Super Thunderblade (Mega Drive Review)




Arrrrrrgggghhhh!!  I want to write other words but Super Thunderblade has beaten it out of me!  Thunderblade on the Master System was a bit of a non-event, as helicopter games usually are, so I was surprised to learn that this was one of the launch titles chosen for the Mega Drive in 1988.  If you’ve not seen the original coin-op, ST is a shoot ‘em up whose levels consist of a view from behind the helicopter and then a top-down view when trying to defeat the “bosses”.


Both viewpoints actually showcase the Mega Drive’s increased power (from the 8-bit) pretty well.  The stages are colourful and more detailed than the 8-bit and the 3-D levels look way better than anything the Master System could conjure up.  And then the action starts.  The music and sound are horrendous.  The music for each stage sounds pretty much identical, with a few random notes thrown in here and there and don’t get me started on the FX.  You could let this pass if the gameplay wasn’t so unforgiving.




The levels prior to each boss feel narrow and confined.  Enemies will hurl heat seeking missiles at you in twos or threes, making it virtually impossible to escape without crashing into a building or large rock.  You can use the hover (or airbrake) to mitigate this somewhat, especially on stage 2 where you’ve got to dart in and out of rock formations whilst pummelling Apaches but this leaves you super vulnerable (see what I did there?) to the hordes of glowing balls homing in on you.  Your fire button rattles off a machine gun with periodic homing missiles, that’s it.


Get used to seeing this A LOT!
Get used to seeing this A LOT!


On normal, I lasted all of five minutes and only just made it past the mid-level tank boss.  You can change the difficulty to Easy and set your lives to the maximum number of seven but it’s still an absolute nightmare to master.  Which I suppose isn’t surprising given that there’s only four stages and each one is hardly mammoth in length.  If ever a game would benefit from more stages and a gradual learning curve, this is it.  Some good things, mostly bad things, is not the best way to launch a new console.




2 thoughts on “Super Thunderblade (Mega Drive Review)”

  1. I didn’t like this game back in the 90″s but I’ve been playing it recently and guess what? It’s actually pretty good. Forget that it’s supposed to be based on an arcade game that was running on equipment costing thousands (more people probably repeat Parrott fashion on how bad the Megadrive conversion is than actually played the arcade version). Just accept the game for what it is and keep your helicopters movements on screen following a square, box formation while shooting with the occasional bit of braking.
    It’s a game that grows on you the more you play it and once you get good enough to clear that 2nd stage and onwards until you eventually complete it, don’t be surprised if that 2nd level becomes one of your favourite levels in video game history.
    And there is one more bombshell to drop, I’ve been playing this recently on the At Games Megadrive…….. YES!…….. The At Games wired controller version that Autistic, soy boy collectors go in to hyperbolic meltdown over.
    Don’t get me wrong , it’s a bit choppy and jittery at times, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time playing it considering that I couldn’t be bothered with an original cartridge of this back in the day.
    So it’s a win for this game being better quality than most people think and a win for the At Games Megadrive which is also better than a lot of people think.

    1. Thanks for the comment and your thoughts Bob! Er, I will have another crack at it and for what it’s worth we think the At Games MD is a decent console for the price (hopefully the official Mega Drive Mini will smash it out of the water though!)

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