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Retro Fire

Written: 7.30.14
Acquired: 1.31.06
Status: Cart only
Price: $3.99

Pub: LJNFeb. '95
Dev: Beam Software16 MEGS

When asked to name the biggest action movie stars, Arnold Schwarzenegger is sure to be quoted. When asked about quality action shoot them up titles on the SNES, True Lies probably would not be credited, at least, not right away (if at all). That's a shame as it's one of the better movie to game adaptations on the SNES. Thirsting for a fun violent overhead shooter? True Lies may be the very sleeper you've been hoping to discover. Let us dive in...
Film to game adaptations can often miss the mark. Not this one

                                                               ADVENTURES IN MOVIE HOPPING

                                       We saw The Mask on July 30, 1994. It wasn't all we saw that day...

As the end credits to the Mask rolled, my friends and I remained in our seats. The usual "So, what did you think?" question made its way down the row, as others were stepping around us to exit the theatre. Ben, the oldest in the group, had a devious look on his face when the question found its way to him. Our group didn't have a leader, per se, but as the oldest, Ben held ringleader status amongst a few other alpha males (namely Tommy and the guy we affectionately referred to as Sushi-X). Ben was also a kid at heart. He was the first in the group to get his driver's license, and he was a bit unpredictable. I stared at his grinning mug a couple seats over. There was a twinkle in his eye that suggested he was up to no good. "I really liked it. Know what else I'd really like: to see TRUE LIES right now"

Being a young innocent and naive kid, I thought Ben meant go pay for a second ticket. But as we walked out of the theatre I noticed my group heading toward the auditorium with the marquee headlined by True Lies, rather than the entrance where they sell the tickets. I gasped. Ben wanted to pull off a grand heist (through 10 year old eyes it felt like a big crime anyhow...). My heart was racing, and my palms felt like the bottom of a jetski skipping across the ocean. Somehow, this showing of True Lies was pretty much right after the Mask. Was it a sign? Was it meant to be? I just knew they were my ride home, so I had little say in the matter. Ben, who was in front of us, approached the double doors and looked back at us to steal a glance. He gave us a hearty nod with a devil-may-care smile that struck me as a vivid childhood image, even 20 years later. He swung the doors open and we followed him in like lemmings committing a heinous group crime in the still of the night

As we shuffled our way through and up to the top, I remember fearing for my life that our cover would be blown. Movie hopping was something I'd seen happen on TV sitcoms growing up. I never knew of anyone in real life who ever actually did it. In fact, the whole concept to me carried serious gravity. It was almost like an urban myth to me as a kid. Anyone who dares try to sneak into a movie for free was going to be caught red-handed, kicked out and banned from movie theatres for life. A mugshot would be plastered all over the county at all local theatres, denying you admittance from all future flicks. A little overly dramatic, you can see, but when I was 10 and living it out live in the heat of the moment it really seemed like it wasn't all that far-fetched. We grabbed our seats as the lights began to dim. I remember glancing out below me thinking how many others snuck in here free from the Mask showing?  And how many of us were going to get caught?  As the first trailer played, I could only imagine the worst case scenario...

"Come on everyone, the coast is clear. Let's go!"

"I can't believe we're doing this!  I mean this is crazy"

"SHUT UP!  Keep it down over there. Act like you've done this before, will ya?"

                                      Ben looked like a man possessed. He clearly had done this before

"I dunno, Ben. I kinda have a bad feeling about this..."

"Ah you wussbag. Grow some balls, will ya. Ain't no one gonna catch us... not if you just play it coo"

Ben, a 17 year old with the wisdom twice his age, led us on

"I dunno about this, too"

"Will you guys zip it, huh? This is a fool proof plan so just follow my lead, and I'll show Y'ALL how it's done"

                                             Ben kept reassuring us that no one was going to catch us

No one huh?

That sure didn't look like NO ONE to me, Ben

At least, that's how I envisioned this scenario playing out as I sat there with the trailers blaring at my face in surround sound

Luckily, we'd made it safely to our seats... for now, anyhow...

I had difficulty focusing on the trailers... as I kept my eyes darting over the room looking out for any ushers who might come to crush us for the sins of our youth

                                       Any slight movement to and from the door got me all worked up

After a few minutes went by and we were in the clear, for the moment at least, I stole a glance at Ben. Son of a bitch was kicking back like he was at home in his PJs. I had to admire him, though. He had a carefree aura about him at 17 years old that I couldn't help but enjoy just a tad bit. Ben was a kid at heart if there ever was one

Ben's now married with 2 kids and yes he's still a big kid at heart

It wasn't long before the movie began. No usher ever came to rebuke us. We had a wonderful time watching True Lies, and while I don't advocate or promote movie hopping because yes it's morally wrong, it remains a fond memory of the fun times I had with that game crew of mine back in the day

                                       It marked the first and last movie hopping escapade of my career

Thanks for corrupting us kids, Ben, 20 years ago to the very day

                                       Cameron Diaz from The Mask was HAWT. This?  Straight steamy


Aziz spearheads a terrorist group known as Crimson Jihad

                                       Arnold plays Harry Tasker, tasked with foiling Aziz's vile scheme

Crazy to know that Arnold almost died on set riding this horse...

                                       One of the film's best scenes was the horse and motorcycle chase

Out of room, but not out of resources, Aziz backs up his ride...

                                                  ... and the mad man cranks it up full speed ahead!

My jaw fell to the floor. Nothing like a good summer blockbuster

                                       Kind of crazy to believe that only 2 weeks ago this film turned 20

"What da hell were ya thinkin'?  I mean, I had the guy, and you let him get away"

                                                                            BIG TOYS TO PUT DOWN THE BIG BOYS

You start out with a standard 15-clip hand gun. But it's sort of weak and after every 15th shot, you must reload, leaving you vulnerable for a precious second or so. On the up side, you get unlimited ammo with it. That means even if you used all your ammo from the other guns you'll at least always have this. Don't forget to fire off all your shots once you get down to 5-ish or so. Do this where no enemies are roaming. It can mean the difference between living and dying. The last thing you want is to reload your gun during a crucial moment... so always keep it fully stocked

                                                                           I love how blood splatters on the furniture

Now we're talking!  The machine gun is like the hand gun, only it spits out bullets at a breakneck speed. When fired, you automatically lock yourself in whichever direction you are facing. You cannot move and fire the machine gun at the same time. In addition, the machine gun allows you to turn at unique angles, giving you the possibility to snipe scumbags from a position where, with any other gun, you wouldn't be able to. It's definitely handy for clearing a room full of bad guys... but as you can imagine... it eats up a ton of ammo quickly

[Gotta know yer guns, son. It's an uzi -Ed.]

Ah, the shotgun. It's a powerful spread shot that fires 5 shots at once. But just like in Doom, if you clip someone rather than blast them straight on, the power is greatly reduced. It's also slow to load so make sure each shot counts. It should be noted too that it only travels a certain amount of distance before disappearing. This is unfortunate because longer range woulda made the shotgun totally badass
                                                            Blast 'em front and center to maximize the damage

The flamethrower is the most powerful weapon. It instantly eviscerates upon contact. Like the machine gun, using this locks you in position, and you can turn a little bit to fry anyone within your vicinity. You can only have up to 99 ammo with this, and it burns out fast


The land mine is the perfect weapon to lure opponents in. Unfortunately, once you set it down, there is a sizable 3 second delay for the mine to activate, so it's no good if you are near your enemy. However, if you see him coming from afar, this is the weapon of choice

I love all the weapons in this game for different reasons, but the grenade just might be my fave. Below, I will show you why this particular means of wasting the competition is most satisfying...


Now go toss a grenade at the guy on the lower left

I love how the designers made that small table there. It's ripe for bouncing one over


Using the X button, Arnold will do a somersault. If you press the shoot button right after rolling, he'll get up on one knee and start firing. Used correctly, this technique can help


These lovely photo images, albeit a bit pixelated, have a strikingly realistic look to 'em


"Sorry, please forgive me. Wrong place, wrong time. Believe me, this is going to hurt ME a lot more than YOU."  NO!!!  What are you doing, Terminator?!  Kill 3 and it's game over

Use the nifty lock button to hold down your position

Another major key in determining your success is how you use corners and walls to your advantage. Notice here that with the basic hand gun, you need to reload every 15 rounds. Duck behind the wall while reloading. Once you're good, pounce and go on the offensive

                                       And to top it off, you have to reload. Can you say SITTING DUCK

                                                                  LEVEL 2: MAYHEM AT THE MALL

                                                            [I prefer Kay Bee Terrorists, myself -Ed.]

"FREEZE!"  *guy looks at his watch*  DAMN, I ALMOST SHOT YO ASS!

Somewhere, Zack Morris is smiling

                                       These citizens are completely oblivious to the gunfire around 'em

They're like the mindless teenage zombies on their smart phones

                                       Where deals are SO good, people are DYING to shop here. Sorry

Looks like this guy here took that saying a bit too literally...

                                         The restroom scene from the movie is one of my favorite parts

Trust me, this is the LAST guy you wanna piss off...

                                        If you see a guy taking a leak with his shades on, F*CKING RUN

                                       It's an epic devastation of grand Schwarzeneggerian proportions!

                                       Damn, notice how they replicated the pattern of the restroom tiles

The attention to detail here is spectacular. Fire at the stall doors and you will actually see bullet holes of various sizes... sweet. Keep shooting until the place blows up. Brings new meaning to the old phrase, "Whew!  Whatever you do, DO NOT go in there!" doesn't it??


The little details sprinkled in games is something I particularly enjoy. About halfway through the park, you run into a group of training martial artists. As you pass them you can actually hear their grunts of "HOO!" "HA!" "HEE!" It's pretty dang awesome. These guys are harmless so don't shoot them, but the bad guys sure can. It's too bad a movie starring both Arnold and Bruce Lee was never meant to be. I suppose this is as close as we'll ever get to that

Arnold AND Bruce Lee in the same film?  Mind blown

                                       They continue their reps without so much a flinch. #DEDICATION

                                       "I minored in History just to make sure I was fully unemployable"


                                                                    LEVEL 4: SUBWAY SUICIDE

                                       That's the good news. The bad news... this stage is hard as bricks

The sheer violence in this game is disturbingly satisfying...

                                                 But don't be a fool and rush in, or else this happens


                                       Trains whizz by, giving ya just enough time to get to each alcove

Notice how his grenade is poorly aimed, and how it bounces off the side of the train...

                                       It's this wild, random, unpredictable factor that makes it a BLAST

I cringe everytime Arnold goes out this way... OUCH

                                                  LEVEL 5: SHOOTING ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY...

                                       Hard to explain but it's got a cool "8-bit Nintendo 1990" vibe to it

                                        And it's all ambiance here. No music, only crashing waves. Nice

"You shoot, I shoot, remember?"

HOLY SHIT indeed. 'Nuff said!

Finish him off in any manner you like. Personally, I find roasting him to be a fitting end

                                       Because mandate states each level gets harder than the one prior


Guy to the left took it to heart...

"DIDN'T I JUST KILL YOU!?!  AHH!!"  Thanks Arnold for showing us what NOT to do

                                       You could probably climb over it too, but that's not nearly as fun


Believe it or not, he's even deadlier than Rock-It-Ralph... because this bastard MOVES

                                       He's rocking that red scarf while you rock a little red of your own


                                       Yup, relish all the easy kills you can because there are not many

The game forces you to explore. You'll be punished if you don't

Imagine wading through this hellhole. Rockets are screaming past you in a clastrophobically tight space while gun slinging flunkies set their sights on you. Now imagine, if you will, having to backtrack through this after discovering you had forgotten to pick up a key earlier. NOOOO!!

Luckily there's no respawning. Killed enemies stay dead. But still, in a few cases you'll find yourself not killing but sneakin' by best as you can. Unkilled enemies will have to be dealt with if you need to backtrack

                                                True Lies is one of the hardest Super Nintendo games ever

Plus you never know what critical weapons you might discover...

                                                                 LEVEL 7: REFINERY RAMPAGE

                                                Similar to the docks, it's all about the ambiance here

Use the barrels to your advantage here, just like we did in DOOM

                                                                     LEVEL 8: SPACE HARRIER

                                                   LEVEL 9: JUST ANOTHER "SLAY" AT THE OFFICE

                                                           LEVEL 10: AZIZ MEETS HIS BITTER END

                                        Looks familiar?  It should, as it's plucked right out of the movie

A very young Eliza Dushku hangs precariously in the balance

                                       Uhhh, it's actually a harrier. "GET TO DA CHOPPA!!"  Nevermind

Arnold undoubtedly has some of the greatest one liners in history

                                       Sorry, Art Malik, but I agree with Arnold [You're one to talk -Ed.]

I got TWO words for ya... [SUCK IT!!!  Sorry, it's Pavlovian... -Ed.]

                                       His one liner finale in True Lies is SO cheesy and '90s, but fitting

Can you imagine this film post 9/11?  But man, back in '94 it was good ol' cheesy fun


Some games are rock hard. Some games are near impossible to beat. And then, there's True Lies. While the first 2 or 3 levels start out fairly manageable, it isn't long before the curve spikes and you find yourself dying over and over again. Now normally, I'm not the staunchest proponent of using cheat codes, but when a game is as maddeningly difficult as this, I'm not against evening up the odds a bit. For example, BGWPNS (big weapons I assume) allows you to start with all weapons (but not infinite ammo). This is fair, I think. Another code gives you invincibility, which isn't fair but good for when you just want to blow shit up without suffering the consequences. Amusingly enough, to enable this God mode you have to input the command BGGRLY... BIG GIRLY. Beggars can't be choosers

Level select codes have always been a favorite. I feel it really increases the longevity of games lacking a save feature. Sometimes I want to jump to a certain part of a game, beat that part and call it a night. It's handy for those moments when ya just want to play for 20 minutes before bed

The stages are so damn long they have to be split up!

                                        In this case, cheating a bit (BGWPNS) really even the odds out...


The game earned respectable scores. EGM gave it ratings of 8, 7, 7 and 6.5. GameFan rated it 79, 73 and 70. Super Play Magazine scored it 74%. All publications agreed that it was one of the better movie game examples available, but its 2 glaring flaws hold it back from being more than what it is. The 2 flaws being the not-so-great music and gun sound effects and its mad difficulty. As for the film, it was, for the most part, a success. It was the first movie in the history of movies to boast a budget of over 100 million (20 years later, the triple figure mark is now common) and it raked in 378 million worldwide. Critics and fans alike enjoyed its mix of action and comedy, with bits of romance even sprinkled in for good measure. Jamie Lee Curtis won the Golden Globe Award for best actress. Damn... who could forget that infamous strip scene?  Steamy stuff!  True Lies also marked a strong comeback for Arnold, who starred in the flop Last Action Hero the summer prior. It's interesting to note that this was James Cameron's baby in-between T2: Judgment Day and Titantic. Ah, the days when Cameron ruled

                                       20 years later and I'm still waiting for the sequel: FALSE TRUTHS


Movie game adaptations are hit or miss. True Lies, for the most part, is a hit. The action comes at you fast and furious, yet during the calm before the storm you have to be methodical and strategic. It's a combo that works well, rewarding flexible players who excel in scrums and who show an affinity for meticulous planning and precision. A lot of the game are scenes plucked straight out of the movie, and the ones that are reimagined add rather a nice bit of environmental diversity. All of the classic locales are present, from parks to catacombs to a dour refinery. But it also has some nifty ones you just don't see often, such as malls and docks. This results in giving the game a nice breadth and makes each new level something to look forward to. Visuals are solid. The music loops though and the guns could sound far more convincing

But make no bones about it, what really makes True Lies stand out is its sheer, unadulterated violence. It's loud. It's brash. It's grisly. Grenades send its victims sprawling 10 feet in the air as blood spills and bodies singe. It's a great game to pop in after a tough day at work, as few things satisfy like wasting bastards point blank via shotgun, followed by roasting someone alive. On the downside, it's way too difficult. The levels are LONG and can take 15-25 minutes to complete. (But this does make it an ideal game to pop in for a stage or 2 to get your quick fix). The later levels are maze-like, thus the time it takes to beat them. Some levels have you fetching items which impedes the shooting mayhem. Enemies always seem to know where you are, even if they can't see you. The lock button helps but a quick 180° turn option would have too. Angling your shots and positioning yourself properly is of utmost importance. But even if you do all of that, it'll STILL eat you up and spit you out. Thank goodness, then, for codes which allows for a far more fair playing experience. Despite its flaws, there aren't too many titles comparable to True Lies on the Super Nintendo. It's worthy of the Arnold name, providing wanton destruction the likes of which few others can match

Graphics: 8
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 7.5
Longevity: 7.5

Overall: 7.5

Bronze Award

                                       Pumping terrorists full of lead in a public restroom?  PRICELESS

"Next time, you should really listen to me. I said, I needed to pee"