Thunder Force IV

Last updated

Thunder Force IV
Thunder Force IV cover.png
Developer(s) Technosoft
Publisher(s) Technosoft
Series Thunder Force
Platform(s) Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Nintendo Switch
ReleaseSega Genesis
  • JP: July 24, 1992
  • NA: January 1993
  • EU: January 1993
Sega Saturn
  • JP: November 29, 1996
Nintendo Switch
  • WW: September 20, 2018
Genre(s) Shoot 'em up
Mode(s) Single-player

Thunder Force IV, [lower-alpha 1] known in North America as Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar, is a shoot 'em up video game developed and published by Technosoft for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive in 1992. It is the fourth installment in Technosoft's Thunder Force series, and the third and final one created for the Genesis. It was developed by the team at Technosoft that ported Devil's Crush to the Genesis rather than the team that developed the previous Thunder Force games. Like its predecessors, it is a horizontally scrolling shooter, but it also features extensive vertical scrolling with large playing fields.

Contents

The game was considered by journalists as one of the best shooters on the Genesis when it was launched. Critics especially praised the game's graphics, including the vertical and parallax scrolling for illustrating the immense environments. Some believed that underneath the graphical sheen, the gameplay was relatively average however. Thunder Force IV was rereleased on the Sega Saturn in 1996 and the Nintendo Switch in 2018.

Gameplay

Battling with a boss Thunder force 4 screenshot.png
Battling with a boss

Thunder Force IV is a horizontal shoot 'em up. [1] The story takes place two years after the events of Thunder Force III . The player takes on the role of a fighter pilot to battle the Ohn Empire, which is plotting the extinction of the human race. [2] The first four stages can be selected in any order. There are ten stages total. [3] They scroll horizontally automatically, [4] and the player can also explore up and down to scroll the screen vertically and reveal a larger playing field. [2] The player can change the speed of their ship at any time for easier maneuverability. [3] Scrolling up and down will reveal different waves of enemies the player can shoot down, as well as hidden power-ups. [3] [5] At the end of each stage is a boss, and sometimes there are bosses mid-stage. [4]

Some enemies will drop power-ups that if picked up by the player will arm the ship with new weaponry, including a variety of missiles and lasers that fire in different patterns. [4] Each weapon has advantages and drawbacks, and are more effective depending on the battle situation the player finds themselves in. [1] The player can hold multiple weapons and cycle through them at will. [3] Other power-ups include shields and satellite ships that revolve their ship and multiplies their firepower. [2] [5] Half-way through the game, the player gains a powerful "Thunder Sword" attack which deal massive damage to enemies. It requires that the player has two satellite ships. [1]

Development

Thunder Force IV was developed in Japan by Technosoft as the third Thunder Force game for the Sega Genesis (known as the Mega Drive outside North America). Only the sound department was brought over from the original staff of Thunder Force II (1988) and Thunder Force III (1990); the rest of the team had previously ported the pinball game Devil's Crush to the Genesis. They chose to develop Thunder Force IV when given the opportunity to develop an original game. Having taken the reins for the Thunder Force series, the team felt a responsibility to surpass the quality of earlier series titles. [6] They borrowed code from the previous games, and built upon it using what they learned when porting Devil's Crush. [6] The composer for Thunder Force IV previously worked on Thunder Force III and also composed some original music for Devil's Crush. The sound team staff, lead by Naosuke Arai, were fans of heavy metal, so they worked on finding a method to create an electric guitar sound using the Genesis's FM synthesizer. They ran into difficulties and eventually settled on using the system's distortion sound effects to positive results. [7]

Release

Technosoft held a promotional event for the game at a convention in Tokyo on June 7, 1992. [8] The event included a tournament, giving fans an early opportunity to play the game. [8] [9] The game was released in Japan on July 24, 1992, [8] [10] and in Europe and North America in January 1993. [11] [12] Sega of America renamed the North American version to Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar[ sic ]. [13]

The game was ported to the Sega Saturn as a part of Thunder Force:Gold Pack 2, a compilation disc released on November 29, 1996 in Japan. [14] [15] [16] The compilation also includes Thunder Force AC (an arcade port of Thunder Force III). [16] This version improved on the original by eliminating sluggish frame rate issues, adding an easier mode which gives the player bonus defensive abilities, as well as adding the fighter from Thunder Force III as a secret playable ship. [1] [16]

In 2016, Sega acquired the rights to the Thunder Force series, and announced they were looking to revive Thunder Force IV. [17] Two years later, in 2018, they announced a rerelease of Thunder Force IV along with other Sega games for the Nintendo Switch under the Sega Ages brand. [18] The game was released on September 20, 2018 along with Sonic the Hedgehog (1991). [19] [20] Players can choose between the Japanese and international versions and take advantage of the improvements and other features from the Saturn port. [21]

Reception

Reception
Review scores
PublicationScore
CVG 93% [4]
Famitsu 23/40 [10]
GameFan 96.5% [lower-alpha 2] [22]
Mega Drive Advanced Gaming 94% [3]
Mean Machines 87% [2]
Sega Force 88% [23]
Mega 81% [24]
SuperGame95/100 [25]

Thunder Force IV was quickly identified as one of the best Genesis shooters when it was released. [2] [4] [26] [22] [24] Critics agreed that the graphics were one of the game's best qualities. [2] [3] [4] [26] [24] [23] Mean Machines called them "state of the art" and highlighted the vertical scrolling for "evoking a sense of vastness." [2] The vertical scrolling also impressed other journalists. [2] [22] [23] Mega wrote that the landscapes were expansive, and appreciated the parallax scrolling effects. [24] The parallax scrolling was also picked up by Mega Drive Advanced Gaming , which called it "the most stunning use of parallax ever seen on the 16-bit Sega." They believed the game pushed the technical capabilities of the Mega Drive. [3] Other visual aspects highlighted by critics included the large sprites and smooth animation. [2] [4] Most critics liked the music and sound effects as well. [3] [4] [22] [23] Mega disliked the music, calling it "aimless, twittery, Japanese meanderings." [24] GameFan called the graphics and sound great quality considering the game was on a cartridge and not a CD. [22] The graphical quality came at a cost however, as some reviewers experienced slow frame rate issues when the screen was busy with action. [26] [23]

The high quality presentation of Thunder Force IV was not enough to cover up some concerns with its gameplay. While most critics enjoyed the game, even calling it "addictive" [4] and "pure adrenaline", [22] some thought the game lacked originality and felt like an average shooter. [2] [3] [24] Mean Machines wrote that it was similar to Thunder Force III and called it ""the best shoot 'em up you'll get on the Mega Drive, but suffers from complete lack of originality. This is the genre taken to its extreme." [2] Sega Force agreed that it was similar to the earlier Thunder Force games. [23] Mega added on to this, saying "beneath the graphical gymnastics of the surface, the game really is...decidedly average." [24] Critics that were more receptive to the gameplay commended the level of difficulty, the ability to pick the stage order, and the variety of weapons and power-ups. [4] [23]

Retrospective coverage

Thunder Force IV continues to be regarded as one of the best shoot 'em ups of its era. [1] [27] [28] IGN rated it as the fourth best classic shoot 'em up, calling it Technosoft's best shooter and "the pinnacle of Genesis shooters." [27] Retro Gamer placed it among their top ten Mega Drive games, praising its sense of scale, exotic environments, frenetic action, and graphical fidelity. [28] In another review, Retro Gamer called Thunder Force IV "Technosoft's masterpiece" and an essential game for shooter fans. [29] Both USGamer and Hardcore Gaming 101 discussed the game's presentation in high regard. [1] [30] Paul Brownlee, writing for Hardcore Gaming 101, called it one of the best looking Genesis games and said of the soundtrack: "it's one of the best on the system from both an artistic and technical standpoint, standing among greats such as Streets of Rage 2 and MUSHA ." [1]

Notes

  1. Japanese: サンダーフォースIV Hepburn: Sandā Fōsu IV
  2. Average of two reviews: 98% and 95%

Related Research Articles

<i>Zero Wing</i> 1989 side-scrolling shoot em up arcade game

Zero Wing is a 1989 horizontally scrolling shooter arcade video game developed by Toaplan and originally published in Japan by Namco and in North America by Williams Electronics. Controlling the ZIG space fighter craft, players assume the role of protagonist Trent in a last-ditch effort to overthrow the alien cyborg CATS. It was the eighth shoot 'em up game from Toaplan, and their fourteenth video game overall.

<i>Thunder Force</i> (video game) 1983 shoot em up video game

Thunder Force is a free-roaming scrolling shooter computer game released by Technosoft in 1983. It is the first game in the Thunder Force series. It was initially released for the X1 computer, and later appeared on the Sharp MZ-1500, PC-6001 mkII, and in 1985 on the PC-8801 mkII. In 1984, it was released for the FM-7 and PC-9801 computers as Thunder Force Construction, featuring an add-on that allowed players to create custom made areas, like a level editor or game creation system.

In the history of computer and video games, the fourth generation of game consoles began on October 30, 1987 with the Japanese release of NEC Home Electronics' PC Engine. Although NEC released the first console of this era, sales were mostly dominated by the rivalry between Nintendo's and Sega's consoles in North America: the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Genesis. Handheld systems released during this time include the Nintendo Game Boy, released in 1989, and the Sega Game Gear, first released in 1990.

<i>Gunstar Heroes</i> 1993 video game

Gunstar Heroes is a run and gun video game developed by Treasure and published by Sega. It was Treasure's debut game, originally released on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in 1993. The game's premise is centered around a pair of characters, the Gunstars, in their efforts to stop an evil empire from recovering four powerful gems. The characters can fire guns and perform a series of acrobatic maneuvers to fight enemies across each stage. There are four weapons in the game which can be combined with one another to create different shot types.

Technosoft was a Japanese video game developer and publisher based headquartered in Sasebo, Nagasaki. Also known as "Tecno Soft", the company was founded in February 1980 as Sasebo Microcomputer Center, before changing its name to Technosoft in 1982. The company primarily dealt with software for Japanese personal computers, including graphic toolsets and image processing software. Technosoft's first ventures into the video game market were with Snake & Snake and Feedback, both released in 1982, before seeing success with titles such as Thunder Force (1983) and Plasma Line (1984).

<i>Streets of Rage 2</i> 1992 video game

Streets of Rage 2, released in Japan as Bare Knuckle II: The Requiem of the Deadly Battle, is a side-scrolling beat 'em up video game published by Sega in 1992 for the Mega Drive/Genesis and developed by an ad hoc team of several companies: Sega, Ancient, Shout! Designworks, MNM Software and H.I.C. It is the second game in the Streets of Rage series, a sequel to Streets of Rage and followed by Streets of Rage 3 and Streets of Rage 4.

<i>Captain America and The Avengers</i> 1991 video game

Captain America and the Avengers is an arcade game developed and released by Data East in 1991. It features the Marvel Comics characters The Avengers in a side-scrolling brawling and shooting adventure to defeat the evil Red Skull. The game received ports for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy and Game Gear. A different Data East game was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

<i>Alisia Dragoon</i> 1992 video game

Alisia Dragoon is a 1992 platform game developed by Game Arts for the Sega Genesis. The player controls Alisia, a young woman who is on a quest to avenge her father and save the world. She can fire lightning from her hands and summon four faithful beasts to aid her. The game was published outside of Japan by Sega. Despite the acclaim the game received, it was not a commercial success. The game was also included on the Sega Genesis Mini, released in September 2019.

Menacer Video game accessory

The Menacer is a light gun peripheral released by Sega in 1992 for its Sega Genesis and Sega CD video game consoles. It was created in response to Nintendo's Super Scope and as Sega's successor to the Master System Light Phaser. The gun is built from three detachable parts, and communicates with the television via an infrared sensor. The Menacer was announced at the May 1992 Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago and was released later that year. The gun was bundled with a pack-in six-game cartridge of mostly shooting gallery games. Sega also released a Menacer bundle with Terminator 2: The Arcade Game.

Sega Genesis Fourth-generation home video game console and fourth developed by Sega

The Sega Genesis, known as the Mega Drive outside North America, is a 16-bit fourth-generation home video game console developed and sold by Sega. The Genesis is Sega's third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega released it as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, and later as the Genesis in North America in 1989. In 1990, it was distributed as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, Ozisoft in Australasia, and Tec Toy in Brazil. In South Korea, it was distributed by Samsung as the Super Gam*Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy.

<i>Thunder Force II</i> 1988 shoot em up video game

Thunder Force II (サンダーフォースII) is a scrolling shooter developed by Technosoft. It was first released in Japan on October 15, 1988 for the Sharp X68000 computer. A year later, it was ported to the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis game console and released in Japan, Europe, and the United States. Thunder Force II was one of the six launch titles for the U.S. Genesis release. The Genesis port was later included in Thunder Force Gold Pack Volume 1 for the Sega Saturn. It is the second chapter of the Thunder Force series.

<i>Thunder Force III</i> 1990 shoot em up video game

Thunder Force III (サンダーフォースIII) is a 1990 scrolling shooter game developed by Technosoft for the Sega Genesis. It is the third chapter in the Thunder Force series. It was then retooled into an arcade game named Thunder Force AC. In 1991, Thunder Force AC was ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System under the title Thunder Spirits.

<i>Thunder Force V</i> 1997 shoot em up video game

Thunder Force V is a 1997 Japanese side-scrolling shooter video game developed by Technosoft for the Sega Saturn. It is the fifth game in the Thunder Force series. Unlike previous games in the series, Thunder Force V uses polygons to model the larger enemy ships and some of the scenery, in addition to sprites. In 1998, Thunder Force V was ported to the PlayStation as Thunder Force V: Perfect System.

Thunder Force is a series of free-roaming scrolling shooter type video games developed by the Japanese software company Technosoft. The franchise is recognized for its distinctive gameplay, graphics, and synthesizer-based chiptune music soundtracks.

<i>Gley Lancer</i> 1992 video game

Gley Lancer is a 1992 scrolling shooter video game developed and published by Masaya for the Sega Mega Drive.

<i>MUSHA</i> 1990 video game

MUSHA is a vertically scrolling shooter developed by Compile and released for the Sega Genesis in 1990. An entry in Compile's shooter series, Aleste, MUSHA places the player in the role of a flying mecha pilot who must destroy a large super intelligent computer threatening planet Earth. The game had a working title of Aleste 2 and featured a style similar to the first game, but it was redirected to a Japanese aesthetic and speed metal soundtrack.

<i>Fire Shark</i> 1990 video game

Fire Shark is a 1989 vertically scrolling shooter arcade video game developed and originally published by Toaplan and Romstar in Japan, Europe, and North America. It is the sequel to Flying Shark, a game released in 1987 on multiple platforms. Set in the year 1991, the game focuses on a mysterious armada launching a worldwide attack from a small island in the Mediterranean Sea. Players take control of the titular biplane to counterattack the enemy forces.

<i>Elemental Master</i> 1990 video game

Elemental Master is a top down shoot 'em up video game developed by TechnoSoft for the Sega Mega Drive and released in 1990 in Japan, and in 1993 in North America by Renovation Products.

<i>Thunder Force VI</i> 2008 shoot em up game

Thunder Force VI is a 2008 horizontal-scrolling shooter video game developed and published for the PlayStation 2 by Sega. The game places the player in the role of a starship that must eradicate the Orn Faust empire before they destroy all of Earth. The player must complete each stage by shooting down enemies and avoiding collisions with them and their projectiles, using an arsenal of powerful weapons to destroy them. It is the sixth and final entry in the long-running Thunder Force video game franchise, and the only one to not be developed by series creator Technosoft.

M2 Co., Ltd. is a Japanese video game developer and publisher, best known for handling emulation of re-released games, such as some Sega Ages titles, Virtual Console titles for Nintendo systems and the 3D Classics series for the Nintendo 3DS. M2 has spent much of their recent time working for Konami, creating not only arcade compilations, but also an entirely new set of games for WiiWare under the ReBirth moniker.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Brownlee, Paul (April 17, 2008). "Lightening Force". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Megadrive review: Thunder Force IV" (PDF). Mean Machines. No. 24. September 1992. pp. 104–106. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Thunder Force IV" (PDF). Mega Drive Advanced Gaming. No. 2. October 1992. pp. 24–27. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Rand, Paul; Boone, Tim (October 1992). "Review: Thunder Force IV" (PDF). Computer and Video Games. No. 131. pp. 36–37. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  5. 1 2 Lightening Force instruction manual (PDF). North America: Sega. 1993. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 21, 2018.
  6. 1 2 "『サンダーフォースIII』はいかにして『セガ3D復刻アーカイブス3』に収録されることになったのか? 元テクノソフト新井氏を交えてのスタッフインタビュー". ファミ通.com (in Japanese). October 8, 2016. Archived from the original on April 29, 2018. (Translation Archived June 30, 2017, at the Wayback Machine )
  7. Manent, Mathieu; Mellado, Fabien; Latour, Franck; Clerc-Renaud, Antoine (2014). "Naosuke Arai". PlayStation Anthology. United States: Geeks Line. pp. 193–194. ISBN   9791093752327.
  8. 1 2 3 "Be-Mega Hot Menu: Thunder Force IV" (PDF). Beep! Megadrive (in Japanese). August 1992. pp. 44–48. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  9. "Software and Hardware News: Thunder Force IV" (PDF). Sega Mega Drive Advanced Gaming. No. 2. October 1992. p. 9. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  10. 1 2 "サンダーフォースIV [メガドライブ]". Famitsu . Enterbrain Inc. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  11. "Jahresüberblick 1993" (PDF). Play Time (in German). January 1994. p. 133. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  12. "Software Calendar" (PDF). Electronic Gaming Monthly. Vol. 6 no. 1. January 1993. p. 42. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  13. "Seven of the Stupidest Videogame Titles of All Time - GameZone". GameZone. May 4, 2012. Archived from the original on April 23, 2015. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  14. "サンダーフォース ゴールドパック2 [セガサターン]". Famitsu . Enterbrain Inc. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  15. "セガサターンソフトレビュー" (PDF). Sega Saturn Magazine (JP) (in Japanese). Vol. 22. December 27, 1996. p. 271. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 1, 2016.
  16. 1 2 3 McFerran, Damien (September 20, 2016). "Feature: The History Of Technosoft's Thunder Force Series". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on July 20, 2018. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  17. McFerran, Damien (September 19, 2016). "Sega Has Acquired The IP Of One Of Japan's Most Underrated Studios". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on September 26, 2017. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  18. Tucker, Kevin (April 14, 2018). "Sega Ages Lineup Bringing Classic Sonic, Phantasy Star and More to Nintendo Switch". Shacknews. Archived from the original on April 29, 2018. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  19. "SEGA AGES サンダーフォースIV". SEGA AGES(セガエイジス) (in Japanese). September 22, 2018. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  20. Craddock, Ryan (September 20, 2018). "Sega AGES Finally Launches In The West, Sonic And Thunder Force IV Available Now On Switch". Nintendo Life. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  21. Wong, Alistair (July 19, 2018). "Sega Ages Sonic The Hedgehog And Thunder Force IV To Come Out In August". Siliconera. Archived from the original on July 19, 2018. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  22. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Viewpoint, Thunder Force IV" (PDF). GameFan. Vol. 1 no. 1. October 1992. pp. 6, 18. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  23. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Reviewed!: Thunder Force IV" (PDF). Sega Force. No. 10. October 1992. pp. 54–56. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  24. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 West, Neil (October 1992). "Game Review: Thunderforce IV" (PDF). Mega. No. 1. pp. 48–49. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  25. "Saiu no Japao: Thunder Force IV". SuperGame (in Portuguese). No. 18. Brazil: Nova Cultura. January 1993. p. 12.
  26. 1 2 3 Captain Squideo (August 1993). "Genesis ProReview: Lightening Force" (PDF). GamePro. No. 59. p. 66. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  27. 1 2 Buchanan, Levi (April 8, 2008). "Top 10 Classic Shoot 'Em Ups". IGN. Archived from the original on August 22, 2017. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  28. 1 2 "Top Ten Mega Drive Games". Retro Gamer. January 7, 2014. Archived from the original on March 12, 2017. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  29. Thorpe, Nick (May 7, 2016). "Thunder Force IV". Retro Gamer. Archived from the original on September 24, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  30. "The USgamer Community Reflects on Sega Genesis". USgamer. October 25, 2013. Archived from the original on December 20, 2017. Retrieved July 21, 2018.