Wednesday 1 July 2015

Operation Thunderbolt (SNES review)

Developer: Taito
Publisher: Taito
Released: 1994

Operation Thunderbolt is a port of the 1988 Arcade game that supports both the SNES Mouse and the Super Scope light gun.

In this sequel to Operation Wolf (1987, Arcades) your objective is to battle through eight stages and rescue the hostages from the hijacked plane. You can choose from a number of different characters but they don't seem to have any unique abilities or effects on the gameplay. A neat feature is that you can tackle the opening three levels in any order you'd like. Each level automatically scrolls along and you must kill enemies before they shoot or hit you with a projectile. You also have limited grenades you can fire to wipe out groups of terrorists or helicopters but take too many hits and you'll lose one of your three credits. Unfortunately, the gameplay is mindless as there's a constant stream of enemies and very little time to breathe or for the game to build up any tension. As a result, you'll mostly resort to just spraying bullets and seeing what lands rather than using pure skill. Things get even worse when the action becomes too hectic as the cursor starts jumping around the screen. It's especially annoying when you're trying to avoid shooting a released hostage and the cursor fails you! The game has multiple endings depending on how you perform in the final level. For example, if you accidentally kill the pilot you'll see the bad ending; kill the hijacker and you'll unlock the good ending. This is a great idea and while the game is short it does gives you incentive to replay the adventure. The graphics are disappointing with many dull colours, choppy animation and poor scaling; the game even looks like it belongs on the Turbografx-16 rather than the powerful SNES!

Operation Thunderbolt is an odd choice for a 1994 release considering the original came out six years earlier. As a result the gameplay seems dated and nothing has been refined or improved to justify its existence on the SNES.

Random trivia: The game was also ported to a number of home computers including the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum.

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