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Entertaining mix of exploration and action
Anyone who has ever played and enjoyed the likes of Metroid (check out the fan re-make Metroid Redemption), Mega Man or Trantor should get a kick out of Thexder, a fairly obscure piece of run 'n' gun action that nevertheless provides a decent amount of enjoyable action. In many ways it's a fairly standard platform shooter, but it's got enough personality and neat ideas to make it worth spending a few hours of your time with. Players control a sort of battle mech which can also rather handily turn into a plane whenever they fancy and must basically navigate their way through a series of fairly large and diverse environments, blasting away at the numerous enemies which get in their way. These include the likes of gloomy caves and more futuristic, traditional sci-fi levels, while enemies include a cool mix of the organic and the mechanical. There's quite a lot of exploration to be enjoyed here which adds to the Metroid-style appeal while the enemies to be faced are visually diverse and highly challenging in their different attack patterns. Although not exactly over-burdened with complexity, Thexder is actually a really neat little game that harkens back to the golden of platforming. The various levels are well-structured and designed, and thanks to the way the environments change, there is a genuine sense of interest to find out what you will face next. The visuals are straightforward enough, but the sprites are nice and chunky, with good use of colour and which are smoothly animated, so when you combine this with the fast action and exploration, you have a great little retro shooter that makes for an entertaining ride.
Nice run and gun arcader
There are few epoques in early run and gun gaming, each with its very own look and style. This little game here is of what I would call the later proto era, as it isn't necessarily an Atari 2600 looking game, but neither does it jump into the NES era of graphics. What it reminds me mostly is the mechanics of Metroid II Return of Samus, though the setting is a more Sci Fi one, not that Metroid wasn't Sci Fi, but rather that the use of lasers and the morphing into a small ship of Thexder feels more Sci Fi than the caverns of the metroids. So, expect a good run and gun while aiming straight forward and diagonally and navigating your way on ground but also on air, as your protagonist will morph into a small space ship, Transformers style. Not a bad game, but the clash of pseudo 3D of some of the enemies with the crude blocky style of the backgrounds (as well as the crude animations) require a very specific taste to enjoy. So if you don't mind the kitsch of the early/mid 90s that was a staple of home computers back in the day, this will most probably be a great game for you too.