When they next start giving out Nobel Peace Prizes, Ocean's name is unlikely to be on the shortlist. Operation Thunderbolt is not a game designed to spread love between the nations. Opponents are distinctly foreign while the square-jawed heroes pack more ram than Rambo.
As with its predecessor, Operation Wolf, Thunderbolt concerns Roy Adams' attempt to rescue hostages from some 'imaginary' African country. This time the mission is so terrifyingly tough that there's a two player mode that gives our Roy a chance to bring along a friend in the shape of Hardy Jones.
Adams begins his mission in a street where a lot of men keep shooting at him in a pathetic attempt to distract attention from the fact that they're wearing tea towels round their heads. Rather than laugh at them, Roy blows them apart. Later on, these men stop wearing tea towels and turn out not to be Arabs at all but Africans. The plot thickens but Roy is not perturbed; he blows them apart all the same.
In fact, Mr Adams spends most of the eight levels blowing things apart, including cats and dogs which yelp and give birth to extra bombs and hand grenades. Streuth!
The shooting doesn't stop until Adams has rescued the hostages and made good his escape. With ammo in limited supply and the dastardly hijackers hiding out behind their hostages, shooting has to be accurate as well as enthusiastic. Idle blasting will leave you taking on four armoured cars with one bullet and a lot of dead hostages to boot.
Paul: Arcades are funny old places. They're full of really imaginative high tech games yet you'll still find crowds queuing for Thunderbolt despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that it's really just a glorified shooting gallery. I suppose it's a case of preferring guns to buttons.
Guns or no guns, I'm far too much of a wimp to play these sorts of games. Fortunately, while loitering around in Lunn Poly I found a coffee stained travel guide to "Thunderbolt Holidays To Africa - The Package That'll Give You A Packet". Jolly interesting it is too, so you can read it and I can go home.
Day One: Well boys and girls, it's going to be a brisk busty start to the holiday so remember to put a pair of sensible shoes on and bring along plenty of ammunition. The day will be spent in the street of a typical Arabic Town collecting souvenirs and trying to kill plenty of the natives.
Day Two: A fascinating visit to a charming village where the locals will greet you with warmth, grenades and their delightful hand crafted throwing knives. Lots to look at so don't blink or you might live to regret it. Then again you might not.
Day Three: An exciting drive through the beautiful countryside. The locals are fairly aggressive drivers so remember to keep one hand on the horn and the other on your machine gun.
Day Four: This African village has barely changed in the last four hundred years except for the addition of the odd gun tower and a few hundred friendly gun-toting natives.
Day Five: No holiday is complete without a cruise - and this is a cruise few of you will complete. Don't bother bringing along your St. Christopher unless you're sure he's a dab hand with a rocket launcher.
Day Six: This hotel is famous for providing a hostage on every floor and for the fighting skill of its concierges.
Day Seven: Morning: sadly this is the last day of the holiday so the party should make their way to the airport. The airplane must leave on time so don't let the locals delay you, however persuasive they may be.
Afternoon: And so it's onto the airplane but the holiday's still not over. We've arranged for you to join in the national sport of grenade catching. An explosive end to an adventure-packed holiday.
Well that's enough of the holiday guide (Just what I was thinking. Ed.) so let's get on with the game. Operation Thunderbolt is basically Operation Wolf with a little more to it. The graphics are detailed, colourful and full of action. One key difference is that in some of the levels scrolling is into the screen rather than horizontal. This is very effective when you're fighting your way down a street. Some of the scrolling is a bit jerky but I'm prepared to believe that this adds to the feel that you're running - that's what it says on this £20 note anyway.
Firing is either mouse or joystick controlled. Both are on the difficult side of impossible until you get your hands on a laser sight. In the arcade you can of course use the gun to give you a vague idea of where the bullets are going. Looking down the barrel of a mouse is a bit unhelpful, especially when the tail keeps getting in your eye.
Once you have the laser sight, things go more your way, provided you've got some bullets left. As with extra ammo, energy etc. the laser sight is gained by shooting open packages or animals - honestly! Problem is, of course, you're never quite sure what's in a package. Having risked life and limb to shoot one open, you find it contains yet another bullet proof jacket.
To criticise a game for being unfair may seem like sour grapes but hell, what's wrong with sour gapes, they make wine out of them don't they? So here goes. This game is unfair. You enter a new level with all the problems in which you left the last one - such as no ammo and little energy - but none of the advantages like laser sights. What are you supposed to have done with the flippin' things? Absent absentmindedly dropped them into the nearest river or bartered them for 200 imitation pearl ear-rings for the girls back home?
Another unusual feature of the game is its scoring. Although you have three lives, your score isn't carried forward to the next life so getting on the table isn't that easy. In fact the game overall is a real toughie. At the end of each level you can win extra points for your hits to shots ratio, so try and resist the temptation to use trillions of bullets.
Operation Thunderbolt is a superb conversion of a very popular arcade game. If you enjoy this style of shoot 'em up then you'll love Thunderbolt and will play it with joy while waiting for Ocean's next game - Invasion Italy 1990.