Thunderhawk (video game)

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Thunderhawk video-game cover.gif
Developer(s) Core Design
Publisher(s) Core Design (original)
JVC Musical Industries (remake)
Producer(s) Jeremy Heath-Smith
Designer(s) Simon Phipps
Mark Price
Jason Gee
Sean Dunlevy
Programmer(s) Sarah Avory
Artist(s) Jason Gee
Composer(s) Martin Walker (original)
Martin Iveson (remake)
Platform(s) Amiga, MS-DOS, Sega CD
  • NA: 1992 (original)
  • NA: 1996 (remake)
Sega CD
  • NA: January 1993
  • EU: 1993
Genre(s) Combat flight simulation
Mode(s) Single-player

Thunderhawk, known as AH-3 Thunderstrike in North America, is a combat flight simulation video game developed and published by Core Design and released for Amiga and MS-DOS in 1992. A remake was made and published by JVC Musical Industries for Sega CD in 1993 and for MS-DOS in 1996. An Atari Jaguar CD port was planned but never released. [1] [2] 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.


The game received critical acclaim, and the Mega CD version was a bestseller in the UK. [6] Mega placed the game at #1 in their Top Mega-CD Games of All Time, [7] with the sequel Battlecorps being fourth on the same list. Retro Gamer included it on their list of top ten Mega-CD games. [8] Next Generation went farther, calling it "easily the best game ever released for the Sega CD." [9]


Thunderhawk spawned two sequels, Firestorm: Thunderhawk 2 and Thunderhawk: Operation Phoenix . Firestorm was created using the same game engine as the original Thunderhawk. [10] [11] Another Core game, Shellshock , also used the Thunderhawk engine. [9]

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  8. "Top Ten Mega CD Games". 11 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  9. 1 2 "Shellshock". Next Generation . No. 14. Imagine Media. February 1996. pp. 86–87.
  10. "Blam! Machinehead". Sega Saturn Magazine . Emap International Limited (4): 24. February 1996.
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