We’re talking super-campy actors dressed as terrorists in the form of video clips set against a crudely-designed 3-D moving backdrop—yeah, sort of like Area 51, except even cheesier. The destructible environments and hidden mini-games offer some degree of entertainment beyond the game’s earlier brethren, but on the whole this is one exceedingly low-budget production.
Okay, sure, go ahead and laugh it up… so it’s hardly a secret that this game is pretty awful. The presentation is abysmal, sporting 480i video at 4:3 aspect ratio and a hard-rockin’ soundtrack that bears a compression quality comparable to that of YouTube. Gameplay consists of a paltry 10 levels that last around 10 minutes apiece (the last of which is nearly impossible), with four difficulty selections that basically determine the cheapness of the enemies you’re battling. It’s painfully obvious that the game was merely haphazardly ported directly from the 2004 arcade title (Target: Terror Gold), as success is dependent upon simply completing the ten levels in their entirety with a set number of credits (first 30, and then after you lose, the initial stock increases by 10 each time).
The gameplay is also stuttery and glitchy (it’s tough to shoot when the entire game hiccups every fifteen seconds or so), with enemies that flicker and flash randomly after having been shot and animation that doesn’t really meld with the environments. “Gore” is adjustable (red or green?), yet gratuitous, with blood splattering out of the terrorists and all manner of weaponry power-ups (machine guns, flamethrowers, freeze guns, RPGs) to try and add spice to this sloppy serving of canned camp.
And yet, despite its dreadful shortcomings, Target: Terror! does manage to elicit the same sort of pleasure that is derived from comparably bad horror films (MST3K fans, take note). Shameless in its inadequacies, Terror! doesn’t try to fool you into mistaking it for a big-budget title. Instead, it offers five-second-long introductions to each level featuring home video-quality acting from a woman dressed as a news reporter. And grotesquely pixilated visuals that might have been acceptable during the mid-1990s. And “terrorists” that more closely resemble your drinking buddies all garbed up in nondescript clothing and red-dynamite explosive vests. The whole experience just oozes cheese through every conceivable orifice.
Plus, as touched upon earlier, there are a few qualities that help to at least differentiate this light gun shooter from its peers. For one thing, the environments are respectably destructible, and taking advantage of that fact can earn you entry into one of several humorous mini-games (such as hitting explosive golf balls at terrorists in golf carts or blasting TNT turkeys thrown by bad guys out of the sky). These mini-games are definitely funny, but apart from their amusing themes and Benny Hill-style BGM, they really aren’t anything special. There’s also a very simplistic combos system that is hardly more than a gimmick, but is still strangely satisfying to some degree. Medals are awarded at the end of each mission in arbitrary fashion, but it’s still a fun addition. And finally, the aforementioned weapons upgrades scattered throughout the levels certainly can’t hurt.
So if you’re the type of person who appreciates that sort of thing, you might find some conciliatory value in the game’s carelessness. I mean, after all, it is playable, and you can go two players versus the computer if you’d like (or you can double-fist against the CPU terrorists in the so-called Justice Mode), so if you can forgive the (admittedly large) technical shortcomings, you can have a bit of fun with it. Might I suggest that such an endeavor is considerably easier to approach when supplemented by an appropriate amount of alcoholic beverage.
Just be sure to think long and hard before committing to a purchase at the MSRP of $40, which, quite frankly, is rather insane. Perhaps at a price point of $10 this game might be easier to recommend as fodder for a Friday night get-together with your friends (and better yet, as a download rather than a disc-based game)… but at the current price point, you’ll find far more camp-for-your-buck elsewhere.
Assuming you have just the right mindset, for the price of a rental (plus the cost of a fifth of whiskey), Target: Terror! can become a worthy distraction for a night with friends. If this game succeeds at anything, it’s its remarkable ability to assume its legitimacy (and its uncanny power to drain the aforesaid fifth). The actors in the game are clearly having fun, most of them no doubt well aware of the fact that this project was not about to buy them financial independence. So should you be well aware of the fact that this game is not about to buy you months, weeks, or even days of well-meaning entertainment; it’s a one-and-done thrill for certain, and even at that, it’ll only provide entertainment for those seeking the crudest of campy punishment. If that happens to include you, consider yourself warned, Mr. Hodgson.
Overall: 3.0 (Very Bad)