Thunderforce 3 - Tecnosoft


Reviewed by Malc

I have to admit I used to prefer the SNES to the Megadrive. Think it was something to do with the low colour palette and slightly iffy sound on the wee black box. Recently though, my heart has warmed to the Sega beastie, probably due to the inordinate amount of REALLY good shmups available. The SNES just couldn't compete with the sheer quantity, instead it majored on churning out platform games.

Thunderforce 3 was the first game I had for the MD, after seeing it at a friend's house I just HAD to own it! The graphics were WAY above anything else seen at the time, and the blippy music suited the game perfectly, fast and driving and arcadey. The best bit was the way the end bosses wobblily rumbled off screen in shades of red when killed. You knew that mother was down:) The levels were fiendishly designed, scrolling in many directions and with lots of traps, extra 1-ups were hidden in hard-to-reach places, with fast moving enemies, filling the screen on harder settings.

The Thunderforce series hasn't changed much in it's transition from the original MSX game, through to the latest Saturn 3D effort, the fast and frantic nature of the gameplay has fortunately stayed pretty much intact.

The key to this is the powerup system, often essential to the nature of the gameplay.

Your ship has five different modes of attack, which can be powered up further by the acquisition of 'claws', small ship-ettes that circle your craft and multiply your firepower. Here's the weapon breakdown:

This is a CLAW (referred to as a CRAW sometimes, confusingly) It's your little chubby helper, aiding you in your quest of ridding the universe of the baddie menace. Getting a few of these will up your weapon capability.
Normal Shot: Forward firing bullets

With Claw attached: Forward firing lasers

Use against: Bosses and nasty sub-bosses you want to despatch quickly. Not good if there's a lot of small ships flee-ing about at the same time.

Normal Shot: Front and back shot, covering yer bottom.

With Claw attached: Reverse firing pulse shots, weak front shot

Use against: Anything coming up from behind. Great when you've just been wasted by someone coming in the trademans' entrance and you feel it might happen again.

Normal Shot: Single wave shot

With Claw attached: Multiple wide area wave

Use against: Only if there are lots of small baddies about. Not a powerful weapon.

Normal Shot: forward single shot and missiles

With Claw attached: Super missiles with claw pulses

Use against: Any static baddies (laser firers, gun emplacements)

Normal Shot: Homing shot

With Claw attached: Triple homing shot

Use against: The wimp's choice. (I use it a lot) Great for anything you can't be bothered aiming at. Not powerful.

So there you go. Can't say you're not prepared! Together with Compile, Red, Irem and Konami, Tecnosoft makes up my dream team of shmup developers, any shooter from that elite bunch is almost guaranteed to please! Thunderforce 3 is no exception, away and play it now!


Level one and things begin to hot up. This trap will get you a few times... you have to wait back a bit, then scoot through fast before the missiles launch and blow up.

Choose your level you want to start with first.


End of level 1 Boss tries to roast you with his hali-breath. Don't let him. He's nasty when he gets up close, as he spits out fast moving fireballs. Shoot the blue blob in his groin (!)


Level 2 is a speedy git. The background swirls around and is very offputting, but don't let it! Soon things speed up to almost unmanageable velocities, with pipes of lava shooting out from the flames. Clever players will manage to catch the hard to get 1-ups and weapons. Slower players will die trying:)

Seen here are the Bosses, two things with arms which circle round and spew bullets. Anyone noticed some similarities to Gate of Thunder here yet?


Level 3's mid boss. Watch out in this level for currents which actually move your ship around, often into the path of enemies.


Level 3's end boss. One of the harder mothers - the doughnuts are big and hard to avoid, but to top it all he (she?) has normal shots which usually are the ones to get you, because you're busy avoiding the roundies.


Level 4 has LOADS of traps....the background moves around, and you have to choose the right routes and get ready for any movement, as it doesn't hang about! Later on there are swinging rock piles, I've often blatted into these when I blinked.


Here's one of those traps.... You go down this corridor (the above corridor is blocked) and there's a dead-end speeding up ahead! I'll bet you crash into the scenery in frustration the first time, as you're sure you took the wrong way. Well, you won't now I've told you not to. Just stay back, and the scrolling slows, then reverses. As you wipe a bead of sweat from your nose, a git of a ship comes up from behind and blasts your posterior. Some people might like a blast up the bot, but I don't:)


Next level starts to scroll all over the place, up, down, squinty ways... There's not much difference in colour between the hittable foreground and harmless background, so be careful ok? This pic is of the boss, as you may have guessed. Not much of a challenge, but be on your guard for those «««« bullets!


Now we're starting to get near the main bad guys. A huge ship attacks, first of all with these large and shockingly basic looking lasers.

I think they let the janitor design them. Let's pretend we didn't see them.


You have to get inside the ship, from a small hatchway below it, and blow the mother up. I don't know what you think, but I'd quite like to get out of here before it explodes!!


After a level which is curiously similar to Gate of Thunder, you'll meet the alien's equivalent of fire doors. Blast through a few of these and ...


... negotiate some moving blockades ....


... bursting into the MAIN BOSS, catching him with his pants down. For a 9-year old game, this boss is fantastic. He splits up into a few pieces, parts fall off, and after a good few hundred hits, he dies horribly. Sit back smugly and guffaw at the end sequence.


GIGGLE! as you read the lines written by a monkey.

CHORTLE! as you stare in wonder at the gumf scrolling up the screen.

WINCE! as you realise they're quite, quite serious...

Peace my arse!


If you have a Saturn, it's also available on the Thunderforce packs. Pack 1 has Thunderforce 2 and 3, and Pack 2 has Thunderforce AC (Thunderspirits) and 4.

So now you know. And while we're at it, I wish Tecnosoft would decide if they have an 'H' in their name or not. - Malc


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie