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US Gold Ltd
1988
Arcade: Action
£8.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

18,19
Phil South
Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair's resident cartoon spy, Phil Snout, rolls up his thunder and trots along the platforms of this latest US Gold arcade smash!

It's difficult to play arcade games these days, without thinking about the time when they'll certainly appear on your Spectrum. And sure enough, the other day, arriving home from the arcade after spending about three quid on Rolling Thunder, I found that Tizzy from US Gold had sent me a copy of the self-same game ... Tsk! And what a corky little number it is too! Why be like me and dribble all your spondulicks into an arcade piggy bank, when you can play it here and now for free on your own Spectroid?

Rolling Thunder if you haven't seen it (where've you been?) is a totally spondicious shoot 'em up, where you play the part of a sharp shooting undercover cop, codename Albatross, whose mission (should you choose to accept it) is to penetrate the underground fortress of the evil Geldra and rescue some unfortunate hostages. What's on his mind? Well, it seems that Geldra's got a plan to conquer the world, and it's up to the Rolling Thunder Undercover Police to stop him. So you break into the deserted warehouse, and search for the secret door. Suddenly you are plunged into the winding corridors of Geldra's underworld ... everywhere you turn, his hooded minions leap from doorways, spitting bullets from their pistols and broken limbs from their flying fists. You've got to be quick on the draw and a very fast runner if you want to rescue the hostages instead of joining them.

The format of Rolling Thunder could be described as a sort of deluxe platform game, with two-way/left to right scrolling (sometimes even up and down!) with most of the action taking place on two levels.

The upper level is a catwalk high above your head, which you can leap up to by pressing fire and up at the same time. Along each level leading down to Geldra's Palace, are doors through which his minions spring, ready to do you a mischief. There are five levels, which you must go through twice in order to get to your final objective. The second time around some new hazards are added, with things like laser cannons and precarious lava pits, making a difficult job impossible. That's the one thing I would say to you about Thunder: It's piggin' hard! It's one of the fastest shoot 'em ups I've played this month and, with the possible exception of US Gold's other biggie, Bedlam, the one requiring the most skill.

So make like a cold cure and don't waste a second. Nip down to the shop and get Rolling Thunder. You won't regret it.

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There are three types of doorways in the complex. There are normal door which open inwards, and sliding doors which slide to the right. The final type, and the type commonly found deeper down in the levels, is the turbo doors which slide straight up. Bear in mind that nipping into the doorways is a good way to avoid bullets.

There are only a couple of ways you can avoid a bullet besides ducking, so jumping up a level can sometimes save your life. But getting the joystick to do it for you is sometimes a bit tricky. Practice this move on lower levels so the skill won't desert you when the going gets tough.

In one of the warehouses, there is a stack of tyres. Not very dangerous, you might think, but this section can decide a game on its own. You have to jump over the edges of the tyres, making sure you don't stand on them. The reason being that some of Geldra's baddies are lurking inside the tyres. Stand up and they'll shoot!

Getting through the doors with a bullet sign on them allows you to fill up with single shot ammo. Although it's slower to shoot than automatic ammo, it lasts a lot longer, and you don't waste any if your finger hangs on the trigger a micro second longer than it needs to.

On one of the first levels you encounter, to the rear of the warehouse section of the game, you will come across a stack of packing cases. You soon realise that you have to climb these to continue through the section as there's a catwalk in the roof and no door on the ground.

At the end of the caves are the lava beds. Now these would be impassable if it wasn't for the handy little platforms. That makes it much easier, yes? Well it would, but for the fire demons who waft across the pits, blasting people to death. Unless you shoot them in time you'll be back in the crisp bag again.

As well as the single shot ammo, there are doors leading to Rapid Fire ammo, too. Collecting and conserving these is crucial to your being able to finish the game. So don't spray bullets around haphazardly. Try to squeeze single rounds on your way through the complex, and shoot to kill.

Once through the cosmetic parts of the complex, you begin penetrating deeper into the real hideout. The normal man-made corridors become rougher as your enter the caves upon which the complex was built. Further still and you begin walking over stalagmites, but still the villains pursue you.

Level six is just like level one, except for the fact that all of a sudden, high voltage laser nozzles prod out of the ceiling and begin strafing the ground. So you have top cope with more baddies than you had last time, plus avoid the laser beams... This is, unless you enjoy being a Walkers crisp.

Once you make it to the control room the first time around, you have completed the first objective and are sent back to the beginning again. You have to work through the same five levels again, with more baddies to shoot, until you take the control room again and go through it to Geldra's palace.

Although you don't actually see the hostages, they are released as soon as you destroy Geldra. This isn't easy, as you need to hit him with quite a lot of bullets before he'll die, and single shots just aren't quick enough. So collect as many machine gun tokens along the way as possible.

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Sometimes more difficult to get past than a laser, these bomb hurling minions can be pretty nasty. Just time your sprint very carefully, that's all. Then you can double back and blast him to get the machine gun.

Okay, so maybe it's not face-to-face, but you've got to hit Geldra as many times as you can before he can turn his evil magic on you. So perhaps shooting him in the back isn;t such a bad idea after all.