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Super Thunder Blade

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Released: 1988

Genre: Shoot-'em-up

Format reviewed: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Sega

Sometimes a lengthy hiatus from a game can spell disaster for your nostalgia levels. One such example for me is Super Thunder Blade. What was once exciting and enjoyable is now a painful and frustrating game that almost feels like you’re steering a helicopter through a world made of giant scabs and cardboard boxes.

Released in 1987, the original Thunder Blade came out during that late-Eighties boom of novelty Sega sit-down arcades. Its cab took the shape of a futuristic helicopter seat, and the chopper that you steered in the game was controlled using a gearstick and a throttle. This peripheral gimmickry and an obvious connection with TV show Airwolf was enough to draw in the punters and helped them to look past the game’s obvious flaws – me included – and an SMS port was quickly turned around a year later. Fast-forward a couple of years, and – to coincide with the launch of the Mega Drive in Japan – Sega released launch sequels for two of its arcade games, Space Harrier and Thunder Blade.

Super Thunder Blade retained the faux-3D stylings of the arcade original but exposed the failing of the first game – that it tried too hard to impress. It spread itself too thin across two varying perspectives – face-on and top-down – and failed to shine in either. While the controls feel sturdy enough, the 3D sections feel amazingly washy and the overhead boss sections lack any sense of excitement – usually involving simply steering your ’copter left to right while pressing fire. And unless you can be bothered to memorise a safe flight path through all the chaos, the ridiculous amount of firepower the game continually blows in your face can be overwhelming at times.

It’s a shame that Sega didn’t spend a little more time ironing out the little niggles that would have otherwise made this game a real classic. If you’re a fan of Space Harrier you might want to give this a whirl, otherwise we urge you to seek out the sublime Under Defeat for a great example of a proper ’copter blaster.

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