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5  |  Not Exactly Rolling...
Darryl B. , 4/29/2005 9:08:47 AM
The gameplay and all of Rolling Thunder 3 actually almost gets a rating of 6 from me, but a few factors made me deduct it a point, which I'll get to, as I'm sure Blood Serpent from (his nice little, totally dedicated to Rolling Thunder site) will probably be disappointed with this rating.

Anyway, Rolling Thunder was a pretty unique game when it hit the arcades in the 80s, due to having several, brief cinematic scenes (which I think R. Thunder was one of the first games to ever have those), along with being a scrolling shooter/platformer, which also made Thunder an early entry into the platform genre as well.

The game involved you, as a secret agent, rescuing a fellow agent that has been captured by a bunch of guys who accidentally got their KKK-type hoods mixed in with their regular laundry, as they wear very colorful costumes, definitely standing out in a crowd. You walk and shoot your way through hordes of Walt Disney-inspired, costumed thugs, which you're able to jump up and down from the ground level to the second floor of buildings to spray lead and go in and out of the buildings' doors to collect a weapon power-up and ammo. Unfortunately there's tons of doors everywhere in these areas, which the bad guys can come out (with very little warning) and either punch or shoot you, which you're only enabled two hits before you die, as the difficulty level is pretty high in this game.

Rolling Thunder 2 was a Japan-only release, so I can't comment on that, although versions for the original as well as this sequel made it to the NES console, R. Thunder 2 also made it to the Genesis, and 3 is an exclusive, and end of the Thunder series for now that I know of (at the time of this writing, in 2005), until one of those dreaded 3-D makeovers come out, which happens fairly often nowadays...

First off, the good things about this game: there's a decent homage to the original coin-op in the beginning, as the first level looks pretty much like a R. Thunder level from the original. The graphics are fairly good and you're given the addition of firing diagonally, which helps in cutting down the difficulty level somewhat. All the levels look different too, like the original.

Unfortunately, even though the graphics weren't bad, the animation is. The music and sound quality isn't a lot better, and GADS! What incredibly boring cinemas! All it shows is your character on a motorcycle, on the phone, etc., and even added dialogue doesn't help at all, as the original didn't have any, yet the images of your pursued, captured, then tortured fellow agent speaks volumes more than what they tried to accomplish here. (Maybe if they had the female agent answer the phone after she had just gotten out of the shower, all wet...but then, to be fair, they could have YOUR agent, Jay, answer the phone in his underwear, which wouldn't help either...)

Worst yet is the unbalanced game design, as the first two levels seemed incredibly hard at first to me, but then once I was finally able to pass through those after several hours, I just breezed through levels 3-7, which then levels 8-9 went back up on the difficulty level again, taking me a while to get through, and then the final level took me hours to figure out.

And then...guess WHAT? I BEAT the final level...after only the first, or maybe second, day of renting this game.

Well...the FIRST time around: then you start all over, as you're given a password to start over again if you don't want to go through the whole first wave once more, but the difficulty level is raised anew (of course). So that's what killed my rating on this, as I don't see much replay value in going through the first part, but then part two is even harder, and where's the fun in that? There's also a password for a second character to play and one or more secret levels as well (three, I think), but that's really not enough to save this game.

You're probably just better off playing the arcade original, if you can find it somewhere, or if you have the ROM for it.

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