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REVIEW A BAD GAME DAY | “Last Action Hero”

By
Posted on August 7, 2012 AT 01:00pm

Allow me to paint you a picture of a moment in my childhood. It was right after Christmas, 1994. I had just gotten a Sega Genesis with Sonic 2 from jolly ole Saint Nick, and I was as happy as can be. It came time, however, to purchase my second game. Off I was over at KB Toy Works, looking at all the video games behind the counter. With so many choices to go through, a decision was quite tough, and with strict parents who forbade me from playing Mortal Kombat and any of the really cool MA-13 and MA-17 titles my choices were only those that fell into the GA rating.

That’s where I laid my eyes upon it: Last Action Hero. I loved the movie a year before, with Arnold Schwarzenegger spouting classic catchphrases and having clever nods to other big-budgeted films. It was $29.99, so at the time I had to borrow a few bucks from my parents in order to purchase it. (With only getting two dollars a week for allowance, it meant a lot of borrowing from the folks for games.) There I was with Last Action Hero in hand, with a nice big smile on my face.

That smile would soon quickly turn into a frown that would signify a dark moment in my life-long gaming experience…

The first hint of how bad a game this could be was how the controls were set up. There was your usual directional pad, along with commands to jump, punch, and kick. Where was the gun button? Surely a game with a badass quite like Arnold would have guns in it; it’d be blasphemous without some shoot-em-up action! Nevertheless my hopes were brought up again when I saw which scenes I’d be able to reenact in the game: the car chase in Bonneville, Leo’s funeral, the movie premiere of Jack Slater IV, and the battle against the Ripper. In order to get to those great scenes, I had to play the first level: a run-of-the-mill side-scroller where you battle random punks and vandals.

You are dropped into the first level, and the first thing that comes across is a crosshair. Not only are there baddies to beat, but you also have to evade a sniper that shows up once in awhile. Once you come across the baddies you realize the second-biggest fault in the game: they have weapons, and you don’t. The only way to defeat these street punks is with you punches and kicks. Last I checked Arnold was not Jackie Chan; he’s the Commando! He’ll fill you up with lead in a blink of an eye!

The street punks in Last Action Hero have a major advantage against you. Their knives, baseball bats, and BOMBS (seriously?!) not only damage you easily, but they have a dramatic edge in the reach department compared to your fists and feet. You have to get super-close in order to unleash damage on the baddies, whereas they could be a foot (or a few inches in gaming measurement) from you to cause bodily harm to Jack Slater. By the time you defeat the punks on the screen your health will be depleted by more than a half. There are movie stubs to collect more health, but they only help so much.

With so much time focused on the first level, you’re probably wondering how the other levels fared. Well here comes the largest and most unforgiving problem with Last Action Hero: the first level is impossible to beat! I remember spending hours, weeks, and months trying to beat that first level, and found myself dying every single time around the five-minute mark. What makes it worse is that there are no checkpoint areas in the game, so if you die halfway through the level you have to start all over again from the beginning.

I would pass Last Action Hero along to friends and family members to see if they could beat that damned first level. Sure enough the same thing happened to them every time: death at around the five-minute mark. The fact that Sony Imagesoft made this game — a mere year before they would unleash the PlayStation to the world — is the most baffling thing about this. Back then if you were to tell me that Sony was going to unleash a brand-new system that would change the way we play our games, I would’ve slap you silly with the Last Action Hero box to show you the awfulness they were capable of.

If you want further proof of Last Action Hero‘s awfulness, take a look at YouTube. Type in “Last Action Hero Walkthrough”. You will discover that only one person has been able to beat the console version and prove it! (It’s with a ROM version, but still he said he used no cheat codes for it.) Every other person who has recorded their experiences with this game have only seen failure in the face of the first level, declaring it one of the worst video games ever made. Trust me when I say it’s not just one of the worst; rather, it is the biggest abomination in movie-based gaming history!

PROS:

  • Pros?! PROS?!! Don’t make me laugh!

CONS:

  • First level practically unbeatable
  • No gun/weapon usage
  • No checkpoints

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Last Action Hero makes E.T. for the Atari look like Skyrim. It was my first lesson on how most movie-based video games are complete and utter garbage, and can be used as a great tool during gaming pitches to showcase what not to do with a movie-licensed game. Last Action Hero is one title that should never have plagued my childhood, and I see it fair to give it a numbered score that can’t exist in real-life.

FINAL GRADE: -0.0 (out of ten)

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008, where he is a contributing editor and host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck




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