There comes a time in a shoot-em-up fan's life when you look at a game
and just say "Why, God, why?" Thunder Blade is one of those games.
A translation of the arcade hit from way back when, the Sega Master
game isn't anything to write home about.
In the world of video games, as we all know, something needs saving
somewhere. You must take control of your helicopter, the Thunder Blade
of the game's title, to stop bad guys. (I know, every single bloody
shooter review we do, we bring up how lame these plots are. Sue us.)
You view the game from one of two perspectives...either the standard
overhead view, or a Space Harrier-ish behind the back view. The level
starts with an overhead view, goes into the 3D view, and then ends up
back in the overhead view for an assault on a rather large airship each
level. Then you go onto the next inspid level.
Neither of these views really work. For starters, the overhead scenes
are just boring and stupid. You only have two weapons, a standard unimpressive
"chain gun" (though there's absolutely no rapid fire capabilities)
and a slow moving missile that attacks enemies on the ground (i.e. tanks.)
That missile is a pain in the butt to use, since you can only fire one
at a time. In other words, miss and you'll have to wait a second before
shooting over another. That's it. Your entire arsenal.
Most of the time you'll simply be dodging enemy helicopters that
fly idiotically in pre-programmer patterns, although occasionally you'll
come across a chopper that shoots more bullets faster than you can ever
dream of. Die and you get sent back a little bit, forced to repeat
the agony until you get it right.
The 3D areas fare a little bit better, but not much. The main problem here
is that the enemy bullets move much to fast to actually be seen. Therefore,
the only real hope you have is to move around the screen as fast as you
can, and hope some enemy bullets don't hit you. This will be further
complicated in later levels, when you have to dodge obstacles littered
throughout the screen. As they say in Spanish, "Ah yi yi! No es bueno!"
The visual effects in the overhead levels are hardly worth noticing...
although they have more detail than your average NES game, it still ends
up looking bland and totally boring. The only nifty thing is the way
your shadow moves in comparison to the location of the helicopter. The behind-the-back scenes fare
somewhat better, at least moving fast. However, there is a cool
graphic of your crushed, flaming helicopter after you run out of lives. Musically...well, there's an annoying
tune that plays for each of two perspectives, and both of them suck.
Again, surprisingly, the only good tune is the Game Over one. The
horribly slow firing rate, boring weapons and the overall sluggishness of the helicopter
in the overhead scenes, and the so-quick-you-missed-it annoyance of
the 3D scenes just make the game worse.
While it may have been a popular game when it was released, Thunder Blade
just generally isn't a good game at all. Something else should definitely
be in order to fill your shooter fix.