If you haven’t heard yet, Arnie’s back on the big screen in a new action vehicle called “The Last Stand”. The bad news is that it doesn’t look like it’s doing too well at the box office or with the critics. Whether it’s age or the scandals marking the last few years of his career as the Governator of California, who can say, only that there was a bit of hope in reviving his manly bulletproof persona after being away for so long. Stallone managed to do it, so why not the Austrian Oak?
But there was a time when Schwarzenegger could star in a shitty film and still be the baddest guy in the theater. His career would take side trips into awfulness but his star power was such that no one really cared. He’d be in another blockbuster and all would be forgiven. For every Raw Deal, there was Predator.
People would forget that he showed up in a movie like 1988’s guilty pleasure flick, Red Heat, where he played a Soviet supercop who comes to America chasing a bad guy while partnered with James Belushi. It also looks like a lot of people also chose to forget that Ocean published a movie tie-in in 1989 based on the movie.
It was developed by Special FX Software and published through Ocean as a beat ’em up — but a weird beat ’em up in which players only saw the upper half of Arnie and whoever he was punching. Because that’s all he did. Punch. Sometimes you can get him to duck flying objects like rocks or mystery stuff falling from the sky, but mostly it was moving from either left to right, or vice versa, across four stages of repetitive punching. It’s a surprisingly far cry from the action game chops they wielded with Hysteria in 1987.
Things got a little better when Arnie was handed a gun in the stages after the first one where he fights his way through a men’s sauna which the Amiga version wasn’t shy about showing off. But even after battling with fists, lead, and through gang members aided by one cross-dressing as a nurse just like the movie, Red Heat went the way of the movie that it was based on much the way that Howard the Duck’s own game did.
The game was ported to a number of popular platforms that had a lion’s share of the kind of arcade action that Red Heat wanted to be like — the Amstrad, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 — with the best looking version arguably belonging to the Amiga. But in the face of other games that did a far better job from Broderbund’s Karateka to ports like Technos Japan’s Double Dragon, its single-minded focus on punchiness was simply added to a growing list of disappointing movie tie-ins.