stargate.jpgIn 1994, MGM released the Roland Emmerich-directed film Stargate. It told the tale of a portal which led to an alternate world which was not unlike ancient Egypt, but with futuristic technologies. Although it received a lukewarm reaction from critics, the public enjoyed it enough for it to eventually become a franchise, complete with comic books, TV spin-offs, an animated cartoon, novels, made-for-dvd movies, and a few video games. One of these video games was a decent if by-the-numbers 16-bit title from Acclaim. It wasn’t anything mind-blowing, but you could do a lot worse for a Super Nintendo movie tie-in.

The game pretty much follows the film. You play as Col. Jack O’Neil, and you’ve been separated from the rest of your team after traveling through the Stargate to the alien planet Abydos. It’s up to you to regroup with the rest of your group, find the scattered pieces of the hydrogen bomb and use it to destroy the Stargate, assist the locals, and eventually defeat Ra. The game’s graphics were done using rotoscoping, in which animators trace over live-action footage in order to make movements appear more realistic. This technique was previously seen in games such as Prince of Persia, Out of this World, and Blackthorne, as well as in several early Disney films. As a result, characters movements are fluid, and the sprites are pretty impressive for a 16-bit game.

The gameplay is solid even if not spectacular. It’s your basic 2-d scrolling action game, so you run, shoot, jump, and throw grenades. It’s a bit slow on the responsive side at first because of the animations, but the controls don’t pose a major problem. The game isn’t as exploration heavy as Metroid, but it is less linear than many other 2-d side scrollers. Access to each new area is granted when you complete a certain objective assigned to you in a given area. The missions mainly revolve around doing something to a certain amount of objects (i.e. kill a certain number of enemy spies, arm a certain number of rebels, or destroy a certain number of computer terminals). It may tend to get repetitive at, but at least there is a good level design and everything is easy to find. There are occasional boss battles to mix things up, and two endings depending on weather or not you find all the pieces of the hydrogen bomb.

Stargate may not be on the same level as Contra III, but considering that it’s an Acclaim game, it does a good job representing its source material. Fans of the movie who still have a fully functioning Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis console should seek out the cartridge.