With Terminator: Dark Fate poised to arrive in theaters in only a matter of months, reuniting writer James Cameron with Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton, and of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger, now seems like a good time to look back at the Terminator game that was supposed to come to the Nintendo Entertainment System, but never did — at least, not in that form.
According to Gaming Alexandria, Sunsoft acquired the license from Creative Licensing Corporation (CLC) some four years after the original film had been released to theaters, believing that there was still interest in the property (which, seeing as we’re still getting Terminator movies and games in some form or another to this day, proved to be correct). Rather than let the American branch handle things, Sunsoft of Japan were the ones to develop the title. Little was seen of it over the course of its development, save for the following trailer from early in the development cycle — the only surviving footage of the game, and even then, only of the title screen and some cutscenes:
What followed would prove to be an amazing miscalculation, the sort of thing you could only wish to be a fly on the wall to witness. Rather than showing CLC anything beforehand, Sunsoft came to present them and founder Rand Marlis with the finished product. It would seem that upon seeing it, they immediately revoked Sunsoft’s license, as it didn’t follow the parameters of the film, instead focusing on the future portion more than the past. Had they initially come to CLC with a concept, as per the norm, maybe that ship could have been steered back on track.
Instead of Sunsoft’s planned 1990 game, the rights to The Terminator would instead go to Canadian studio Radical Entertainment and publisher Mindscape, who released their version of the game on the platform in 1990. Word has it that Virgin Games had also looked into the rights sometime between Sunsoft’s whoopsie and Radical’s rebound.
Rather than let their work go to waste, Sunsoft would indeed release the game, albeit in a slightly-altered form. A nip to the title screen here, a tuck to the cutscenes there, maybe tweak a likeness or two for good measure, and they had their own legally distinct intellectual property ready to go to market under a new title. In Japan, it was known as Rough World, while in North America and Europe, it became Journey to Silius.
For more info, including other promotional materials, concept art, and more check out the full article by Gaming Alexandria’s Stefan Gancer, who just so happens to be working on a book about Sunsoft.
Source: Gaming Alexandria, via Kotaku