Thursday, December 17, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Rolling Thunder 2

Retro Game of the Day! Rolling Thunder 2

Today's Retro Game of the Day is Rolling Thunder 2 by Namco - a rather sharp run 'n gun, or "slow Contra," that appeared in arcades and then ported to Sega Genesis in 1991.

Let me start by saying this - Namco, have I got your ear? Headcase Games would loooOOoove to produce a current-gen reboot of the Rolling Thunder franchise. After spending a year and a half of our lives (apiece) working on Obsidian's "Alpha Protocol" (Action Spy RPG) we definitely have some chops in this area! And there's some great ideas kicking around in my head with where to take it. Contact me at or just paypal the first milestone payment to me if you like. Whichever you prefer.

Maybe a free download code for Pacman CE. Something. One of those Pacman hats that the cute booth girls wear at conventions. I dunno.

Back on track - Rolling Thunder 2 was a sequel to an earlier Namco hit, unsurprisingly titled Rolling Thunder. A staple of my bowling-alley videogaming days, I never heard (or expected) a sequel to the slow-paced but stylish blaster, but suddenly one appeared out of thin air for the Genesis (I never crossed paths with the arcade). It looked pretty funky in the magazines (funky as in.. I don't know if I am interested in this!) and a further rental cemented the notion.

Turns out I was wrong! Years later on a long plane trip, I picked up an old copy of this to keep occupied "it's Rolling Thunder, how bad can it be?" I put the first stages through their paces and got a little more into the meat of the game. I was surprised to find a very enjoyable and well-put together little adventure in there. Under my nose all of this time!

RT2 puts you in control of a high-class secret agent, Bond style, or his femme fatale accomplice - or the both of you at once (bonus!) in a quest to save the world from some funny-looking alien invaders (think mid-1970s Japanese Robot Show bad guy pilots..) Unlike the first outing, which placed you in a vast complex, this episode sends your agents all over the globe (colorfully) as they take down the enemies.

I was shocked to play through the levels and see how different and varied they got. Not outstanding, but definitely bigger and more involved than I had expected. The design got pretty tight as well, with decent platforming/shooting and a special front/back technique that is unique to the series. That was a further iteration of the "ducking into a doorway/closet" seen in the first game, and it lends itself to some pretty interesting gameplay elements this time around.

All in all, Rolling Thunder 2 is one of those games which represents the best of what I love about a game or film experience - I come in with little or no expectation, and come out pleasantly surprised and eager for more. I am very curious to pick through the 3rd installment at some point! In the meantime, a big thumbs up for number 2, give it a play and enjoy!

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