SHMUPS




THUNDERFORCE V
TECHNOSOFT - SATURN

Reviewed by Bill Whitman (Morrigan),

Thunder Force V is one incredible game for the SEGA Saturn. Unfortunately it will not be released in the US on the Saturn, but the good news is that Tecno Soft WILL BE DOING AN ENHANCED VERSION FOR THE PLAYSTATION, called "Thunder Force V Perfect System," needless to say I am excited! The game is also Dual Shock compatible and has brand new cinemas for the opening, middle, and end of the game, YAY!

Tecno Soft is also adding two new play modes, they are: time attack and digital viewer. In time attack, you try to beat the last boss as fast as you can and try to beat your best times. In digital viewer mode you can browse documents related to the game and check out production sketches. But to get these modes, you must beat the game first.

But on to the review:

Thunder Force V (TFV) has everything, the music is perfectly orchestrated, and it is 'hum-able'. This is a trait that games now just don't have. Take the Castlevania series, you hear the music in your sleep (Just like TF 2-5) but the Sony version you just can hum it. I really like its music but it's not memorable and I bet any Castlevania fan can hum the classic "1st Level Theme" (From Castlevania) or the Clocktower theme, you just can't do this in Castlevania: SOTN or many other recent games. Thankfully TFV has very memorable music and a few remixes from the older games thrown in.

The control dead on, its PERFECT - the best I have played in a shooter - at speed 4 I can weave and dodge the narrowest of corridors, unlike 3 and 4 where I has to slow the ship to get 1 ups and items, and they has great control but TFV takes the cake!

The graphics are beautiful 3D graphics (They can be pixelly at times, but not often), along with some really great level design, the perfect mix of 2D artwork and 3D modeling, all played in the classic 2D configuration. Aside from the environments the huge monstrous bosses are incredible and every level gets better as the game progresses. My favorite is stage(music track too) is from level 3, I just love this level but the others are not very far behind. To make things even better half way through the game you get an enhanced fighter and weapons upgrade, Just like in Lightening Force[sic] (Thunder Force IV in Japan - You get BLADE AND RAIL GUN). Later in that level you must defeat your fighter from Thunder Force IV, with awesome enhancements, including my favorite boss music from IV, It rocks!

As any Thunder Force fan knows the weapon System is awesome. You get the main gun (Blade upgraded), back shot (Rail gun upgraded), wave gun, free range (My favorite in this TF), and hunter (You need this weapon its cool ). There is a new feature in this one where instead of the old button tap to switch weapons, the weapons are mapped to a single button. Six buttons Five weapons and speed up, once you get to know where the weapons are on the controller it is so hard to go back.

There are many difficulty modes ranging from very easy to really hard, and you got it beat it 3 times on each mode to get the ending (You got to do it the third time without continuing). You even get rewarded for beating the game EACH TIME, unlike a lot of newer games, you get more options each time you play it. The game even records how many hours you have played, number of times you have played, how and how many times you beat it, it's a nice little feature. I can play this game 4-10 times in one sitting I love it so much, and unlike other shooters where you die very cheaply like R-type (bollocks! you never die cheap in R-Type! - Malc :), (Not R-type 3 though, the best in the series), if you die in TFV, IT'S YOUR FAULT. The hard mode may be too much for the average shooter enthusiast but practice makes perfect. ALL Thunder Force fans just can't wait to play the manic difficulty setting anyway (Man, thatís hard).

I do have 1 gripe about the game I WANT 1 MORE LEVEL, although that is a minor gripe. It has 7 levels but the last boss counts as one, I have some information that they are adding a new end or next to end boss that may help resolve this in the Sony version. I will have to let you know. I will own both versions even though I have the Saturn one it can be played in my CD player at home or in car, that is a plus since the Sony version you cant do that.

I would give TFV a 9.5/10 its the best shooter I have played, yes even better than Einhander (Its the music and slightly looser control) which I own and Thunder Force 3 (Believe me this was a tough decision), I have played TF3 almost once a day since I got it a few days after it was released (9 or so years ago), although I don't play it as much now. TFV is just plain and simple an old school shoot-em-up, you can't beat the gameplay and music! This is PURE Thunder Force!

Finally, here's a retouched scan of the box cover, and a montage of the Thunderforce series, which I did to commemmorate the series.

Written/Edited by: Bill Whitman (Morrigan)

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Beginning of level 1, large sharp worms hog the screen.

Level 1 Boss, sort of angelic yet downright nasty.



Mechanical Boss, with homing lasers. It's much more exciting to play than read my captions.

Another mecha boss. Look, you can probably work out whats going on yourself here



Your ship has 5 pretty groovy weapons, each of which has a super-power one-off shot mode. This one, funnily enough, is a laser.

I cant quite remember whats happening here. I know it looks like you've just killed it off, a la Darius Gaiden, but it spits out these laser lightshows as a nice effect while its alive.



Falling masonry in the underwater level. I'm not sure what level this is - You can choose how you tackle the first 3 levels just like Thunderforce 3.

Lovely bitmapped explosions to go with the plethora of polygons.


 


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