Game Size: 256K
Game Type: Third Person/Top Down Helicopter SHMUP Arcade Conversion
Other Ways to Play: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Arcade, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, MSX, Nintendo 3DS, Sharp X68000, TurboGrafx-16, ZX Spectrum
Power Base Convertor Playable?: Yes, 6 button compatible.
Price I Paid: 7+ 6.95 (First copy had a different game in the box. That I already had of course.)
Price I Would Pay: 2 Dollars
Condition: Game, Case, Manual
Game Rating: BAD
My History: Bought for this collection project. Played original arcade version in 1988 and bought remixed version (Super Thunder Blade) on the Genesis in 1989.
Ahh Thunder Blade. A game I wanted so much to like that I mostly just hate because of how it needed to be.. FUNNER. About 20% funner.
In 8th grade my Junior High Graduation trip was to Rocky Point Amusement Park in Rhode Island. I had heard mention of a game where you sit in a rotating cockpit and pilot a helicopter. Thunder Blade was it. For a tiny moment my 75 cents in 1988 money got me this amazing scaling top down and third person experience. Knowing it was on the Master System was incredibly infuriating to me as I only had a Commodore 64 and NES at the time. But in Sophmore year in High School I got the mighty Genesis and the remixed semi sequel Super Thunder Blade as one of my two games with the machine. I didn't love it but I did really like it and I still kind of do.
(At least in PAL land the C64 got Thunder Blade and it actually plays and looks much closer to the arcade title than you would think. However it does have very low resolution and low colored sprites to manage this feat.)
Well for this project it was finally time to buy the missing game. I regret doing so.
Next suite of shots are from Kega Fusion emulator.
Get used to seeing this screen.
Digitising images from a movie as your title screen?
Top down mode. Its the shorter part of the level because it is kind of fun actually.
Yet another unfair death from CURVING CANNON SHOTS in third person view.
Back to top down mode to fight the boss.
What you want to see your score WHILE PLAYING? Silly gamer!
Annoying and barely viewable cave section. Can you see which bit you have to really avoid carefully?
In Thunder Blade you pilot a helicopter using direct controls on your controller (so up is up in this game) and fire a gun and a slow moving but powerful missile that takes a moment to launch but can be fired again as soon as it hits a target or flies off the screen.
Like the arcade game you have a top down mode and a third person 3d scaling mode. However unlike the arcade the scaling and parallax 3d effects in the top down mode are absent in the SMS port and barely simulated in 3d. Also the throttle control has been removed from this port entirely.
Top down mode where your guns only can hit aerial targets that mostly just try ramming you and your missile is only for ground targets is somewhat fun. The graphics are nice with only a small amount of sprite flickering when too much is on screen.
The problem is 3d mode. See me after more pictures.
Game and contents.
The next three images are from a Master System
One of the later levels I couldn't be bothered to reach.
The easy, boring, and ugly first boss.
The next two shots are from a Genesis with Power Base Convertor.
My tiny missile shooting towards a tank.
Not exactly Sega's programmers going all out to make this a killer app.
While in 3d you sometimes have to dodge obstacles that barely scroll, coming at you both ugly, and with barely any resizing, the BIG problem is the ground targets who shoot at you with seeking cannon shots that actually curve towards you and seem to hit if they are even in your remote vicinity.
The 3d levels basically require you to memorize the locations of enemies so you can either avoid them or shoot them with either guns or missiles (both work on ground and air targets in this mode, though missiles tend to drop towards the ground) as in general you are unable to dodge shots.
Control basically requires you to pound the main fire button endlessly and basically BEGS for turbo fire controllers. In top down mode missiles are best fired as needed due to the slower starting speed and having to hit moving ground targets. Or really really thin ones as missing as mentioned means waiting precious seconds for the shot to go off screen before you may fire again. I found all my controllers work though the Control Stick was absolutely MISERABLE, and the SMS Pad's long button travel can make things tough unless you have a way to get turbo fire out of them with a dongle or whatnot.
If you can manage to survive the 3d section it is back to top down mode where you fly by a boss and blow up targets on it while moving forwards and avoiding shots. Once complete, you gain a score bonus for number of targets hit which is where you will earn an extra life at 500K and then every million. You don't see your score or lives on screen as you play or even get a DING when you gain the extra life. When you die in level the screen shows you your lives remaining and it throws you right back in with only the closest enemies removes from the screen, yet without any actual invulnerability time so you might even die before you have a chance to react!
While only listed in the manual when you reach GAME OVER (and you will so very very much) holding a direction and pressing a button at that screen will give you a continue but you only get it twice.
And that's it. 4 stages of boring, unfun, ABUSE. Want to win? You basically have to memorize the entire game. No power ups to be found here, and not exactly a plethora of extra lives.
Master System Play: About the same as it is on the Genesis. So yay?
Rating: I am sorry to say this game is BAD. It is very hard and just not worth it. Super Thunder Blade on the Genesis more or less feels like an APOLOGY for this one. Almost every issue I have with this game it fixes. While still not the game the arcade title is it comes a lot closer and is much more fun. Outside of decent music this game is a boring and tedious slog you need a turbo fire and a very good memory for. This was a port of another Sega arcade game that was a technical demo and experience more than a proper game to enjoy in the long term. Sega did nothing to add in any depth of gameplay, merely made the game WORSE. This review took so long because I just wasn't enjoying it or making any progress. I had to go watch a review on youtube which gave me a little idea of what I could do to make some headway. And it still wasn't enough to make me want to fly through the ugly and hard to see tunnels in stage 2 that much!
Next Time: Let's see if the other air arcade game is any good. Let us go for After Burner!