Target: Terror Review

Target: Terror looks like it was a lot of fun to make, but that doesn't mean it was a lot of fun to play.

In some weird alternate dimension, arcades still matter in North America and the classic quarter-sucking games of the 80s and 90s are still absolving us of our pocket change while simultaneously keeping us out of the house under the guise of "going out and doing stuff." In that reality, Target: Terror came out and was lovingly received by a gaming public that still cares about things like full-motion video and light-gun games.

And the winner of the Best-Dressed Terrorist award is...
And the winner of the Best-Dressed Terrorist award is...
Here in our dimension, though, Target: Terror came out to today's arcades: empty, lifeless places full of the damned and people who just don't know any better. There's probably some sales chart somewhere that pegs this game, which you might as well call "Area 51: Dudes With Shirts Over Their Faces Instead Of Aliens... Gold," as a success in today's arcade market. Someone somewhere probably considers it "a real earner" in their bowling alley or laundromat or wherever it is that people are hiding arcade games in this day and age. But then Konami somehow decided to pick up a Wii port of the game. And it's, you know, bad?

Or maybe Target: Terror is great. At the very least, it looks like it was a lot of fun to make. The game is mostly comprised of dated-looking pre-rendered environments that scroll around on a track as a piece of full-motion video in the background. Terrorists and civilians are superimposed on this footage, and you need to shoot (or not shoot, in the case of innocents) them before they shoot you. If your gun is empty, you reload by firing while pointed off the screen. The part that looks like fun is that all of the people you can shoot are digitized humans, who go through a little animation routine, switch into another one if shot, and make their way off screen. My favorite is "guy with dynamite under his jacket," who pops up close to the screen when you aren't paying attention and rips his shirt open with a zest for living that I haven't had in decades. Actually, my favorite is the girl who plays the newscaster at the beginning of each level. They shot her against a green screen, as well, but apparently they didn't have any actual microphones, so she's just reading fake news in some echoey room, probably using whatever mic was built into whatever camera they were using. This game feels super low-budget across the board, but in a sort-of-funny way.

But being hella budget doesn't excuse Target: Terror. It's way pixelated, the Wii Remote doesn't do a great job of simulating a light gun, it doesn't even run in 480p, and as a game meant to extract as many quarters from your pockets as possible, it's jittery and fast, making it really tough to avoid damage as you work through the game's scenes. Someone, somewhere is able to play the arcade version of this on one quarter. If you encounter him, do not take this gentleman on his up offer to give you a ride home! It will only end in tears, several years of forced servitude, and a shallow grave near mile marker 117.

You're given 30 continues on your first attempt, and when you discover that isn't enough, the game lets you start over with 40 continues on your second attempt. That probably won't be enough, either, but by that point you'll have played way more Target: Terror than you should have played, whether you're playing alone or with a friend.

As I played Target: Terror, the thing I realized is that I'd rather be watching a "making of" video for all of the terrorists. I have a feeling it involved a lot of people hanging out near a green screen, slapping on sunglasses, tossing on a bubble vest, wrapping a T-shirt around a head or two, and acting like lunatics in front of a video camera. Instead of spending the $40 on Target: Terror, I recommend you wrap a T-shirt around your head and film yourself pretending to be a ninja, a terrorist, or a ninja terrorist. Then post it online and send it to your friends.