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A classic best left in the past
The arcade version of ThunderBlade is a true classic, another addition to a lineup of Sega hits that includes Afterburner, Outrun and Golden Axe. However, the home version suffered a little, largely due to the fact that the early hardware wasn't really up to the task of replicating the stunning graphics and intensity of the originals, thus making this a slightly disappointing experience. This one is another shooter, a genre that Sega handled particularly well, as evidenced by Space Harrier and other such games, only this time you're piloting a high powered helicopter. The story tells vaguely how it's your task to ensure that a coup fails to install a corrupt dictator in power but it's all pretty inconsequential stuff as what this game is really about is blowing things up. There are twelve stages on offer here, each of which plays out according to one of three styles. Two of these are broadly similar and are basically traditional vertically scrolling shooters, with the addition of the fact that you have to climb over buildings while bombing ground based enemies. The other one takes a 3D approach and throws in planes and other choppers to the enemy list and which plays out like some of the aforementioned games. ThunderBlade certainly isn't a bad game, and if you like your shooters hard and intense, it makes for an entertaining time. The action comes at you fast and furious and even genre veterans should find it challenging. The visuals are chunky and colourful but a bit jerky, while sound is not really up to much. However, it's difficult not to find the game feeling a bit tired and it is showing its age somewhat. Check it out for nostalgia's sake but don't expect it to be as good as you remember
Another SEGA classic
This is one of SEGA's slightly lesser known arcade shooters, which follows firmly in the footsteps of Afterburner and Space Harrier and while it might not have achieved the same classic status, it remains a slick and enjoyable shooter. There's not exactly an overabundance of plot or character here which is probably a good thing, as it allows the game to get on with what it does best and that's providing plenty of blasting action. Players take to the cockpit of a hi-tech attack chopper and must make their way through a series of levels which are a mix of 3D into-the-screen stages and vertically scrolling ones, more like Xenon 2 or other such shooters. Levels take you through cities, canyons and out to sea as you take out enemy planes aboard assault carriers and provide their own unique challenges in the form of attacking tanks, other choppers and various natural hazards. There's not much else to the game really but as undemanding vertically scrolling shooters go, this is pretty good stuff. The action comes thick, fast and furious, requiring nifty reflexes and a fast trigger finger to deal with the myriad obstacles coming your way. The array of weapons on display here is minimal, which may disappoint hardcore fans of sci-fi shooters like The Reap or G-Darius, but which isn't a major issue. The visuals are still pretty spectacular for a game of this age, with nice chunky sprites and some highly varied and well-detailed environments to fly through. Thunder Blade certainly isn't sophisticated or deep but it is an entertaining ride and brings back good memories of mis-spent youth in the arcades.