Written: 9.12.11 Acquired: 2.12.06 Status: Cart only Price: $4
Dev: Toshiba Emi
If you were lucky like me, you had both the Genesis and SNES growing up. There was at least one Genesis game that I always wanted to see souped up on my SNES: Thunder Force III. I literally would have given an arm and leg for a Super NES version of Thunder Force, well, my bro's arm and leg anyhow. SNES owners were left with Thunder Spirits. How well does it hold up to the proud name? Let us take a closer look... Thunder Force on SNES -- it has to be THE ultimate game right?
THUNDER FORCE III MEMORIES
In early 2006 I went through a revival period where I was hunting down bits and pieces of my childhood. It started out innocently enough with a mighty comeback to the SNES on January 17, 2006. Then there was the epic magazine score on 3.19.06. Not before long I found myself repurchasing all things 8-bit Nintendo and Sega Genesis as well. On March 31, 2006, I met up with a stranger outside a local Albertsons. I remember it well. It was a Friday afternoon, 3 PM, and raining ghouls and ghosts. I met Kevin in the parking lot. He waved over to me sitting in his red Toyota pick-up. Standing outside, umbrella in hand, I watched as he spoke poetic of the games he was finally selling to me, mentioning how they had been sitting up in his attic for years and years now, and how they were all purchased brand new back in the day. A small cute beagle stood on the passenger seat, its head tilted as it looked at me quizzically. I got all five for a 20. Thunder Force III was a game I used to watch and play all the time back at Tommy and Denny's, way back in good old 1990. The game was a visual and sonic tour-de-force, and it really brought home for me the arcade experience that a home system had yet to deliver. I had always wanted to play the SNES version, but never did. Less than a month then into my SNES resurrection, I picked up a copy. But it wasn't until last Christmas that I finally fired up Thunder Spirits (Christmas Memoirs). Was the wait worth it? Better than Thunder Force III? Let's see...
THE STORY GOES...
The cybernetic computer that controls the planet Orn has long held a disdain for humans. It has surrounded itself with a formidable automated defense system consisting of four planets: Hydra, Gorgon, Saline, and Ellis. Motivated by its fear of the Commonwealth of Humanoid Planets, the computer has initiated a systematic plan to destroy the Commonwealth and enslave its members. The only hope for the Commonwealth is to intervene quickly... ... and destroy the cybernetic computer at the Orn-Core!
The Commonwealth has pooled its resources to develop its most technologically advanced fighter, the Vrax. This ship's diminutive size coupled with advanced stealth technology make it difficult to detect. Equipped with some of the most powerful weaponry ever to be deployed, it is easily the equal of ships many times its size
[Hmm, 1 guy 1 girl 1 ship... do I smell new fad? Maybe not -Ed.]
The Ultimate Thunder Force Game?
How can you go wrong with Thunder Force SNES style, right? ...
Very handy thing, this. Be sure to turn Rapid on to maintain sanity
All the classic TF weapons you loved -- this is just one of them
Be sure to blast these red ships. They carry new weapons, shields and the CLAW, a special and extremely valuable weapon. It attaches two orbiting drones to your ship which can intercept enemy attack. In addition, these drones will fire the same weapons as your ship, increasing the effectiveness of any gun you use. Sweetness Still got the bloody cool voice-over effect of... "SHIELD!"
On a list of classic video game bosses, Gargoyle's sure to be there
With appetizers like this, who needs the main course!
I sure do. Thunder Force III harbors many good memories for me
If not outright kill ya! [Hey Sherry ya got this one mmkay? -Gene]
It sure was. Too bad then Toshiba Emi developed the SNES port...
Indeed, the end boss for Gorgon were the Twin Balcams
[Gene! You told me this planet was the easiest! GRR! -Sherry]
Saline is one of my favorite stages of the eight
[First time in your life you've been right, I see -Ed.]
Actually there's three... [See what I mean? -Ed.]
After Snake Eyes you'll battle with a memorable mid-boss minion
Sadly only the first three levels are cool, the rest to me were meh
Can you save the universe? Get the girl? [PUH-LEASE! -Sherry]
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID + CHEATS
For a Thunder Force game hitting the SNES, Thunder Spirits received very little fanfare. EGM boys gave it ratings of 5, 5 and 4 while Super Play scored it 73%. On the internet, majority opinion highly favors Thunder Force III (although Thunder Spirits is technically a port of Thunder Force AC, so players expecting a magic carbon copy of TF III with SNES trimmings will be quite disappointed)
Here's a handy cheat: during the game pause and press select 10 times followed by L, R, R, then select. Now you can press Y to add a shield, X to add a Claw, and A to add and upgrade weapons. Now you're sure to beat the game on Maniac
"PEEK-A-BOO! I KILL YOU!"
Nearly 20 years wondering if this was *THE* ultimate Thunder Force game... a dream game which would combine one of my favorite Genesis titles with the souped up capabilities of the awesome SNES. So much for that dream. The graphics and sound just do not live up to the lofty expectations of the SNES. You wonder what would have happened had TechnoSoft made this instead of Toshiba Emi. The bosses don't look as impressive or intimidating as they did in the Genesis version. The music is actually pretty solid, but kind of ruined by the weak sound effects. I loved the first three stages, but after that they leave something to be desired... with too many same-y, space-y stages. Gargoyle definitely lost a lot of his charm. It's just not what I expected. It's just not the ultimate Thunder Force experience Don't have high expectations, and you might like Thunder Spirits
Still, it is Thunder Force, and that alone has some merit. The game does have spots of slowdown, but overall, is certainly playable and it has its moments of enjoyment. It's pretty nifty being able to switch weapons and ship speed with the trigger buttons (or during the pause screen). It also presents you a fairly stiff challenge, especially on the Maniac difficulty level. Unfortunately, you can't help but feel this was a rushed programming job, and certainly one that was handled with a lack of expertise and knowledge of the Super Nintendo's inner workings. Thunder Spirits should have been an awesome shooter. Instead it's rarely mentioned whenever folks talk about the best shooting games on SNES. It just doesn't do anything special. Even worse, you know the game didn't live up to its potential. There are too many moments where you just float around waiting for enemies to show up. It's not the frenetic in-your-face shooter that, say, Space Megaforce, is. Really a shame. It should have been the awesome Genesis game combined with epic SNES trimmings. Instead, it is simply a forgettable effort, and SNES owners are left with an inferior port of a shooting classic. Don't get me wrong, I do like and enjoy Thunder Spirits. It's just difficult to hide my disappointment that this game didn't knock it out of the park. Can't win 'em all!