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Old 11-14-2004, 07:42 PM   #56
Joe Redifer
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 20,144
Thunder Force II
Sega Genesis

The box art was completely different
than the artwork on the cartridge, which
was actually taken from the Japanese box.

Thunder Force II marked legendary developer TechnoSoft's entry into the home console market. Thunder Force and Thunder Force 2 were games for a Japanese computer system back in the day, and when the Mega Drive was released there they reprogrammed the second game and it became Thunder Force II MD (the "MD" was removed from the title for the US release, but if you know some tricks, you can get it to pop up on the Genesis). The game mainly concentrated on overhead free-flying shooting scenes, but also has typical side-scrolling action intertwined within. This is one of the most overlooked Genesis games, in my opinion. When people talk about Thunder Force, they never go back further in time than Thunder Force III. Well, we will here today.

The overhead stages were the bane of some
people's existence. I personally enjoyed them.

Graphics: 7/10
The graphics in Thunder Force II were good for it's time since it had multiple layers of scrolling and well drawn and designed enemies. But the side scrolling stages do lack a lot of detail. Most of the graphics detail went into the overhead maps, where you will see little glowing lights (like in stage 3) and lots of really cool design. The graphics get better as you progress, and the final side scrolling stage looks pretty cool. Everything is presented for you in 240p 60 frames per second.

The side scrolling stages were pretty
cool. Each stage had at least one midboss.

Sound: 8/10
The music is one of the best, if not THE best aspect about Thunder Force II. If you listen closely, you'll find that it is amazingly detailed. The music simply rocks, and it was the first 3rd party Mega Drive game to be produced in stereo, and the first video game I have ever heard in stereo myself. When I got it, I was playing with my Genesis hooked up with the RF modulator. When played this way, the Genesis only sends the right sound channel as a mono signal to the TV. In order to hear stereo, you need to plug into the headphones jack. Well one night a few days after I got the game, I did. And I was absolutely amazed not only with the music and the fact that it was in stereo, but all of the sound I was missing listening to the game through the RF connection as well! At the time game reviewer and editor Ed Semrad said in Game Player's magazine that this was the best music he had ever heard in a videogame (he worked for EGM at the same time). At the time, he was 100% correct. The sound effects are pretty much standard stuff, but they have a TechnoSoft unique-ness about them. Then there are the voices. In the game there is a bitchwhore who announces the weapons and power ups as you get them. She is the same bitchwhore used in every Thunder Force game, though it sounds like they added some filter or effect to her voice in this one. Most people cannot understand what she says, but I can. When she says "Breaker System On" when you get the invincibility shield, people go nuts trying to figure it out. Also the "destroy" weapon is pronounced "des-troy" and so on. Unintentionally funny. And whoever can figure out what is said at the beginning of the game should win a prize. I can decipher "Good Luck" and that's it. What the hell?
Red-Cell believes the voice says "If you think you need it, luck, good luck."
Some other interpretations of the startup voice include:
Originally Posted by Mike Olpin
The president of Sega orders soup from the Sega company cafeteria. The chef, who is partly deaf, doesn't understand the presidents cry for help as the steaming hot soup burns the flesh off the top of his mouth.

"This is extra heated!" cries the president.
"Louder" the chef says, but then realizes that the president is probably asking about the flavor of the soup. "Good Duck." he says, knowing that Campbells would want him to say the full name printed on the can.
"This is Extra Heated!" "Louder... Good Duck."
Originally Posted by Thomas Procyk
"Now you need defeat the.... HARBOR.... good luck!"
Oh no! This game was programmed in Japan... is the first stage a futuristic Pearl Harbor??!!!

I'm still not sure.
Any other takers?

As you can see in this picture here,
the music is absolutely fantastic!

Gameplay: 8/10
I can't believe how much they crammed into a 4 megabit cartridge. That's 512K. That's smaller than the size of this single review once all of the images are loaded (not counting the Quicktime or the MP3 file you can download)! The side scrolling stages are pretty much what you'd expect from a Thunder Force game. They're good, fun, and a bit tough at times. You cannot adjust speed in this game like you can later in the series. But you can cycle back AND forth with your weapon array. Most people hate the overhead scenes because it is not a straight up shooter. It is very confusing at first, but I grew to love 'em. You fly in your choice of 8 directions, and you are ALWAYS in motion. You can't stop or slow down ever. Your goal is to search for and destroy the 4 large bases in each stage (except for the last stage where you must destroy a large ship). Once you are done that, the game progresses. If you learn where the bases are, it is really easy. Check out this 5.3 MB Quicktime 6 file of me playing through stage 3, an overhead stage. Look how easy and fun it is! The game begins and ends with the overhead mode, and I can see why that would annoy people. TechnoSoft ditched the overhead mode in all of its sequels. This game offers several hours of gameplay before it can be beaten. Once you have learned all you need to know, you can probably get through the game in less than 45 minutes. But it's the learning that's so fun!

Portions of this stage were paid homage in
the Thunder Force Arcade game, also known as
Thunder Spirits on the Super Nintendo system.

Wrap up:
Thunder Force II is a great and very underrated game. Hell, it's worth it for the music alone.

Last edited by Joe Redifer; 11-24-2004 at 05:06 PM.
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