Reviewed: June 26, 2008
Released: April 22, 2008
If you have had the chance to peruse an arcade over the past few years, you will have undoubtedly noticed that arcade development has been moving towards absolute immersion and physical interaction. There are few stand-up cabinets like I remember from my childhood – as they have all but been replaced by full-scale crotch rockets, screen wrapped Formula 1 racing carts, fully-enclosed virtual motion pods, and an array of other gaming contraptions.
One of the original gaming subgroups to kick start this movement towards immersion gaming was the gallery shooter, which got its start way back in the eighties with Duck Hunt and Hogan’s Alley. Over the years, the gallery shooter has evolved into an incredibly immersive arcade experience – often sporting large-screen displays, life-sized enemies, and highly detailed (and often gore-ridden) visuals. The games typically feature authentic gun controllers that add an additional level of realism to the proceedings – which accurate weighting and balance, even delivering vibration and recoil.
Gallery shooters, most notably the House of the Dead series, are huge hits in arcade; which can be attributed not only to the impressive equipment, but also to the pick-up-and play nature of the game’s shooting mechanic – manipulating a joystick or trackball is nowhere near as intuitive as simply pointing a gun and pulling the trigger.
But over all of the years that the gallery shooter thrived in the arcades, it tanked on the home consoles for obvious reasons – few gamers had the big-screen TV’s, most gun attachments were cheap and unresponsive, and the overall experience felt broken.
But now we have the Wii, whose motion-based control seems like a perfect fit for a gallery shooter. Seeing this, the people at Konami and Raw Thrills have released a port of 2004’s arcade shooter Target Terror to capitalize on the idea. Sadly, while the formula sounds great, Target Terror just is not all that enjoyable of a game.
This is probably the easiest gameplay description I have yet had to write, because Target Terror is as basic a gallery shooter as you can get.
Simply put: Terrorists appear in view, and you shoot them.
That’s all…nothing more. Well, except for reloading, of course. But even reloading is a form of shooting (offscreen), so I really can’t count it as “doing something”. There is no control of character movement, motion, viewpoint, – nothing. You just point at the screen and pull the trigger. Over, and over, and over.
The main gun is a standard issue pistol, but can be temporarily upgraded using randomly appearing powerups to form a submachine gun, single barrel shotgun, freeze gun, flame gun and finally a rocket launcher. Certain elements in the environment will help you dispatch of your foes – namely the conveniently placed explosive (red) and toxic waste (green) barrels.
The game has 10 levels in total, and none take longer than 20 minutes to complete – and that even includes a few arbitrary restarts necessary when being hammered unfairly by enemy grenades and Molotov cocktails.
Obviously, the game gets progressively more challenging as it plods along, and there is an array of difficult options from which to choose – but that is really all there is to Target Terror. And even when the game tries to break out of its shell and pull off a minigame or two – it is just a bunch more shooting.
The one redeeming feature comes from the campy FMV movies that make an attempt to thread a story in and amongst all of the shooting. Most of the enjoyment comes from the fact that the FMV scenes make it fairly obvious that nobody involved in the making of Target Terror took their work too seriously – including the actors who often seem to be holding back giggles as they attempt to sound stern and powerful.
Target Terror might be a four year old game, but it looks more like a fourteen year old game. If the 80’s circa FMV cheesiness were not bad enough, you throw in hundreds of pixilated enemies that look like they were ripped from Aerosmith’s 20-year-old Revolution X game. Terrorists or not, people on the street do not generally have borders around them, so we don’t expect them in our games – yet Target Terror’s terrorists look like the grade school artists who cut-and-pasted them from their digital photos failed to crop out the backgrounds leaving thick black lines around their frames. Strange, indeed.
Even the menus have a very dated look about them that hearkens back to the early nineties coding. Everything has a certain low-res look to it, which is made all the worse by cramming it onto a high definition screen.
Sound? What sound. I guess there are some grunts and groans sprinked into the gameplay, but other than that Target Terror is very bland…and glitchy. I’m not kidding when I say that I only heard about 60% of the gunshots I fired, and probably fewer of the expected sound effects. I know the game was intended for noisy arcades, but a bit more immersion in my immersive shooter would have been nice.
Target Terror retails for $40, and features about an hour and a half of total gameplay – which is not an impressive ratio, given the fact that most gamers could do the same with about $5 worth of quarters at the local arcade.
I will say that the game was a bit more palatable with the Wii Zapper attachment (probably the first game to claim that honor) – where the aiming and firing was a bit more natural and steady as the standard remote pointing. .
Target Terror is definitely not the best bang you are going to get for your buck. While there is some merit in the shooter-based play, it is best enjoyed on the big screen in an arcade – not in the living room.
And while the FMV movies are definitely worth checking out – if only to laugh at their ridiculousness – it is not worth plunking down $40 for.