's supposed to be Michael Ironside on steroids.

Atari ST
I figured out I can punch by holding fire and pulling to the side, but despite Quaid's oversized arms being almost as thick as his oversized head, I don't seem to be doing much damage here. Either this guy can take a serious beating before he goes down, or he's plain invulnerable to fists.

Here's an interesting fact (not really), the Amiga version scrolls to keep Quaid in the center of the screen as I walk around, but the Atari ST version keeps the screen locked until I reach the edge, and then pans across. Which is actually pretty annoying.

Holy shit, that's a lot of Ironside. And there's another one coming out the door in front of me. I was a bit too busy running away to figure out how to collect that gun pick-up in the last screenshot, so I'm just going to keep moving and hope I can find a way to lose them.

Those stupid stupid bastards. Not that I'm complaining. Of course I'll just get swarmed again the next time I walk past a door (and there's a lot of doors around), so should probably go back and get that gun.


Well, it turns out that Quaid starts with 5 lives, but seeing as I restart at square one whenever I use one, I figured I might as well just start a new game instead.

But I'm actually capable of defending myself now I've got the pistol and I know how to fire it. I like how the gun ejects casings, even if they're tiny compared to the giant bullets. Just a shame it takes 3-4 hits to kill one of these guys, and I was lucky to find a lone enemy who wasn't standing next to an infinite Ironside door.


Atari ST
Okay, I have no idea what the hell I'm supposed to be doing. I can't find an exit here, only lifts, ledges, and legions of henchmen trying to kill Quaid. There's no map, I can't tell by looking whether the lifts can go up or down (or both), and the place is so huge I can't remember where I've been already.


I think I've solved it. My theory is that I'm supposed to search the level for those items on the right of the HUD, and once I've got them all I can move on. Though there's no hints on where to find them, so I'm just going to have to search every damn corner of the map.


Huh, I got all the items, where's my win? There was supposed to be an Earth shattering victory!

Shit, I'm nearly out of health. I just don't see how I can get close enough to fire back at these gun wielding goons without taking a bullet or two of damage. They start shooting when they're off screen, but it doesn't seem like I can hit them until I can see them.

Well I searched everywhere I could for as long as I could hold out, but I just couldn't find an exit. So that's it, the game beat me. Next Total Recall.

Total Recall (ZX Spectrum/Amstrad CPC) (1991)

Total Recall ZX Spectrum game title screen
ZX Spectrum
Side face makes a return, and ZX Spectrum graphics aren't making it any less weird.

ZX Spectrum
Yes! I can actually hit people this time. I like the animated fan spinning in the background, it's not the sort of detail I'd expect to see in a Speccy game.

ZX Spectrum
The ZX Spectrum game's been all about the switches so far. I flicked a blue lever to turn this ledge on, and now I've found a cyan lever to flick over in the floor on the right. Shame I've got no idea what it'll do.

Amstrad CPC
The Amstrad CPC version seems pretty much identical to the ZX Spectrum version, apart from looking entirely different. And... I think I just locked myself in a corner here. I guess the P blocks turn the forcefields off temporarily perhaps. I can't really test my theory though as I've gotten myself stuck here.

Oh crap, this bag doesn't look like a useful power up. Don't tell me this is another collect 'em up like the Amiga game. Great, I've got to navigate a lever puzzle labyrinth and find all the the objects along the way.

Amstrad CPC
Nope, there's no way I'm winning this fight. I can't attack as I'm jumping, so he'll get the first hit in, and I've got 00 on the healthometer. Though it's not like I've got anywhere else to go. How the hell did Quaid get into this switch maze anyway? All it said at the start was basically 'Quaid discovers that henchmen are trying to stop him from getting to Mars.'

Jumping up was instant death as expected, and the game doesn't have lives so that's that then. Actually I've gotten Quaid killed about a dozen times by now, I'm rubbish at the game. But it's a pretty rubbish game so we're even. Next.

Total Recall (Commodore 64) (1992)

Total Recall Commodore 64 game title screen
I wonder why the Commodore 64 game came out two years later than the Commodore Amiga game, putting it well into the 16-bit era. Maybe they realised they had to go back to the drawing board and come up with something better this time.

Well I'm running around jumping on platforms, so far pretty similar. Well I would be anyway, if I could get past this bloody wall. Quaid just bounces right off it, and no amount of shooting will blast a hole through it.


Oh, turns out it was a crate in the way, not a wall, and I can smash it by attacking while ducked. Well now I know that. Next time I find a crate, things are gonna go differently.

The other games had annoying jumping, but this takes it to the next level of awkward. Quaid only ever jumps directly forward, I have no control whatsoever when he's in the air, and he bounces off the walls. It's going to take forever just to get him on this bloody ledge.

Blind jump into spikes, that's just fantastic. Well I guess I was supposed to look ahead while I was riding up on that lift on the left, but I didn't realise that until it was too late.

This is pretty much how the game went on for me, with more box punching, and spike falling, and the occasional enemy to shoot. They only give me one life, which I lost early and often, and I've burned through all my patience already. At least there were no switches, I'll give it that.

Total Recall (NES) (1990)

Total Recall Nintendo NES game title screen
Last game now, and this... is not the Total Recall music. Sounds like it'd belong more on some comedy detective adventure game. Have a listen for yourself on youtube if you're curious.

Whoa, I'm outside! No switches, no forcefields, no crates, lifts or flame pits! And no bloody items to collect. I like it already.

Though a guy just dived out at me from an alleyway.

The fuck? He dragged Quaid into the alley and now he's kicking the shit out of him. Quaid's twice as tall as the guy and has muscles like... well, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He shouldn't have to stand for this!

Well I escaped back out onto the street, but now I'm being attacked by henchmen in bins and enemies doing drive-bys with machine guns.

I decided I'd be safer off the streets and ducked into the cinema. Turns out they were showing the credits for the game on an endless loop. Though I got an extra life for turning up!

And then I immediately lost my hard-earned life to a drive-by shooting. These guys are really out to kill the poor bloke.

At least I actually have lives in this though, and it's not instant game over the first time I make a mistake.

Great, now I have to deal with a SWAT team jumping down on me, and some annoying kid punching me through... the mysterious holes in the fence. Moving on.

Hey it's my old nemesis 'bloke who throws shit out of a window'. In game after game we have met on the field of battle. Well I'm on the field, he's always hiding indoors next to a stack of something heavy. Bombs in this case.

I have to be honest, I don't remember this bit happening in the movie, but then it has been a while since I last saw it.


It took me a second to figure out what I was doing walking into some guy's house. But then it clicked... this is MY house, and someone's shooting it up with a machine gun!


Well this isn't good. I was doing okay against Sharon Stone, but when Michael Ironside started joining in I had no chance. I can't stand up, and I can't crawl, so there's no possible way for me to win this fight.

Total Recall NES Cohaagen
Wrong Schwarzennegger film mate.

Well, I'm stuck on the floor with half a hit point again, but at least this time I was able to beat up Quaid's evil wife and steal her gun (not that the game bothers to explain who she is or what's going on here.)

But even armed I'm no match for Mike Ironside, he's immune to my bullets. I guess I'm supposed to take down Quaid's wife and get out of the room before he arrives.


Total Recall NES Richter looks at tracking device
Awesome, I finally got out the room, and got a cutscene for my trouble. Well, it's more like a picture actually, but whatever. Apparently I'm 'going for the subway', which is news to me but at least now I've got a goal.

Whoa, they put in the x-ray machine fight from the movie! That's actually pretty ingenious. Shame I'm doing so badly at it. I can kill the enemies, but these security ball things on the ceiling are tougher to get rid of.

They won't let me out of the machine, so I presume I have to kill them all first. Sadly they killed Quaid first, so it's game over. A proper gamer would of course restart from the beginning and give it another shot, but I just played four Total Recalls in a row, and I give up! I can't take anymore!

So that's all the Total Recall games then, at least all the ones I'm aware of. I couldn't really recommend any of them, but I think the NES game is probably the least bad of them. Then again they are movie tie-ins, so it's very possible they might turn into an entirely different game on level 2, if you can ever get that far.

If you've played any of these games and have a different opinion, have any game requests, or just want to tell me I'm bad at games and should stop, feel free to leave a comment!

1 comment:

  1. "I'll Be Back" and "Terminated" on the NES Total Recall are of course taken from The Terminator franchise of movies :)


Semi-Random Game Box