Sinclair User19th November 1987
Published in Sinclair User #71
Rolling Thunder is an astonishingly faithful conversion of the Namco com-op. It's a rollicking, shooty-shooty romp which brought the blood back to my cheeks and countless curses of frustration to my lips.
A horizontal scroller (and pleasingly smooth too). Rolling Thunder is a secret agent epic in which your task is to penetrate the headquarters of a sinister organisation dedicated to... er, being nasty. In this case their nastiness takes the form of kidnapping some poutaceous beauty who lies bound and gagged at the end of the last level. Incentive enough to complete the game, you might think, and since its up to you to rescue her...
The hooded villains, who look like particularly nasty Klu Klux Klansmen. don't hesitate to PUNCH! you in the gob, SHOOT! you in cold blood, BOMB! you from the balconies or DROWN! you in the lakes (OK Jenks so you've been watching Batman on TVAM too), so you should have no compunction about gunning them down. All the animation is beautifully done, from the running figures, to the death-defying vaults over the handrails and onto the balconies, to the valiant leaps across (and into) piles of tyres, from which you have to peep out to shoot down cheeky chappies.
Mr Thunder ("but you can call me 'Rolling' ") has a limited supply of bullets. This can be replenished by standing in front of doors and pushing the joystick up to enter and search rooms. Some are empty, so they're only any good as temporary hiding places - but that's a bit wimpish. Some contain bullets, and others contain more powerful guns which shoot 'megabullets'. These can kill a hood with a single shot, and so are much prized. The baddies collapse gracefully in a heap, whereas if you are shot or punched to death, you clutch your throat, fall in a pile and expire unpleasantly. While the backgrounds of balconies, doorways and barrels are nicely detailed there are also areas which are just green lumps, the significance of which I can't explain.
While Rolling Thunder is very much a quick-reaction shoot-em-up, you really have to plan your advance if you are to have any hope of surviving; leap to and from the balconies, and avoid fighting as much as possible; save up your bullets, watch out for hoods emerging unexpectedly from doors, and you might have a chance.
Rolling Thunder is very much like an immensely superior Kung-Fu Master. The graphics and animation are great, and it looks like there's enough gameplay to keep you occupied for many long sessions. The most successful coin-op conversion I've seen for a long time.
Great fun with this deceptively straightforward but stylishly programmed coin-op conversion.