Genre: Shmup Developer: Sega Enterprises Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1 Released: 1989
When The Sega Genesis was first released in 1989, we were all so awed by the launch titles that it made us think, “How did they finally make such an arcade-quality system with such high quality graphics?” The lineup was filled with quality tiles, including a fair share of arcade ports like Ghouls ‘N Ghosts and Forgotten Worlds. Sega itself was also well represented here, and when one thinks of their quality arcade translations, Super Thunder Blade comes to mind. One of the more anticipated releases, Super Thunder Blade had some incredible software scaling effects for its time.
I remember playing the original Thunder Blade arcade game back in 1988. The 3D effects were awesome, and it felt like you were really piloting a combat helicopter. The game was a smash hit in the arcade it got ported to the Sega Master System, in an abysmal home version. Sega realized their mistake and tried to make up for the error with the sequel, Super Thunder Blade.
Super Thunder Blade has even more enemies than the first game. Unlike the arcade version of Thunder Blade, there are now mid-level bosses as well. You get an awesome stage introduction of your chopper getting out of the bunkers (reminds me of Blue Thunder), which casts you immediately into oncoming enemies. The game plays most of the time in a behind-the-back view of the levels, but when you approach a level’s boss, the screen transforms into an overhead perspective. There are many enemies that range from tanks and fighting jets, to warships and robots, as well as enemy helicopters. They all have more or less the same firepower and blow up quite nicely (your chopper is nearly unstoppable!).
If you aren’t used to the awkward up-and-down controls, you can access the options menu and reverse it. You can also alter your starting number of lives and difficulty level. By default, the game starts with three lives, the normal control option, as well as the normal level of difficulty. The controls can also be adjusted. Buttons A and C are the gun and missile buttons. Button B is the air brake button, but are you really planning on slowing down?
Super Thunder Blade has an awesome soundtrack, and each stage has a different tune. The overall quality is evident- the bass line sounds awesome in the title screen- and is reminiscent of other arcade titles in style (Super Hang-On comes to mind). The sounds are decent enough and use those classic early Genesis sound effects that seemed to disappear within the first few years of releases.
This game is composed of four stages: the cityscape, the caverns, the naval base stage, and the nuclear power plant. After clearing stage one, you are given a continue option that can be used up to three times per game. Though initially hard, Super Thunder Blade can be dominated with enough practice, and your only real challenge coming in the later stages, especially the final one. There are a few tricks for getting past each stage without being hit, but that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Besides, if you need codes to pass a game that’s only four stages long, perhaps you’d be better off playing something else.
Overall, Super Thunder Blade will please longtime Sega arcade fans for many years to come. If you liked After Burner, Space Harrier, or G-LOC, you can’t go wrong with this game. Considering when it was released and how much of an improvement it is over the original, it’s about as close to arcade-perfect as the series ever got on a home console.
SCORE: 10 out of 10
Want another opinion on this game? Read our Double Take article!