Thunder Blade (US Gold) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action

Thunder Blade
By U. S. Gold
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #40

Thunder Blade

US Gold's major push for Christmas is a helicopter shoot-'em-up in twelve stages. Your mission is to destroy an enemy fortress - only trouble is, the enemy themselves aren't too keen on the idea. "Hold onto your stomachs", you're told, "unscramble your brains for the journey of a lifetime as you take the controls of the most advanced 'chopper armaments specialists could ever conceive - outmanoeuvre the fastest jet fighter, outgun the most dangerous gunship! Traverse the war-torn skyline of a skyscraper city as you sharpen your skills for the battle ahead. Plunge out to sea for an epic encounter with an immense, heavily armoured gunship. Race on to a shoot-out in the rocky canyon and dense forests, where your flying expertise is tested to the limits as you dive, hover and skillfully manoeuvre your way through this fortified maze!"

Phew, quite a brief: but how does it translate into gameplay?

The view of your surroundings varies according to which stage of the game you're playing. There are 12 stages in all, some viewed from above and others from behind. Your helicopter is always central on the screen and what you see depends on how high up you are. The size of the helicopter remains constant and enemy vehicles and buildings change in proportion. There's also a score panel and lives indicator to remind you of how well (or badly) you're doing.

Thunder Blade

Stage one is viewed from above and your objective is to reach the end of the level blasting as many enemies as you can and avoiding their fire. Helicopters, though, even Thunderblade, are easy to knock out of the sky (ask Mike Smith). You're armed with bombs and bullets, the latter destroy things more easily.

In stage two the setup is virtually the same only this time you view the world from behind the helicopter. Buildings become more dangerous as you fly towards them and occasionally you lose sight of everything when a bomb explodes in front of you.

The third stage is set out in the middle of the ocean over a huge ship. Gun emplacements are scattered across the ship and must be dealt with before they get you. This section is also viewed from above, like the first.

Thunder Blade

Later stages of the game get progressively more difficult to complete: the fourth is set in a canyon filled with hostile forces and jagged outcrops of rock, while later stages have enemy boats to blast and hordes of screaming jets. Eventually you'll reach your ultimate objective, the heavily-defended enemy fortress which is going to take an unbelievable effort to destroy.

Thunderblade in the arcades had two things going for it: graphics and sound. With all arcade conversions the process of getting a game from the arcade onto a home micro is not easy and eight bit micros especially suffer from the transition. The graphics are good and sound effects are up to scratch, but don't expect the same game on your humble CPC as you saw in the arcade, or you'll be sorely disappointed.

I'd speculate that it won't be too long before arcade conversions become impossible on the eight bit micros because of the sheer processing power required to get some of the games running. But as long as arcade conversions are made, they will continue to sell. And US Gold will no doubt be continuing to sell them. If you want to see what they look like, try Thunderblade.

First Day Target

Thunder Blade

80,000 points

Second Opinion

Thunderblade is the sort of game its fans will love - by which I mean that those who really thrill to 8-bit conversions of coin-op arcade games will need no further recommendation.

Green Screen

Tricky in places

The Verdict

Thunder Blade

Graphics 69%
Terrain moves well in all viewing modes.
Bright and colourful graphics.

Sonics 59%
Good title tune. Explosive in-game effects.

Grab Factor 78%
Grab a stick and blast away.
Speed control is ackward initially.

Staying Power 73%
Twelve increasingly difficult stages to complete.
Kill some bad guys, kill some more, and then more...

Overall 74%
Not a turkey, but no award-winner either.

Gary Barrett

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