by James Fisher
Activision Inc
Crash Issue 51, Apr 1988   page(s) 100,101

Producer: Activision
Retail Price: £9.99
Author: designed by System3, programmed by Source

It's a typical Arnold Schwarzenegger role, familiar from Conan The Barbarian, The Terminator and Commando: and it's the same all-action Arnie who stars in 20th Century Fox's recent movie Predator, closely followed by System 3 for this licence.

The game starts as Major Alan Schaefer (Schwarzenegger in the film) and his small force of mercenaries rope-slide from a hovering helicopter and begin their hunt for missing VIPs in a dark, uncharted jungle.

Schaefer is the last to make it into the undergrowth. He finds the VIPs'crashed chopper with no survivors - yet no bodies either.

Then he realises his team has vanished - but as he moves further into the jungle's depths, he discovers his fellow mercenaries one by one, mutilated and very dead.

Armed with grenades and a powerful machine gun, Schaefer runs through the horizontally-scrolling jungle setting, using all his wits and weapons to survive guerilla ambushes and the attacks of vultures. He can soon find other weapons, obviously dropped by his murdered colleagues - and though they're helpful, an uneasy feeling starts to roll around in the back of Schaefer's mind.

Schaefer had been briefed to expect guerillas, and they can be disposed of quickly with his scalpel-sharp reflexes and ruthless firing. But can the horribly mutilated bodies of his colleagues really have been the work of guerillas, or is there something far more mysterious and malevolently powerful lurking in the jungle?

To reinforce this notion, a telltale triangular laser sight occasionally appears and tracks Schaefer...

If he survives long enough and beats the countdown clock, the mercenary leader might find out - and use all his military skills and power to destroy the sinister creature, the strange alien predator in the jungle.


Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: superb character animation, but a poor 3-D side view of the action
Sound: the meagre 'Schaefer running'sound is out of sync with the sprite's movements - hardly scary
Options: two keyboard layouts

Predator is mostly a waste of time: after just one go I could get through levels 1 to 4 by simply running along and hardly shooting a thing! There are some excellently-designed backdrops, and some tough enemies, but the terrible colours spoil things all the way - on some levels you find yourself chased by a box of chocolates. And the 'horribly mutilated' victims of the eponymous predator are nowhere to be seen.

Using joystick you can't throw a grenade or pick up a weapon, and to add confusion to difficulty the inlay is very unhelpful; instead of telling you straight what you've got to do it consists of obscure hints and tips.

Predator's a good idea for a licence, and there are a few powerful graphics. But the best entertainment you'll get out of it is reading the atmospheric blood 'n' guts talk of the inlay!

The movie is atmospheric and frightening, but the only part of the Predator game with any suspense is the inlay - well-written, but not very helpful.

The loading technique is a farce. First you have to load an unimpressive demo, then you have to load in each play area (and none seems very different from the others), and finally you have to rewind the cassette back to the first level (situated 'somewhere' in the middle of the tape - the game is to find it)!

When everything's finally loaded you're subjected to a 10-second opening sequence (every time you play) and then hidden behind it all is... the game.

Predator has few addictive elements - the basic 'get them before they get you' instinct is the obvious one - and though the graphics hold it together for a few games, when their appeal has worn off you're left with a very boring, repetitive and infuriating piece of software.

Presentation: 72%
Graphics: 75%
Playability: 66%
Addictive Qualities: 58%
Overall: 66%

Summary: General Rating: if only the game lived up to the inlay...

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 28, Apr 1988   page(s) 38

Reviewer: Rachael Smith

'Schwarzenegger! Predator!' it wouldn't sound quite the same if his name was Norman Shufflewick, would it?

But how tough is big Arnie? So tough that those South American, snivelling, commie-backed Sandinista freedom fighters... whoops! enemies of democracy and the American way (secret air-strikes and CIA subversion), don't give him any problems. It takes a fully fledged alien John Peel to set his pulse racing.

Not so for poor, seven stone reviewers though (You - seven 'stone?!! - Slimming Ed) who get sand kicked in their faces by humble rubber keyed Spectrums. Dontcha just hate games where the preliminaries take longer than the actual playing? Before you've had time to empty your rifle the 'Game Over' message is mocking your efforts.

Predatorwas a groovy movie which kept me on the edge of my seat (I was sharing it with Gwyn at the time... but that's another story), and this tie-in goes all out to capture the mood, starting with an animated pre-credits sequence where the alien ejects towards earth.

To get the effect takes a staggered load, but it's very pretty and probably worth it. Then it's into the jungle for part one, the enemy encampment. If you've seen the original you'll know that it starts like any old mission, and the program begins as the troops slide down from the helicopter and run off into the jungle.

Last one out is Arnie (meaning he has to do the washing up when they get home). Now it's time to yomp into the advancing enemy, wasting them with extreme prejudice as best you can. To make it worse, every so often the screen changes colour, like your telly's tuning has slipped, as the alien tries to target you.

Apparently this is all a preamble to a couple more loads, when you take on the alien in single combat, calling for hand to hand skills plus a lot of strategy. I say apparently because I couldn't get past the enemy camp.

Now it may be that I'm just a hopeless girlie - and I'll arm wrestle any one of you worms who dares write in and second that! - but I'm always suspicious of a game where sometimes I do quite well and others I die almost immediately, without quite knowing why. It suggests to me that random elements outweigh true tests of skill, which should surely have been sorted out in play-testing.

It's a pity, because the graphics are great, with a lovely little Arnie sprite - if a little Arnie isn't too much of a paradox. Even his arm muscles pump as he pounds along. If only I was able to keep him alive for longer.

Perhaps real heroes will walk through this one like they'd got nine lives... but i can't help feeling that its main attraction will be for hackers looking for infinite lives.

Graphics: 9/10
Playability: 6/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Summary: Great graphics, but too tough to get to grips with when sudden death sneaks up at every opportunity.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 60, Dec 1990   page(s) 61

Coming, erm, now actually, to a cinema near you...


Knowing full well what a square-eyed bunch you are, we thought it was about time you were given the facts on film and television licenced games. Once again, JONATHAN DAVIES was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

(Cough. Deep, manly voice.)

'In the beginning there were loads and loads of Speccy games. Loads of them. They sold all right, but not exactly in enormous numbers. The trouble was, you see, that none of them seemed particularly exciting. They had nothing that caught the public eye. They were just computer games. Had no 'cred'.

Then a small cog within a long-since-extinct software house had an idea.

"Why don't we give our next game the same name as an incredibly popular film? Then everyone would buy it just because they'd seen the film and they'd foolishly think the game would be just as good. How about i, eh?"

"Er, we could do, I suppose."


"But what if the film company finds out? They might sue us or something."

"Oh yeah."


"I know - we could ask them first."

"That's a point. Go on then."

"What? Me?"

"Yeah. Give them a ring and ask if they'd mind."

"Oo-er. Cripes. Okay then." (Dials very long trans-Atlantic phone number.)

"Hullo. We'd like to name our new game after your film and we were wondering if it was okay by you. Right... yes... oh, I see." (Cups hand over receiver.) "They want us to give them lots of money."

"Erm, well in that case we'd better." (Removes hand.) "Yes, that'll be fine. We'll send you some right away. Bye."


"But. er..."


"How are we going to come up with a game that's anything like the film?"

"I don't know really."

"How about if we have a bloke walking around shooting people?"

"That sounds fine. I'll program it right away."

And so the film and telly licence was born. It... cough. Choke.

Oops. There goes the deep, manly voice.

Anyway, film and telly games, eh? Everyone's doing them these days, as they're one of the few remaining ways of making serious money with computer games. Run a grubby finger down the charts and you'll find nearly all the top-sellers are film and telly licences. (Or arcade conversions, of course.)

But why do we keep buying them? After all, just because a game's named after a really brill film doesn't mean it's going to be any good, does it? Surely we aren't buying them simply because of the flashy name on the box?

Erm, well in the old days, software houses assumed this to be the case, and chucked out a stream of absolutely appalling games with 'big name' titles. Things like Miami Vice, The Dukes Of Hazard and Highlander were all pretty dreadful, but it was hoped that they'd sell on the strength of their names. But we weren't fooled. Oh no. The games didn't sell well, and the companies were forced to think again.

Eventually they came up with... the 'bloke walking around shooting things' idea. And they've used it more or less ever since. Lucky then that they tend to be jolly good all the same, and sometimes come up with the odd original idea to spice things up (like The Untouchables did, or perhaps Back To The Future Part II).


As always seems to be the case, the trusty YS ratings system doesn't really seem adequate when it comes to film and telly games. So here's what we've put together instead...

What does it look like? Nice? Or not very nice at all? (You mean are the graphics any good? Ed) Er, yes. That's it in a nutshell. (Then why didn't you just say the first place? Ed) Erm...

How does the general atmosphere compare to the film or telly programme the game's meant to go with? Have programmers just taken a bog-standard game and stuck a flashy name on it? Or have they made an effort to incorporate a bit of the 'feel' of the original?

Does the plot follow along the same sort of lines as the film or telly programme? Is there plenty action-packedness? And is the game the same all way through, or does it follow the original's twists and turns?

Um, how does the game compare to all the licences around at the moment? Is it better? Or worse? In other words, is it a 'cut' above the rest? (is that really the best you can manage? Ed)


Here's another film game, and like so many others its star is Arnold Schwarzenegger. That means, of course, that it's a scrolling shoot-em-up. It's set in the South American jungle where Arnie's up against not only the usual rebel guerillas but a mysterious alien foe as well.

In akchaw fact, I've just spotted that the scrolling, shooting bit is only Level One. There are two more sections as well (which multiload, naturally) where you actually come up against the alien who's been pestering you all through the first part. And there's also an impressive but lengthy scene-setting intro sequence where you see the alien landing from outer space. Sadly, however, Level One's a bit on the tricky side, which means that the rest of the game is out of bounds to all but the most hardened game players, none of whom work for Your Sinclair. Still, the first level's quite nice, with pretty graphics and a fair amount of variety. What a shame we don't get to see the rest, eh, readers?

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Lights: 85%
Camera: 68%
Action: 72%
Cut: 64%
Overall: 66%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 72, Mar 1988   page(s) 34,35

Label: Activision
Author: Source
Price: £9.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

Oh dear oh dearie me. What is it about human nature that makes otherwise nice, considerate, caring human beings (like myself) so incredibly susceptible to playing computer games that involve running around without a shirt, waving a machine gun around like a conductor's baton and blasting holes in everything that breathes? There's certainly something a little worrying about the fact that I haven't enjoyed a game quite as much as Predator in ages.

Maybe it's the chance to live out the ultimate male role; muscle-bound, good looking, tough, smart. Not that I'm devoid of any of these in real life (Snigger Ed).

Well, that could be it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it's because Activision have produced one of the most playable licence games from the ideal film for computer conversion. In short, Predator is no poor show.

Everything in the game is pretty closely related to the film's storyline (see review in Outlands - 66-67) so I won't go into too much detail.

You - Major Dutch Schaeffer - (Arnold) - and a team of men are flown into a particularly dense part of the South American jungle on a mission to rescue a number of hostages from communist guerrilas, only to find yourself in deadly combat with a 7' alien with metallic dreadlocks whose idea of fun is to total homo sapiens.

You begin the game sliding down to the jungle floor from your chopper - ooer (oh good grief - get a grip) and your men go stomping off into the jungle. You're last on ground and you survey the apparently peaceful scene for a couple of seconds; nice graphics. Side-on representation, dense, atmospheric foliage at the back. Not looking too bad. Let's try moving around. Oh, I say. Very nice. The animation is great; you really get an impression that you're controlling a stocky, heavy character.

Oh, hello. We've got company. Lots of guys in black peaked caps. I'm not sure I like the look of them. Yup, I was right. They blew me to bits. These must be the guerrillas. Time to break out the artillery, I guess.

This is more like it. You can really spray the whole area by pushing the joystick round in an arc. Bad guys are buying it by the tree-load. This is easy! Oh. I've run out of ammunition. And I was doing so well. Looks like hand to hand combat for a while - urph! Take that!

Oo-er. The screen's gone all bluey-pink, and this triangle has appeared. What's going on? This must be the alien's viewfinder tracking me. Best to steer well clear of that.

Well, this is all pretty marvellous. There are four stages to get through, each leading ever-closer to the final confrontation with the ugly s.o.b. himself. After the first stage, you find yourself in the guerilla village, then you've got to collect all of the appropriate weapons and protection necessary for the last bit.

It's a multi-load, which is an irritant, but let's face it, that's the only thing wrong with the whole game.

Predator is great. It's fast and violent and very tricky indeed. The atmosphere of the film has been captured well, with lots of victims looking all yucky and dead.

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Overall: 10/10

Summary: The most solid movie conversion since Short Circuit, only less sickly sweet. As close to macho as most people will ever get.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 11, Aug 1988   page(s) 83

Spectrum, £9.99cs
Amstrad, £9.99cs, £14.99dk
C64, £9.99cs, £14.99dk
Atari ST, £14.99dk

Any game that gives you more than ten lives (or their equivalent) should put you on your guard for frustratingly unavoidable deaths, and here's a case in point. When it comes to attrition gameplay, this Schwarzenegg'-em-up comes out tops every time. Ploughing through a hostile jungle you might expect to take hits from snipers, but would Arnold really get killed by bats? And would he really (in films rather than real life) be faced with enemy firepower he couldn't help getting wounded by? Being ground down without actually making mistakes to deserve it is just too frustrating for words but, if your blood's still a bit below boiling point, why not check out the extra weapons? You can pick up any thing from a machine pistol to a 6,000 rounds per minute mini-gun but your fire rate stays infuriatingly constant. Sounds like a bit of a raw deal, hmmm?

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 78, Apr 1988   page(s) 24,25

MACHINES: CBM 64/Amstrad/Spectrum/Atari ST
SUPPLIER: Activision
PRICE: £9.99

When you play the part of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a game there's very few people at C+VG who are qualified to play the part of a mega-hunk. Except me, of course, and I modestly accepted the wimpish pleas of my colleagues to do battle with The Predator.

And what we have here is a pretty near faultless game-of-the-movie which actually succeeds in capturing the spirit of the film. The films basically simple plot makes an ideal game play scenario, the central character (Arnie S), an ideal game hero, and the alien, an ideal nasty.

So it's off to the jungles of South America to rescue a bunch of trapped diplomats. The opening scene shows the helicopter dropping Arnie - otherwise known as Major Alan Schaefer and his six battle-hardened troops into the danger zone. The men sprint off into the jungle. Dutch Schaefer is the last to leave the chopper.

Within seconds you find a dead colleague and enemy troops coming for you. But the troops are only part of your worries. There's The Predator to deal with, an alien creature from outer space who is on a hunting expedition to earth. Everybody - including you - is fair game. Let us prey!

You start off equipped with a machine gun, a limited supply of bullets and hand grenades. In a tight corner you can also punch, block and duck.

Caution is the key word in this game. Don't rush in blindly. Even if you survive the nasty surprises, you'll probably use up your ammo too soon.

Besides the troops, there's a sniper in a crash chopper and death-dealing vultures to contend with.

You can tell when the alien is tracking you because the screen goes pink and a large triangle appears, moving closer to you all the time. At this stage it's best to run like hell and get away.

There are four stages to battle through before you get to the final confrontation with The Predator. As you progress you can pick up extra weapons, mostly off the bodies of your fallen comrades.

I have only two gripes about Predator. Firstly that it's multi-load. I know this is necessary but it results in an easing of the tension - and this game, like the film, is nothing if not tension with a capital T. Secondly, when you have lost all your lives you have to go through the starting sequence which involves all the men jumping from the helicopter. This becomes a little boring.

All in all, Predator is an excellent game where the hunter becomes the hunted. Buy it and experience fear.

Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 6/10
Value: 8/10
Playability: 9/10

Award: C+VG Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 99, Feb 1990   page(s) 57

Hit Squad
Spectrum, Amstrad, C64 £2.99

Originally released by Activision, the player moves Arnie through four enemyfilled jungle levels in his search for a missing helicopter and its crew. All is not as it seems, though, because out there in the dense undergrowth is an alien hunter - and you're its prey!

Four levels may not sound like a lot, but the lack of stages is compensated for by some incredibly tough gaming, with poor Arnie chopping and changing guns as if they were socks! Graphics are of well above average quality, especially the main Schwarzenegger sprite which sports a trendy flat-top hairstyle.

A brilliant game which captures the spirit of the film and, indeed, the star himself. Miss this at your peril.

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Overall: 83%

Summary: A mostly green screen lessens the overall impact of the game, but the larger sprites and even trickier play make up for Predator's monochromatic shortfalls.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 5, Apr 1988   page(s) 74

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.99
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99


It is a shame that everyone under 18 won't have seen the film of Predator, the blockbuster, all-action, box-office hit movie starring Arnold (The Terminator, Commando) Schwarzenegger and of course, caring parents won't let you see it when it comes out on video either, unless you have turned 18 in the meantime. So for the underprivileged underagers, the next best thing is to play the computer game, which Activision has kindly prepared for you. The storyboard was designed by System 3 (Bangkok Knights, The Last Ninja and IK series) with coding, music and graphics by Source Software. For the 64 version, Hugh Riley provided the graphics.

You take the role of Major Alan 'Dutch' Schaefer, the leader of a crack combat team sent in on a top secret mission to rescue white-collar survivors of a helicopter crash deep behind enemy lines. The team find the survivors murdered by the guerillas, and following a fire fight with the guerillas at their base, the team is forced to retreat back into the jungle. Then, one by one, each member is killed by a new threat, an alien predator from another world. Extremely agile, the alien is seemingly invulnerable to the most powerful of firepower.

Predator is a powerful movie and it is difficult to see how any computer game could capture the suspense and excessive violence that has made the film such a success. Almost predictably, the basic idea behind the game is nothing new, which may disappoint some readers who have seen the film, but System 3 have managed remarkably well to capture the film's flavour, and for once, stick quite well to the plot.

The game begins with the team leaving their helicopter, running into the jungle with the Dutch providing the rearguard in what quickly becomes a battle for survival. The game takes the player through the film's main scenes from the jungle itself to the guerilla base, on over trees spanning chasms and mud pools and on to the final encounter with the predator itself, all by the way of scrolling landscapes. This is done, in all versions, by the use of multi-loads, so you are not on disk, be prepared for a wait between sections.

At the outset, Dutch is armed with a machine-gun and three grenades, and as the jungle us overflowing with guerillas, enemy soldiers, low flying vultures and the predator itself, there is no shortage of targets.


At each stage mutilated bodies of Dutch's team lie strewn around the jungle clearings. Searching their corpses reveals extra weapons and ammunition for use against the enemy. Dutch can be wounded by enemy bullets, machine-gun fire, or claw wounds from passing vultures. As he is, however, made of sterner stuff, he can take several wounds before losing a life.

Frequently the predator's gunsight tracks in on Dutch as he runs through the jungle, and a life is lost if it catches up with him. In the final two levels the predator itself joins in the action, using all of its skills to try and kill Dutch. The whole mission is played against the clock - a timer attached to a nuclear device primed to explode.

As is often the case with film tie-ins, the computer version is better appreciated after seeing the film - the instructions do not go into much detail about the game's objectives, so if you have not seen the film first, you may find some of it bewildering. Though we have seen game scenarios like this one done in countless forms before, from the opening sequence onwards - as Earth looms into view - the game is very professional looking, and, depending on which format you have, can be effectively atmospheric. It is only the limited gameplay of each level that makes Predator something of a let down, although despite this, it manages to be a very enjoyable shoot-'em-up.

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Overall: 70%

Summary: It's such a pity that much of the film's atmosphere isn't given proper justice in the green and black scrolling levels of the Spectrum. The background scenes of jungle foliage look very impressive, but they tend to obscure soldiers, vultures and bullets moving around the screen, spoiling playability. Arnie himself is neatly animated, strides along purposefully and really looks as though he's firing a powerful gun, but the predatory alien looks decidedly average for such an awesome beast. Don't worry too much about the multi-loads as they are only about 30 seconds long.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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