Flying the unfriendly skies.
While the modern era of consoles has continued to push gaming to greater heights, it has also facilitated access to the past. The power of new machines has facilitated emulation, but more important is the rise of digital games and expanded price structures. I’ll date myself by saying this, but back when I was a kid every game was the same price, which meant that smaller titles simply didn’t have a place in the market. Now that access to games is simpler and more cost-effective, older arcade games like Thunder Blade are finding new life.
Originally released in arcades in 1987, Thunder Blade is an on-rails flight shooter. Piloting a helicopter equipped with cannons and missiles, the player navigates through each stage to a boss fight at the end. The game is distinctive in that transitions from a top down to behind the back view of the helicopter during levels, mixing up the experience.
The game play has a classic arcade feel to it, and it’s brought into modern times with a host of control options. Thunder Blade supports the circle pad pro, gyro controls, and touch controls. After playing around with some of them I still preferred the standard controls, especially compared to the gyro controls, which felt like they required exaggerated movements to make changes in the helicopter’s flight.
Arcade games were designed to eat quarters, and Thunder Blade’s default gameplay is no different. Fortunately, the game has adjustable settings for difficulty and number of lives, which allowed me to back things off a bit and spend more time enjoying the game. I especially appreciated the extra lives during boss encounters, where my mobility was severely limited, and death sometimes felt unavoidable.
Thunder Blade is well done arcade port with lots of options that help to modernize the experience. Like most other old arcade games, personal interest is really what drives the game’s value. For players who either remember the arcade original or simply enjoy the style, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.