Last updated
Thexder cover.png
Cover for the DOS version
Designer(s) Hibiki Godai, Satoshi Uesaka
Composer(s) Hibiki Godai
Genre(s) Run and gun
Mode(s) Single-player

Thexder(テグザー,Teguzā) is a run and gun game from Game Arts, originally released as a PC game for the NEC PC-8001 in 1985 and subsequently ported to a number of other personal computer platforms throughout the 1980s and 1990s as well as the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Game Arts Co., Ltd. is a Japanese developer and publisher of video games located in Tokyo. Originally established in 1985 as a computer software company, it expanded into producing for a number of game console and handheld systems. Its President and CEO in 2007 was Yoichi Miyaji at which time it was a member of the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association of Japan (CESA). Its major trading partners then included Square Enix, Bandai Namco, Koei Tecmo, and Gung-Ho Online Entertainment, some of whom co-developed or produced games in cooperation with the company.

A PC game, also known as a computer game or personal computer game, is a type of video game played on a personal computer rather than a video game console or arcade machine. Its defining characteristics include: more diverse and user-determined gaming hardware and software; and generally greater capacity in input, processing, video and audio output. The uncoordinated nature of the PC game market, and now its lack of physical media, make precisely assessing its size difficult.

1985 saw many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Gradius, Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt.



In Thexder, the player controls a fighter robot that is able to transform into a jet.


Originally released in 1985 for the NEC PC-8801 platform in Japan, Game Arts licensed Thexder to Square in order to develop a conversion for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) game console. In 1987, Game Arts also developed a Thexder conversion for the MSX platform. The game was licensed to Sierra Entertainment for release in the United States. In 1987, Sierra ported the game to multiple platforms, including the IBM PC, Tandy Color Computer 3, Apple II, Apple IIGS, Apple Macintosh, and Tandy 1000 computer and became the company's best-selling title of 1987. [1] In 1988, Activision released the game in Europe on the Commodore Amiga. [2] By 1990, the game had sold over one million copies worldwide. [1]

Nintendo Entertainment System 8-bit home video game console released by Nintendo in 1983

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is an 8-bit home video game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It is a remodeled export version of the company's Family Computer (FC) platform in Japan, commonly known as the Famicom, which was launched on July 15, 1983. The NES was launched in the test markets of New York City and Los Angeles in 1985, with a full launch in the rest of North America and parts of Europe in 1986, followed by Australia and other European countries in 1987. Brazil saw only unlicensed clones until the official local release in 1993. In South Korea, it was packaged as the Hyundai Comboy and distributed by Hyundai Electronics which is now SK Hynix; the Comboy was released in 1989.

MSX family of standardized home computer architectures released between 1983 and 1990

MSX is a standardized home computer architecture, announced by Microsoft on June 16, 1983. It was conceived and marketed by Kazuhiko Nishi, then vice-president at Microsoft Japan and director at ASCII Corporation. Nishi conceived the project as an attempt to create unified standards among various home computing system manufacturers of the period.

Sierra Entertainment, Inc. was an American video game developer and publisher. Founded in 1979 as On-Line Systems, by Ken and Roberta Williams, Sierra was known primarily for their graphic adventure game series such as King's Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, Gabriel Knight, and Quest for Glory.


Thexder quickly became a best-selling hit selling over 500,000 copies. [3] The PC8801 platform was only popular in Japan and, despite home market success, Thexder garnered little attention abroad initially. With the conversion for the MSX (the best selling platform in Brazil and many east European countries) it became an international hit.

Compute! praised the Apple IIGS version of Thexder as the computer's "first true arcade game" with "excellent play value for your dollar". [4] In 1988, The Games Machine gave the Amiga version a 74% score. [2] In 1991, Dragon gave the Macintosh and PC/MS-DOS versions of the game each 4 out of 5 stars. [5] The game went on to sell over one million copies worldwide, becoming Game Arts' biggest selling title of 1987. [1] Thexder is considered an important breakthrough title for the run-and-gun shooter game genre, paving the way for titles such as Contra and Metal Slug . [6]


Compute!, often stylized as COMPUTE!, was an American home computer magazine that was published from 1979 to 1994. Its origins can be traced to 1978 in Len Lindsay's PET Gazette, one of the first magazines for the Commodore PET computer. In its 1980s heyday Compute! covered all major platforms, and several single-platform spinoffs of the magazine were launched. The most successful of these was Compute!'s Gazette, catering to VIC-20 and Commodore 64 computer users.

<i>The Games Machine</i> magazine

The Games Machine was a video game magazine that was published from 1987 until 1990 in the United Kingdom by Newsfield, which also published CRASH, Zzap!64, Amtix! and other magazines.

<i>Dragon</i> (magazine) magazine

Dragon was one of the two official magazines for source material for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game and associated products; Dungeon was the other.

Other games in the series

Thexder 2

Original release dates:
(MSX/PC-8801, Game Arts release)

1990-12-30 (DOS)
2003-03-10 (PC-8801, D4E release)

  • UK: 1990-12-30
  • NA: 1990-12-30
Release years by system:
1989 – MSX/PC-8801

Thexder 2, also known as Fire Hawk and Fire Hawk: Thexder – The Second Contact , was released in 1989 on MSX2 and 1990 on DOS. It retained the same concept as the original Thexder but added many improvements. The Fire Hawk robot had the same design as the Thexder: the main laser, shield, and ability to transform into a jet. It also had upgrades to allow it to launch guided missiles, and use special weapons found throughout the game. Obtaining special weapons caused a weapon carrier droid to be deployed, and if positioned correctly, would act as a shield against enemies. Graphics were improved from the original game, and game play was divided into sub-levels, with the fourth sub-level containing a "boss" enemy. It was also possible to restart later games at the beginning of a level previously visited.

Thexder 95

Original release date(s):
Release years by system:
1995 – Windows 95

Thexder 95 (also called Thexder for Windows 95) is a Windows 95 remake of the original Thexder game, which was built with Microsoft's Game SDK (precursor of DirectX). In this game, Thexder can become a tank and jet, and has a large number of new weapons, from grenades to thermal bombs. The game runs in multiple windows: the main view, and several smaller windows each having a different function, e.g., ammo count, map, and actual game, that the gamer could open, close, and resize at will during play. [7] It was also one of Sierra's showcase games at the launch of Windows 95.[ citation needed ]

Thexder & Fire Hawk

Original release date(s):
  • JP: July 15, 2005
(PC-8801, D4E release)
Release years by system:
July 15, 2005 – PC-8801

Thexder & Fire Hawk is a compilation that includes the MSX versions of Thexder and Thexder 2 . The compilation was designed by Hibiki Godai and Satoshi Uesaka, and was released in 2005 for the PC–8801.

Thexder Neo

Original release dates:
October 1, 2009 (PSP) [8]
January 28, 2010 (PS3)
Release years by system:
October 1, 2009 – PlayStation Portable (PSP) [8]
January 28, 2010 – PlayStation 3

Thexder Neo is a complete rework of the original PC game from 1985, released by Square Enix. [9] In early 2009, it was reported that Square Enix sent an application to the ESRB to receive a rating for a game titled "Thexder Neo". [10] Later that year, the game's existence was confirmed by Square Enix through an announcement at the 2009 Tokyo Game Show. [11] It was released worldwide on the PlayStation Network on October 1, 2009 as a download for the PlayStation Portable and on January 28, 2010 for the PlayStation 3. [8]

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Fire Hawk: Thexder - The Second Contact, also known as Firehawk: Thexder 2, Firehawk or Thexder II, is a video game developed and published by Game Arts for the MSX2, MS-DOS and PC-8801 in 1989 as a sequel to Thexder only in Japan. The MS-DOS version was later released by Sierra On-Line.


  1. 1 2 3 "Back Cover", Fire Hawk: Thexder The Second Contact , Game Arts & Sierra On-Line, 1990, retrieved 2012-02-10
  2. 1 2 The Games Machine 7, page 68.
  3. Storer, Andy (July 1988). "Thexder". ST/Amiga Format (1): 55. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  4. Trunzo, James V. (March 1988). "Thexder". Compute!. p. 21. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  5. Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia & Lesser, Kirk (December 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (176): 57–62.
  6. Travis Fahs. "The Leif Ericson Awards – Retro Feature at IGN". Retrieved 2011-09-06.
  7. "Thexder". Next Generation . No. 16. Imagine Media. April 1996. p. 95.
  8. 1 2 3 "Thexder NEO: Information". Square Enix. Retrieved 16 October 2009. Thexder NEO for the PlayStation Portable: October 1, 2009 […] Available worldwide via the PlayStation Store
  9. "Square Enix Ltd. announces Thexder NEO available exclusively for download via PlayStation Network". Square Enix. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 16 October 2009. Now you can experience the excitement of the original, complete with revamped graphics, a novice mode, six-player online races, and a host of other all-new features in Thexder NEO.
  10. "Square Enix revives "THEXDER", 80's robot action for PS3 and PSP – GIGAZINE". 2009-08-24. Archived from the original on 2012-07-09. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
  11. "Sony TGS lineup includes unannounced games, newly announced games". 2009-09-11. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
MobyGames online database of video games

MobyGames is a commercial website that catalogs video games both past and present via crowdsourcing. This includes over 260 gaming platforms and over 190,000 games. The site is supported by banner ads and by users paying to become patrons.

Internet Archive US non-profit organization founded in 1996 in San Francisco by Brewster Kahle

The Internet Archive is a San Francisco–based nonprofit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge." It provides free public access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, software applications/games, music, movies/videos, moving images, and millions of public-domain books. In addition to its archiving function, the Archive is an activist organization, advocating for a free and open Internet.

Thexder 95