Thunderhawk (video game)

Last updated

Thunderhawk video-game cover.gif
European Sega CD cover art
Developer(s) Core Design
Publisher(s) Amiga & DOS
Core Design
Mega CD / Sega CD
Microsoft Windows
JVC Digital Studios
Producer(s) Jeremy Heath-Smith
Designer(s) Sarah Avory
Simon Phipps
Mark Price
Sean Dunlevy
Programmer(s) Sarah Avory
Artist(s) Jason Gee
Composer(s) Martin Walker
Platform(s) Amiga, DOS, Sega CD, Microsoft Windows
ReleaseAmiga & DOS
Sega CD
  • NA: January 1993
  • EU: 1993
Microsoft Windows
Genre(s) Combat flight simulator
Mode(s) Single-player

Thunderhawk, known as AH-3 Thunderstrike in North America, is a combat flight simulator video game developed by Core Design and released for the Amiga and DOS in 1992, for the Mega CD/Sega CD in 1993 and for Microsoft Windows in 1996. An Atari Jaguar CD port was planned but never released. [1] [2] An enhanced 32X port was planned but never released. In the game the player flies a fictional AH-73M attack helicopter.



The game consists of several campaigns for each one of ten world areas. The campaigns are themed around real events or activities in these areas (e.g. escorting a UN humanitarian convoy during the Bosnian War, fighting pirates in the South China Sea, etc.)

A typical campaign consists of four or five missions. Each mission has a primary objective that must be completed to successfully complete the mission, there are other targets in each missions such as tanks and SAM launchers but these are only used to help the player boost their score. The primary target is usually a major structure like an enemy base or a bridge.

Usually the player is equipped with a standard set of weapons - 16 missiles, 76 rockets, and a machine gun with unlimited ammunition. On some special missions the rockets are replaced by a weapon that is critical to the success of that particular mission, such as a runway cratering system when the primary objective is to destroy an airbase or a bomb when destruction of a bridge is the primary objective.

The control system for Thunderhawk was fairly unusual for the platforms supporting a mouse. It used the mouse for basic control, plus some keyboard input for rarely used commands. Moving the mouse would tilt the helicopter in the specified direction, and make it start moving in that direction. Pressing the left mouse button fires weapons. When the right mouse button was held, moving the mouse up and down changed altitude, while side to side yawed the helicopter side to side.


Review scores
MegaTech 91% [3]
Mega 91% [4]

The game received critical acclaim, and the Mega CD version was a bestseller in the UK. [5] Mega placed the game at #1 in their Top Mega-CD Games of All Time, [6] with the sequel Battlecorps being fourth on the same list. Retro Gamer included it on their list of top ten Mega-CD games. [7] Next Generation went farther, calling it "easily the best game ever released for the Sega CD." [8]


Thunderhawk spawned two sequels, Firestorm: Thunderhawk 2 and Thunderhawk: Operation Phoenix . Firestorm was created using the same game engine as the original Thunderhawk. [9] [10] Another Core game, Shellshock , also used the Thunderhawk engine. [8]

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  1. "Scene - Atari-News". Mega Fun (in German). No. 29. Computec Media Group GmbH & Co. KG. February 1995. p. 28. Archived from the original on 2 December 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  2. "Aktuelles - Hardcore". MAN!AC (in German). No. 17. Cybermedia. March 1995. p.  12.
  3. 'MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 5, May 1992.
  4. Mega review, issue 13, page 24, October 1993.
  5. Official Gallup UK Mega CD sales chart, March 1994, published in Mega issue 18.
  6. Mega magazine issue 26, page 74, Maverick Magazines, November 1994.
  7. "Top Ten Mega CD Games". 11 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  8. 1 2 "Shellshock". Next Generation . No. 14. Imagine Media. February 1996. pp. 86–87.
  9. "Blam! Machinehead". Sega Saturn Magazine . Emap International Limited (4): 24. February 1996.
  10. "In the Air Tonight". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (2): 120–1. November 1995.