Sega’s 3D classic range continues at pace with its helicopter based arcade game the next to get the makeover treatment. Thunder Blade has always struggled for a decent home conversion and now we have yet another definitive version of the game. Whether that is enough is another matter entirely.
Thunder Blade is a mix of top down and into the screen 3D sections. Both look rather good with the 3D effect on but it can be very difficult to take everything in when you are being pummelled by incoming fire.
There are only four levels which break down into three or four sections each. Each section requires the constant firing of guns and missiles to take out enemy tanks and jets and you’ll also need to keep your eyes open for scenery to avoid. The 3D effect does an excellent job in the top down sections of giving depth to the scenery so at least you can tell if you are about to fly into a building or not.
When flying into the screen it can all get a bit too much. You’ll need to weave in and out of obstacles and also avoid enemies crashing into you. These sections can be very frustrating as it’s difficult enough to move out of the way of gun fire without having to worry about a fighter jet you couldn’t even see flying straight into you. After this you move to take on a large boss which requires hovering over slowly while you blast away at its guns.
There are only four relatively short stages to get through and with a healthy amount of continues and a level select it’s likely you’ll whizz through everything on sheer willpower alone. There isn’t that much replay value either as aside from a new arranged mode which adds a section and moves a few things around you’ll feel you have seen everything the game has to offer.
Thunder Blade’s biggest problem is that it was never up to the standard of many other of the games in the 3D classics range even when it was first released. It’s both short and frustrating, but then it always was. This is certainly the best version of the game out there (and it now plays as well as you probably remembering it doing in arcade), but it’s still not that great.
Overall, 3D Thunder Blade will likely be something that fans of the original will enjoy in short bursts. But there isn’t really much here in truth. It’s a good technical achievement but once you’ve run through the game you’ll likely have little impetus to do it again and that’ll take you all of ten minutes. It’s nice to see it get another hurrah (and we’ll certainly never be returning to the Amstrad version), but we’ll be sticking with 3D Outrun for our 3D classics fun.