Thunder Fox (Genesis) review
"Thunder Fox for the Genesis, like the arcade version, features five intense levels of straightforward anti-terrorist ass-kicking. You'll have to tackle terrorists on their carrier, in their mining facility and their headquarters, among other locales. The knife you brought to the party just won’t cut it. But not to worry: as you stab, jump kick and 'somersault kick' foes into submission, they will give up the goods that they’re carrying. Flame throwers, assault rifles and single shot bazookas are all up for grabs in the wake of incapacitated insurgents."
Some games age well like fine wine—Thunder Fox is a disappointing port
Thunder Fox is an exciting, hard-hitting arcade game. Though it is short, it has a lot to offer. Taito has inexplicably gutted their game and left its remains to be stamped with the ''Official Sega Genesis Seal of Quality.'' An above average side-scrolling action game is relegated to the realms of the generic; something that will be met with indifference by most Genesis owners, but with incalculable disappointment by fans of the Thunder Fox coin-op.
I am one of those fans.
War is a blast
Thunder Fox for the Genesis, like the arcade version, features five intense levels of straightforward anti-terrorist ass-kicking. You'll have to tackle terrorists on their carrier, in their mining facility and their headquarters, among other locales. The knife you brought to the party just won’t cut it. But not to worry: as you stab, jump kick and 'somersault kick' foes into submission, they will give up the goods that they’re carrying. Flame throwers, assault rifles and single shot bazookas are all up for grabs in the wake of incapacitated insurgents. They all have limited ammunition, so they are best saved for use on tougher enemies.
The bad guys obviously did not know what they were up against. The million or so of them could not have known that two shirtless wonders like Thunder, (in the blue pants, representing thunder of course) and Fox (in the orange pants, because foxes are orange!) would be on their tail. The two tough guys had been planning the assault for months, but felt that they were ill-equipped to deal with the task at hand until the trip to Stitches had been made. Feeling that the coloured pants were fashionable enough, they tore off their sequined shirts and brandished their mothers' best knives. The terrorists were in trouble.
With names like Ginzara Gettas, Grason and Gadhilas, the baddies might have been called the G-Force. It’s no wonder they turned to a life of crime - imagine the teasing they must have endured growing up. The mainstay of the terrorist regime are knife wielding rejects from G.I. Joe’s Oktober Guard. The game calls them sergeants (can there be that many with that high a ranking?). These guys are like the pylons from that NES classic, Kung Fu - you can jump kick through waves of them without a hitch. There are also bearded strongmen, who will be the ones carrying weapons for you to take. Flying mines will rain down; little robot walkers with guns will creep along the ground, and their airborne cousins will swoop onto the screen. The toughest foe who’s not a boss would be the Gyro men (again with the 'G'), whose affinity for Greek food has somehow conditioned these acrobatic assailants to take multiple hits before they lay down.
Speaking of bosses, you get to face off with a helicopter; a reactor core of some sort; a musclebound, staff-twirling giant; an armoured car; and a rocket launcher-toting head honcho. After destroying the second level reactor, a timed escape sequence ensues that is pretty exciting, especially considering how early on in the game it occurs. The final boss encounter is also quite engaging, and it will have you sweating bullets, even on the generally easy Normal Mode.
Missing in Action
The unfortunate part, is that the arcade game had far more for you to do. The first and fifth levels offered you an army jeep complete with swiveling gun turret. You could inch along and use the gun to ensure your invincibility for almost the entire level, or you could simply mow down everything that was in your way, often leading to the premature and spectacular destruction of the vehicle. Stage two featured the use of ahead-of-their-time hovercraft in a side-scrolling shooter environment! Stage three began with a jet ski sequence made famous in Shinobi III, but perhaps pioneered here (probably not, but it’s nice to think so). All of this is missing in the Genesis version. But what is undeniably worst of all, is the omission of the two player simultaneous mode. Why Taito eviscerated their own game during the translation is beyond me. Surely all of the above could have been pulled off quite easily, even if it meant increasing the cartridge size ever so slightly. Taito has taken a simple game with lots of personality and extras, and made it a... simple game.
And while I thought that the graphics would have to be scaled down, they take more of a hit than I would have expected. Much of the parallax scrolling remains intact, but some horrid colouring rears its head, especially in the first level, which bears an ungodly resemblance to the first stage of Sword of Sodan. If you haven't played Sodan, believe me when I say that any comparison to that abomination cannot be good. Some of the music has been yanked as well, it seems, and although the tracks weren't something any Symphony Orchestra would play, some of them were quite catchy and memorable.
All in all, Thunder Fox for the Genesis represents a botched attempt by Taito to present their extremely fast and fun arcade game at home. Luckily for Sega fans, a botched translation of a game this enjoyable, still manages to be average.
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 22, 2003)
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