– Advertisement –
We all have our favourite eras. Maybe it was the peak of your youth, or you liked the fashion or music. Whatever your choice is, no-one will alter your thoughts on it no matter how hard they try. For me it was the 80s, and though I was only a young child, I now watch TV programs from that time and get sucked into the terrible costumes, and over the top stories.
Thunderflash from developer SEEP and publisher Ratalaika Games, is an 80s inspired action solo or two player game that lives up to the best films and TV programs that were available during the period. Bright colours, pixelated graphics, painful audio and a barely believable story are all chucked into the mixing pot to produce this all action shooting title.
An evil villain is planning on taking over the world. Kashmir is being overrun by a criminal organisation known as Bloody Wolf, only two heroes can save the day; Rock and Stan. These muscle bound action men love nothing more than to get strapped up and kill bad guys. Shoot helicopters, cars, boats and anything else that crosses your path. Humanity needs a hero, and you are more than happy to step up.
Like all old-school titles, this one is simple to play. Choose between several modes; Story, boss battle or survival. Select the number of credits you wish to have and finally pick standard or hardcore. Once you setup your game, you are thrown in at the deep end, with some missiles and a pistol. Wander around each stage, grab power-ups and new weapons, and shoot anything that moves.
The story mode has a loose plot, but allows you the freedom to go along with whatever drama is thrown in your way. Boss battle can only be accessed at the end and lets you test your skills against the enormous machines that you have taken down already. Survival is all about destroying bots, picking up new weapons and staying alive for as long as possible.
Vertical and side-scrolling action.
Like all the great shooters of the past, Thunderflash has used a simple approach to move from point A to B. The action flows around you as you walk past a constantly fluid industrial backdrop. Enemies approach from all directions, and it is your task to take them down one bullet at a time. The gameplay comprises 5 levels, each broken down into further segments. Like its peers, this has you tackling a variety of end stage bosses. Each of them gets bigger and more challenging than the last.
The boss battles are the exception of the scrolling action, and these encounters must be undertaken on a fixed 2D screen. It vastly reduced the difficulty of overcoming these overpowered tyrants. With a small amount of practice you can highlight the weaknesses and then pounce on them like a cat on a mouse. I found the ease at which I overcame these bosses disappointing; I don’t want it to be Dark Souls difficult! But I wanted it to push me more.
The difficulty increased considerably during the hardcore setting, mainly affecting the amount of damage incurred per shot. Yet, even this wasn’t much of a challenge. If you wished, you could simply run past every enemy from start to finish, like the A-Team, you needn’t fire one bullet or hurt one person on your way to victory. This somewhat tarnished both the all action approach and the retro gaming style.
Straight from the arcade.
This top-down shooter wouldn’t be out of place in any seaside arcade. The smooth action and CRT imagery screamed retro gaming. It made this stand out from most indie titles who try to replicate this era. The pixelated graphics and over the top sprites were well designed and made for a classic gaming experience. The backdrops altered slightly as you moved through each level. But the lack of details meant that they all blurred into a very samey image.
I’m sure all the TV directors from the 80s had a memo saying “make the soundtrack LOUD and AGGRESSIVE!” So this is what they all did. SEEP clearly received the same document as the high-tempo music gets you ready for a fight. The sound effects are just as in your face and over the top. The banging of rockets, the hissing of the gas from a flame thrower, and the thud of the bullets from your gun all rattle around your head as you look to complete the stage.
The lack of training may be a worry. Will you get your ass handed to you? Will you die immediately? Fear not though, as you’ll sail through the early stages without issue, and this carries on in every game mode, and against each boss. This reduces further still if you add in a second player, and you begin mowing down all your enemies with ease. If I was to be really picky, the weapons lack accuracy. But this is overcome when moving your hero around.
Played it, done it, got all the achievements! This is the standard response to a Ratalaika Games title, but this one adds a little more to get you coming back. Not all the story is told on completion, and you must finish it in one sitting, to see the entire plot. For players who wish to get full closure, this will add some challenge, and a few more hours of gameplay. The survival mode adds the most replay value, and is fun for a limited time. The high-score element adds a competitive edge, allowing you to challenge friends to beat your total.
Should this have stayed in the 80s?
This doesn’t go down as my favourite indie title that I’ve played recently, but I enjoyed my time with it. I chuckled at; the absurd plot, the badly translated text, and that every character is humongous. It captures the essence of early action games perfectly, and is worth a look at if you want a quick casual game, or you love the genre. Buy a copy here if you want a trip down memory lane! Can two heroes destroy a criminal organisation and save the day? Grab a gun, choose your character, and mow down anything in sight in this fast-paced old-school shooter.