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Arcade: Adventure
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Mark Patterson
Chris Bourne

International Rescue are go on Grand Slam.

Also known as International Rescue, Thunderbirds was formed by millionaire technology tycoon Jeff Tracy in order to help avert international disasters by utilising a range of high tech craft and equipment under the guidance of his five sons, Scott, Alan, Virgil, John and Gordon, along with a number of support staff and bit parts.

Secrecy was the word: nobody knew where they came from, where they were based, or who was behind the organisation, and it's this secrecy that almost leads to International Rescue's downfall - and the plot of Thunderbirds the game.

The first scenario is pretty straightforward. There has been a mining accident which has resulted in two miners being trapped, lack of oxygen and a rapidly rising water level make time a critical factor. Two members of IR are used for this mission, one starting at the top of the mine, the other with the mole at the bottom. The first immediate task is to shut off the main water valve to prevent the mine flooding. The rest of the time is taken up avoiding rock falls and searching for the miners.

Without even a pause for thought after the rescue of the miners IR receive a call from the World Navy saying that their new nuclear submarine has been sabotaged by hood agents, and is at this moment lying crippled on the rim of an undersea volcano. On board are the captain and the 2nd officer who are prone to a variety of fates, like being bubbled alive by radiation.

Aside from rescuing the remaining crew members the radiation leak needs to be shut down and the sub re-floated by launching its remaining missiles and working out the right combination of doors and switches to empty it of water.

Well, it's all go at IR and after the sub mission the boys find that all details concerning the mission have been withheld by the sinister World Security Executive. The Tracy family then find out that their last two missions had been videotaped and were being held in a vault deep within the Bank of England. Definitely a job for Penelope and Parker - get inside and get out with the tape and documents, thus securing the secrecy of International Rescue.

It gets worse. HOOD have managed to get hold of the secret blueprints for the Thunderbird craft and are at this very moment analysing them at their secret headquarters at the north pole. This is definitely the toughest mission and towards the end it contains a rather surprising twist.

Thunderbirds is very well presented with a cartoon caricature of Jeff Tracy presenting each mission coupled with digitised sequences of the relevant craft. The graphics are clearly designed and recognisable, though they are reminiscent of the old Dan Dare game. Best of all is the sampled Thunderbird theme tune, which could almost carry the game single handed.

Though only mildly amusing at first, Thunderbirds does create an air of urgency around the player, forcing more and more game time, and it's quite easy to follow map-wise. All in all, a pretty slick piece of software that just falls short of an ACE rating.

Reviewer: Mark Patterson

Atari ST, £24.95dk, Out Now
Amiga, £19.99dk, Out Now
Spec 128, £12.95cs, £14.95dk, Out Now
Amstrad, £12.95cs, £14.95dk, Imminent
C64/128, £12.95cs, £14.95dk, Imminent
IBM PC, £24.99dk, Imminent

Initially slow, Thunderbirds soon picks up into an absorbing arcade adventure.


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Not surprisingly the graphics are monochrome but as with most games now hold their own well enough. My only real complaint about the Spectrum version is the price tag, even though it does come supplied with an audio tape.


The graphics and sound help capture the puppetlike feel of the characters. The puzzle solving and mapping elements are enough to keep anybody playing for a good time.

Graphics: 8/10

Audio: 9/10

IQ Factor: 8/10

Fun Factor: 8/10

Ace Rating: 800/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 55/100

1 hour: 80/100

1 day: 75/100

1 week: 70/100

1 month: 658/100

1 year: 48/100

Screenshot Text

Jeff Tracy prepares to brief International Rescue on the nature of their next mission.

At the bottom of the mine Brains waits by The Mole for his mission orders.

And here are the boys messing about in the sub on Mission 2.