This classic title was a very popular arcade game back in the day and home computer conversions were par for the course in the 1980s.
Namco's game was released in 1986 and the ZX Spectrum version arrived in 1988 courtesy of good old US Gold and Tiertex.
As far as side scrolling platform arcade games go, Rolling Thunder was up there with the likes of Green Beret in terms of playability and fast paced action. But could it be converted to the Speccy successfully?
Let's take a look...
|Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'....
The player took control of a spy (codenamed Albatross), a member of the WCPO's (World Crime Police Organization) also known as 'Rolling Thunder'.
Your mission was to save a missing female agent named Leila Blitz from a secret organisation named 'Geldra' who were plotting evil schemes in down town New York.
The game was a multi-directional scrolling affair with an upper and lower level for the player to negotiate. Usually you were able to leap between the top 'balcony' platform and ground floor on the game screen at will, with certain parts designed to keep you placed in the topmost or bottom part of the screen.
To make matters more difficult there were hundreds of evil hooded henchmen to take care of, with some of them popping out at you through doors and seemingly appearing from the woodwork.
In a cool twist though it was possible for you to go into these doors (sort of 'into' the screen) to hide for a moment and in some cases pick up weapons power-ups.
|Hooded Henchmen Everywhere!
It should be noted that there were varying enemies to face too; some of them required multiple hits to dispatch and some would try to walk right up to you and beat you to death!
As usual for games of this ilk there was a boss to defeat (the mighty 'Mabu' - the man behind the crime!) if you finally made it to the end. Beat him and you beat the game.
This game had been pretty popular down the amusement arcades and was one that I put a fair few ten pence's into. The ZX Spectrum version was met with mixed enthusiasm and it was pretty much regarded as being too tough to play. The scrolling was not really up to par (especially when you look at the likes of Green Beret, Cobra and Uridium) and this affected the playability greatly. For a game released in 1988 the sound effects are well below par, and the catchy tune that accompanies the arcade version is missing. I for one was a little disappointed in this conversion as it did not quite capture that magic of the arcade original; it was merely a decent enough game that could have been great.
The Test Of Time:
When you play this again you really notice the below par scrolling (it's not rubbish but it's not great either) and the jerkiness of the enemy sprites. There is a lack of detail in the backgrounds too. I like the fact that they went monochromatic in style but the environments lack depth. Overall not bad, but if like me, you are a fan of the original game then you probably will be left feeling a little on the empty side.
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download Rolling Thunder for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Arcade Game
RELEASE DATE: 1988
RELEASED BY: US Gold Software
PRICE: £8.99 - UK
You called down the thunder...
Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games