As someone who spent the late-’70s and early-’80s watching Godzilla movies on TV, the classic mid-’80s arcade game Rampage — in which you get to be a gigantic monkey, wolf, and yeah, lizard who trashes a city — was an early favorite. It’s why I was so curious about Terror Of Hemasaurus (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X / S, Xbox One, PC, Switch), an old school-style arcade game in which you, yeah, get to be a giant lizard who trashes a city…but in a way that adds new menace to his rampage.
July 16, 2030. Svalbad, Norway.
During a debate about climate change, a scientist’s point is perfectly illustrated when an iceberg behind them collapses, and a chunk with a frozen dinosaur inside floats away, only to melt, uh, well, I think I’ll just stop there, because the story gets weirder and weirder from here. But in a good way.
Regardless, you’re a big lizard, and you smash things. The end.
In every way that’s important, Terror Of Hemasaurus is an homage to Rampage, complete with mid-’80s style graphics and music. You punch buildings, climb up them to punch them some more, and snack on the tasty people inside. And they’re also healthy (as in they restore your health). Which comes in handy more than you might think. I don’t know where the local cops got pistols that could actually hurt a giant lizard, but it’s money well spent.
In other ways, though, Terror Of Hemasaurus is Rampage evolved. For starters, Hemasaurus is more spry than George, Lizzie, and Ralph were in Rampage. Not only can he pick people up and throw them (handy when there’s an annoying helicopter buzzing around your head), but he can also kick people. More importantly, he can kick cars, which, when done right, can send them crashing into buildings.
Hemasaurus can also do an Atomic Butt Slam,
which is like a “CANNONBALL!!”, except you land on the ground with a powerful shockwave. He can also deliver an even more powerful special attack that I won’t spoil except to say that it’s powered by the terror you inflict on a city, so you get to use it a lot.
Also, buildings in Terror Of Hemasaurus don’t just come straight down. If you hit a tall one in just the right spot, and often enough, it can fall to the left or right, and take out the building next to it.
Terror Of Hemasaurus isn’t just about wanton destruction, though. You have to complete specific objectives to finish a level. Granted, they’re usually things you’d do anyway — like kill X number of people, or destroy X percentage of a neighborhood — but they do provide some challenge. Just be sure to pay attention at the start of a level. If you’re not careful, you’ll get so caught up in all the smashing and snacking that you might forget to kick 15 cars.
Don’t worry if you do, though. You can easily stop mid-level and restart if need be. Which is just one of the ways that Terror Of Hemasaurus may be an old school-esque arcade game, but it was still made in 2022, with all that implies. Hence, why you can turn the music down or off; why you can opt to not have the screen shake whenever Hemasaurus goes atomic; and why you can choose to not see how many points you got from eating that guy.
You can even remap the buttons if you want. You won’t want to, they’re set up well, but it’s there if you need it.
Needless to say,
you need not be someone who spent the late-’70s and early-’80s watching Godzilla movies and playing Rampage at the local arcade to appreciate Terror Of Hemasaurus (though haters of old school games need not apply). While it may be deeper than the game it’s paying homage to, it’s still a simple but effortlessly fun arcade game.
That said, it does have some issues. For starters, while it has four-player local co-op, it doesn’t have an online option. Which is too bad, it would be fun to get Hemasaurus together with his friends Autonomous Hemasaurus (a.k.a. Mecha Hemasaurus), Salamandrah (a giant salamander), and Clocksloth (a giant sloth that’s, what? On the clock or something?) without actually having to get together with my friends…given that the friends I used to play Rampage with live on the other side of the country. (Hi guys!)
Also, unlike playing Rampage in an arcade, Terror Of Hemasaurus lets you continue where you left off if you stop to get a snack or watch Stranger Things or whatever. Except that the way the menu is set up, you have to go through a couple pages to back where you left off, as opposed to just, say, hitting “continue” like you conveniently do in most games.
Then there’s the issue with Terror Of Hemasaurus‘ music. Like the visuals, this game’s soundtrack sounds like it’s from an ’80s arcade game. Except it also sounds like the speakers in this arcade game’s cabinet are blown out because the music in Hemasaurus is really rather shrill and grating. Even worse, the music itself is not the issue, it’s fine, it just sounds like it was encoded at a really low resolution or is a bad glitch or was originally recorded on a cheap tape recorder set next to a stereo with broken speakers.
Terrible sounding music aside, though,
Terror Of Hemasaurus is still a super fun arcade game, even if the ’70s or ’80s are not a time you remember. It captures the wanton destructive fun of Rampage, Godzilla‘s best movies, and the fun you had as a kid building LEGO cities and then smashing them, but with added depth and a sense of purpose that will compel you to keep punching those buildings, kicking those cops, and eating those civilians. Those tasty, tasty civilians.