Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
The Thunder Blade coin-op has been a prominent addition to arcades for some time now. This follow up to Afterburner features a high bucket seat on which players perch precariously as they fight for their country's salvation - and draw attention to themselves.
Set in a Central American hot spot, rebel forces launch an all-out attack on your country in a bid to overrun it. Time is running out and the rebels are close to victory. This desperate situation demands that the advanced attack helicopter, Thunder Blade is brought into the fray - with you as pilot.
The carnage is set over four stages in different parts of the country, each stage having three sections. The first section, a cityscape, is a vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up with helicopters to shoot down and tanks to drop missiles on.
The second features the 3-D element as you fly through caverns avoiding stone pillars and destroying enemy craft and vehicles.
The third section is set deep In the jungle and returns to verticalscrolling mode to confront the end-of-level enemy vehicle. Success brings the reward of further levels.
A young blade
The console game departs from the coin-op with freedom of movement restricted to flying down a solitary avenue between buildings, pillars of rock, jungles and oil tanks. A Stage has also been lost and attack sequences changed, although the constant onslaught by the enemy ensures a hard ride. The vertically scrolling stages are not the most challenging, but the 3-D section is a killer. Bullets home in with unerring accuracy and the speed of the action really gets the adrenalin going, more so in the later stages where the rebels throw everything they've got at you.
Unlike the coin-op, your ships height remains constant and the buildings below don't employ layered graphics to create the sensation of height. Perhaps the infamous Sega 3-D Glasses could have been utilised.
Thunder Blade will be a success not only thanks to its arcade roots but because payability and difficulty are pitched just right.
Two Mega Cartridge: £24.95
Sporting an excellent sprite of the Blue Thunder look-a-like helicopter, Thunder Blade shows off the Sega's capabilities well. Graphic definition and use of colour is an improvement over previous Sega games although still a little crude in the early stages. Like all good games, perseverance and progression are rewarded with better graphics which compare admirably with the coin-op.