There are many that prefer Terminator 2: The Arcade Game to the Master System's Terminator 2: Judgement day. This is largely because the former is a shooting game that was ported to various consoles whilst the latter is a fairly straightforward platform game with a bit of beat-em-up and shoot-em-up peppered over the action to make it a little more interesting. This short review is concerned with the latter game, and if you've gone and gotten yourself a good quality emulator such as Fusion, Terminator 2: Judgement Day is just an SMS download away. It has to be said that acquiring the game is just about worth it, for a number of reasons that are detailed below.
It isn't difficult to work out that what this game is generally going to be about - and this is at the very least - is beating up people and shooting them. This assumption (if you went ahead and made it before playing the game) is somewhat correct, but this is primarily a platform game that also happens to involve battering enemies and eventually shooting them when you finally acquire the gun, which doesn't happen until the second level. #
The game's premise is much like in the film: you are the Terminator and must protect John Connor at all costs. Each of the levels in the game require you to focus on a certain objective each time, such as acquiring a weapon or setting explosive chargers. So before you get too excited and think this is a pure shoot-em-up game, remember that you've been told this is more run than is gun, and more platform than it is action. Still, it is a damn sight more convenient to own this one (or download the ROM of it) than to try and find the arcade version in this day and age.
The mechanics of the game are pretty typical for a platformer with beat-em-up qualities. You've got the usual joystick movement as well as the ability to jump as well as your attack button. If you're unarmed, the attack button allows you to punch enemies if they're close enough and if you've got a gun (you don't acquire one until the second level) then it, well, shoots your gun. The whole thing is a decent side-scrolling experience that takes you through the events of the movie, though in a much shorter time since the game isn't as long as some may like.
The gameplay is varied nicely by the selection of different enemies that you have to face, from relatively weak goons to much more powerful foes such as the T1000 whom you cannot even kill when you meet him, merely avoid him the best you can. You will also find yourself picking up energy power-ups during the level, this is in addition to various pistols and ammunition you find along the way as well.
The game's content cannot be described as impressive, even by 1991's gaming standards. As far as characters go, there's you - the Terminator Series 800 Model 1 - as well as John Connor, Sarah Connor, and the T1000. That's it on the character front, not counting the generic goons that you face off against during the levels of course. The level selection is pretty sparse as well, taking you through a truck area, a bar, the meeting of Sarah Connor, a trip to Cyberdine, and then a finale which entails fighting the T1000 in three stages of battle. It isn't the easiest game to be fair, and completing it could take up to an hour for the less experienced gamers out there.
It's definitely not worth going out and buying a Master System to experience this game. After all, the content is a little light and the platforming action may not be what many shooting game fans are looking for. If a game were to be brought out based on the new Terminator Genisys movie, then this would perhaps be more entertaining due to the relative lack of hardware constraints these days, but this T2 Judgement Day Master System game suffers quite a bit from the lack of powerful hardware available when it was created. Its graphics and sound are OK, but the sprites are not detailed enough and seem a little small to be enjoyed properly.
If you can get hold of the Fusion emulator and a ROM of this game however, this will be worth your time, plus it is free. At the other end of the seriousness spectrum from the shooting-only arcade game is the Terminator Pinball Machine: Terminator 2 Judgement Day for the Master System lays somewhere between these two extremes.