Publisher: Millennium
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Zzap #66


The game of the Millennium, groan, is Ground Defence Games. An audience of billions is captivated by the kamikaze bravery of pilots competing for the coveted title of 'Defender of The Ground'. The objective is simply to destroy all the robotic enemy forces, drones and drone generators, before they wipe out your base pyramids. If you lose your bases you're out; if you survive you go through to the next round. (The Games are set in five arenas with ten rounds per arena to survive.)

There are also five ships to choose from, each with different flight characteristics. Once in the arena a TV camera follows your ship, providing your remote perspective. You can use joystick or mouse to rotate, tilt, thrust and shoot.

There are two basic types of drone - Saboteur drones (which scuttle over to your bases and destroy them after ten seconds) and the rest, namely suicidal Lungers, Fighters, Gliders and the mine-laying Bombers. Impacting with drones can knock your energy for six and if you lose all energy you're out of the contest.


So it's a good idea to take out drone generator bases first, then the drones. Destroyed drones often leave behind military hardware pods to improve your ship's firepower and energy. There's a guardian capsule to rotate around your ship destroying nearby drones, and a Turbo pod providing four turbos for short bursts of rapid acceleration.

One novel touch is a black track crisscrossing the arenas, you can Tracklock onto this and it'll move you around at high speed (useful for saving a faraway base). There's also a neat Head-Up-Display providing radar info at close and long range. You can also call up a map for long range navigation and offence/defence stats.

Destroy all drones and enemy bases to complete a round. Now your performance is assessed. If you get a low defence rating power points are taken off your manoeuvrability. Do well and points are added. On the higher rounds there's more enemy bases and faster, more determined enemies. After every tenth round, you win a trophy and move to another arena.



It's ironic that, while the scenario mocks F-29 as boring, Thunderstrike itself turns out to be simply an updated 3D Defender. The graphics are extremely impressive, I can't think of another game which allows you to fly over - and into! - such a complex, hilly landscape. F-29 and Fighter Bomber have pyramid mountains and leave it at that.

Thunderstrike cheats a bit, the camera doesn't follow you if the ship jumps up really dramatically, but it's still very nice to look at. The enemy drones are okay, it's surprising how many can attack at once, but they're usually shot at distance.

Tactics tend to be limited to spinning around with your finger on Fire. But then there's the old defend your bases/attack enemy bases decision, timing when to do what is crucial. The only problem is the lack of variety, the arcade action can't compensate for this.



It's nice to see such an imaginatively presented version of Defender: the 3D 'patchwork world' effect is about the best bit of the game. But unfortunately it's about the only improvement.

Slugging through ten rounds in the same arena is dull, but when you do get to a new arena the only real difference is the bases are further apart and the landscape changes colour and contours. There are no new gameplay elements, just another ten rounds to blast through.

A new arena and horizon colour every tenth level just isn't enough to keep me playing, this game needs variety badly. Give me DataStorm for a no-messing Defender game any day.



Presentation 83%
Plenty of minor options, such as mouse responsiveness, attractive static HUD, static screens and progress reports but no save features.

Graphics 79%
Good graded horizon and a fast-moving, technically excellent patchwork effect but drones are simplistic and variety is lacking.

Sound 52%
Functional effects but let down by inappropriate (and badly implemented) J. S. Bach tunelets and no ship engine noise.


Hookability 75%
The idea of Defender in 3D provides instant addiction...

Lastability 61%
...but a lack of new elements or missions limits long-term appeal.

Overall 65%
Visually very impressive 3D Defender but lacking depth.