Guest review from TigerMacs
Many older gamers might remember playing run and gun games like Commando, Mercs, Midnight Resistance, Ikari Warriors and Heavy Barrel to name a few which were stables of arcades back in the 80’s and 90’s. SEEP productions and Ratalaika Games have released Thunderflash, what they call a “love letter” to these old games released on a multitude of platforms Pc, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch. The version reviews is for the Xbox One priced at £3.99.
The game starts up with a really cool title sequence with a really energetic theme, on the main menu you have the usual options, arcade mode, stage select, boss rush, survival and options with a best score display at the bottom. The Plot of Thunderflash is, you play as one of two members of the special forces team Thunderflash, either Sergeant Rock or Sergeant Stan and its your mission to infiltrate Kashmir to stop a criminal organisation called “Bloody Wolf” who has stolen a lot of technology from the US defence department. So you have to take down the leaders Prizrak and Bulldozer who are testing new weapons.
After the briefing about your mission you can select which character you would like to be and you are thrust into the game each mission is split across several stages the stages have interesting variety which break things up, like in one level you start in a jungle/urban environment and another you might be in a side scrolling snow level where your character sprite wears a cute little winter hat.
The shooting mechanics on the overhead scrolling stages are you can aim in 8 directions but you have to hold the direction to move the shooting and movement is a bit of a let down as the movement feels a bit too slow which doesn’t help when in some sections you either end up swarmed with enemies or when you end up moving further into a screen which spawns an enemy when you try to avoid it you always end up with a cheap hit. The forced side scrolling levels usually locks weapon fire to one direction while other side scrolling levels are similar to horizontal scrolling levels. You use the A button to fire your gun and the X button to fire rockets which you have a limited number of. You can find a variety of power ups dotted around the levels which replace your standard weapon for spread shot, flame throwers etc. Which are pretty fun just when you do end up back to the standard weapon you also realise the rate of fire seems a bit too slow.
Each level introduces a new type of enemy glass, like flamethrower enemies and grenadiers to name a few but it seems to stay with the same sets of enemies for the most part the bosses do have a variety in the end of mission boss battles along with a few mini bosses throw in where you do get to see some interesting sprite work, especially with character sprites with interesting animations and changes in their costumes over the course of the game. You also see some nice parallax scrolling in some of the stages or some interesting animation on the HUD. It also has a CRT filter option to try and give it the look of an arcade monitor but you can choose to switch it off.
The music and sound effects are interesting but it is kind of marred by audio issues where there’s popping and crackling when multiple sound effects are played at the same time I don’t know if this was an artistic choice to try and encapsulate the 80’s arcade feel but it does end up detracting a little bit, same way there are issues where you get stuck by terrain but the enemy is able to clip right through to attack you. Whether this was an oversight or an artistic choice is another question.
There are a variety of moves, from Arcade, Level select which you can play unlocked levels a Survival mode a Boss rush move, there is an option to play with 1 or 2 players but its just local only, which giving the current climate you can’t really have friends over to play. But there is a bug I did find where on a stage in the later missions the D-pad stops working to move the character up and down but still works when you want to fire the weapon left and right on a ladder. Which is very jarring when you have been using it for a majority of the game.
Also it feels at times they’ve tried to artificially extend the game either by dragging levels out or by locking certain missions behind a run through of the arcade mode where you star off with a cert number of lives and continues but you get more when you game over on your final life to use next game. I would recommend the game it’s a pretty interesting game at a reasonable price which is little a throwback to the 1980’s but there are some rough edges which do let down pacing the final presentation, maybe could’ve done with online multiplayer.