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Rolling Thunder by Snoopy
Game:Rolling ThunderCompany:Namco
Type:PlatformPlayers:1/2

In human terms, Rolling Thunder reminds me of one of those people who looks just as good at 50 as he/she does at 20. It was a very underrated game when it was released, and its time as a front line game came and went quietly, but over the years it has held its quality far better than many of its flashier contemporaries. And with good reason: Rolling Thunder is a solid all-around game with no real weaknesses.
Based on a manga (comic book) from Hong Kong of the same name, Rolling Thunder places you (at least initially) in the role of a male detective infiltrating the headquarters of a major criminal organization. Your partner was sent in ahead of you, but she has been caught. This is the girl you see on the computer screen during intermissions between areas. Thus, you must not only continue her mission of bringing down the organization, you must also rescue her in the process. Although Iím not that good yet, Iíve heard that once you rescue her, you have the option of using her as your character, which is really cool if itís true. Standing in your way are hordes of hooded bad guys (insert your own association here). You are armed with a gun and a limited supply of ammo, and in order to clear the place, you will have to blast lots of these hoods, plus plenty of weird, mutated animals. Owlbats, panthers, firemen, monkeymen, and other oddities stand in your way, and they all attack first and ask questions not at all! Fortunately there is plenty of ammo to refill your gun, and you can sometimes get a machine gun, which is very useful for plowing through a large group of guys in a short space of time.
Okay, you say, so far this sounds like a fairly standard shooter. What makes it so special? Lots of things. First, the game looks and sounds fantastic. The graphics are extremely faithful to the manga they came from. If you ever wondered about the extra tall, skinny characters in this game, thatís the way the original was drawn, a very nice touch. And the soundÖwell, what can I say? This, even years later, is still some of the best music I have ever heard in an arcade game. Period. I have never heard music that more accurately captured the pacing and flavor of the game it was created for. The sound effects are also excellent, with the tromp of your characterís footsteps walking across the floor (or scrunching in the jungle) and unusually good gun sounds, and the enemies groaning in pain when you shoot them should be used as a benchmark for death screams in the 1985-1990 period. Very well done.
Obviously, no game lasts on looks alone (my point at the beginning), and Rolling Thunder rules in the playability, replay, and challenge departments as well. This game is HARD. I have been playing sporadically for years, and the furthest I got before emulation was story 2 area 9. But I always returned for more, because this game just keeps drawing me back in. It is eminently replayable. Despite being a shooter, Rolling Thunder definitely falls in the "easy to learn, hard to master" category. Controls are simple, with a four- way joystick and two buttons, jump and fire. It doesnít get much easier, which is good because the game itself couldnít get much harder. Give Rolling Thunder a try. It is offered in both MAME and stand-alone. Both are well done, although neither quite matches the arcade yet in terms of sound quality, and I find in MAME the jump button sticks occasionally. Still, this is a "must play". You wonít regret it.
Graphics
9
10
Sound
Play Control
8
10
Challenge
Replay Value
9
7
Performance
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