Predator stands as one of the greatest movies of the 80s, effectively combining sci-fi, action, and horror to keep audiences in suspense. For some reason, the sequel from 1990 got hammered by critics and audiences despite it getting a lot right, too. I personally like Predator 2. It had great characters, great atmosphere, plenty of creepy moments, and an awesome final fight between the titular alien hunter and Danny Glover. That movie didn't deserve the hate it got; no, the hate should've been directed at the Sega game instead.
Unlike the NES game based on the first Predator which was an extremely weird platformer, Predator 2 on the Sega Master System is a very straightforward shooter that plays like Ikari Warriors flipped on its side. You play Danny Glover's character Lt. Harrigan who fights on the frontline of an L.A. gang war which the Predator chose for his newest hunting ground. Each of the game's seven stages has two phases. The first phase involves gunning down gangbangers and later Predators while rescuing hostages. At random points in this phase, the three red dots that signify the targeting for the Predator's plasma caster will come on screen to try to lock onto you. These are the most tense moments of the game especially if you're on a narrow bridge when they come up. If you successfully rescue the minimum number of hostages in the first phase, you proceed to the second phase boss fight.
The visuals are impressive by Sega Master System standards with lots of detail in the backgrounds and a rock-solid framerate no matter how much chaos is onscreen. The sound effects are standard bleeps and bloops while the music is annoying. Fortunately the game is still playable with the TV muted. The controls respond decently, and the action never slows down.
Unfortunately, all of those good things got skinned alive by the actual gameplay experience. If I were to pick two adjectives to describe the overall experience, I would choose "cheap" and "annoying". First there are the snipers that infest the stages. They can easily target and nail you no matter where you go, but you can't shoot them at all. They even infest a few of the boss fights, making the already annoyingly difficult boss fights even more annoying. The plasma caster target can bring on tension, but there were too many points where it only brought on frustration, popping up in places where dodging it is nearly impossible. The fact that there is no death animation if you get nailed by the Predator is extremely disappointing, especially since the horror games on the Atari 2600 had death animations. Also, the stage designs are incredibly lazy. Yes, some key locations from the movie like the rooftop, slaughterhouse, and spaceship are in the game. However, THREE BASIC STREET STAGES were used to pad out the gametime. Yes, almost half the game is blatant padding!
Predator 2 on the Sega Master System pissed me off. This could've been a fun little shooter carrying some of the tension of the movie. Instead it was a couple hours of nonstop irritation. While I definitely encourage giving the movie another chance, this game just needs to be beheaded and mounted on the wall.