Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Rolling Thunder

Today's game is none other than Rolling Thunder by Namco, who apparently have made much more than just Pac-Man, Galaga, Riiiiiidge Racer, Soul Caliber, and Katamari Diwhozeehwatsis.

Released back in 1986 to the arcades (and a couple years later showing on the NES), this game - supposedly based on a Japanese Manga or something - pitted you in the role of a Secret Agent tasked with delivering the world from the clutches of the Ku Klux Klan, or something like that. I daresay upon first investigation, it was quite remarkable how all of your enemies wore these quite colorful hoods - got to hand it to them for delivering that first in videogame history, I suppose...

Anyway, the game was your typical Shinobi-style affair - meander slowly to the right, dispatch your enemies, clear the level and continue to press forward, 2 hits and you're dead meat buddy. Shinobi, or a very slowed-down Contra. Unlike those games, this one was a little stiffer and therefore not the easiest game you'll come across. I don't think I've ever passed the second level! Despite it's difficulty, it remains a enjoyable affair that's easy on the eyes and easy to return to-

The gimmick here is that you've got limited ammo, wear that down and you get a verrrrry slowwww bullet until you replenish your ammo. Just as well, as you can duck into doors and find bonus weapons (machinegun, yeah!) or extra ammo, bonus points, health recharge, etc. The door checking was an interesting technique that's not really been done before so since, that I could tell, with a notable exception (later!) It was pretty cool though, you could duck into any doorway and just hang around in there, hidden from sight while your pursuers would look around "where the devil did he go?"

Gameplay is pretty fun and satisfying, as I mentioned the graphics, though fairly sparse overall, are quite atmospheric for what they are and do a good job of making you feel like you've stowed away into some secret underground lair. Bonus points for mood as it's one of the big draws of this game! The music is properly - uh - "secret agent-y" and does make you feel like you are a lanky, agile badass. The characters fill the world well and your guy just.. well, he looks nondescript, but very cool in spite of it!

An arcade sequel and a third console version followed, they were much easier - I will likely review them separately at some point. Also notable is Capcom's BLATANT ripoff, Dead Fox/Codename:Viper for the consoles - what, did they justhire the exact same production crew and slap a Bionic Commando skin on there? It was odd to see, but that game is worthwhile as well..

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