For this week’s Quality Control, I’m going with my second “also ran” from the the pages of Nintendo Power – the Technosoft shump Thunder Spirits. The game is the third game in the Thunder Force franchise, and the only game in the series to get released on the SNES.
The forces of the Galactic Federation are not faring well in their century long war with the ORN empire. The Empire has installed cloaking devices on 5 their planets that harbor major bases to shield them from Federation forces, and they’ve designed a special defensive system called Cerebus to keep major fleets from searching for them. The Federation’s only hope is the new LEO-03 “Styx” starfighter, which is small enough to slip through Cerebus’s defenses, but has enough firepower to destroy the Cerebus system and the cloaking devices.
This is a fun shump. I never felt overwhelmed by the number of projectiles on screen. I did die a lot, but the deaths were ones that I could avoid, with one sole exception (and even then, I still think I could have avoided it). Additionally, when you die you only lose your active special weapon, instead of all the special weapons you’ve unlocked.
The game does have some slowdown problems when you get a bunch of enemies and shots on screen, particularly when you’re firing your spread shot, and your options/”funnels” are firing their spread shots, and a bunch of enemies are coming on screen and maybe getting a shot off before they blow up, and others are in the midst of blowing up, and you can see how things get sluggish.
For all the game’s strengths, there are still some elements of trial-and-error gameplay here. In particular, there are some obstacles blocking the path in levels that can only be destroyed with certain weapons, instead with all weapons like in games like R-Type or Gradius. However, you won’t be able to tell what weapons work against the obstacle until you try the right one. Additionally, some of the levels which have you going through narrow areas quickly have some dead ends which you won’t know are there, until you get there.
This is one of the best shumps for the SNES, and one of the most approachable as well, in my opinion. If you have a SNES, or one of the SNES clones (which are easy to get), I would recommend picking up this game.