Thundercats logo

FROM the BBC TV series of the same name comes this tough hack-and-run game from Elite. The background story is that during an attack on the Cats-Lair by the malicious Molemen, servants of the evil Mumm-Ra kidnapped a handful of members from the Thundercats team.
Even worse, the kidnappers also stole the Eye of Thundera and, as we all know (don't we?), this charmed jewel holds the magical power of the Sword of Omens. Note the prevalent use of capital letters, essential for tales such as this.

The hero, Lion-O, was out to lunch when the raid took place, but has vowed to go to Castle Plundar to rescue the Eye and free his mates. Your job is to steer Lion-O safely through forests and underground caverns, duff up the baddies, rescue the lads and recapture the jewel.

Thundercats is a little like Psygnosis' Barbarian, a horizontal running, jumping, slashing and grabbing arcade adventure with enemy attackers coming non-stop out of the woodwork. Unlike Barbarian, it has continuous scrolling which makes for fast and furious action.

Whenever Lion-O is touched by an attacker - they come at him from both sides in what sometimes seems like a never-ending stream - he falls over, disintegrates and so loses one of his several lives. Fortunately for the gameplay, he is not placed right back at the beginning, just past the spot where he was hit. Once all of his lives are used up Lion-O has it all to do again.

The foes come in different sizes. The tall eagle-beaked ones can walk over any large object and from them there is no hiding place. The titchy Molemen who are blocked by obstacles such as huge rocks, can be jumped over or sliced with the sword if Lion-O goes down on one knee.

There are numerous other hazards such as gaping, water-filled pits. Leaping over one of these and landing slap-bang on an enemy on the other side happens all too frequently, so lightning reflexes are essential.

Bonus lives and points can be earned by leaping up and swordswatting various containers dotted around the landscape, usually high up in trees. Even better, some containers hold a weapon which, when the vessel is clouted, replaces the one Lion-O currently wields.

Weapons which are effective at long range are clearly welcome in a game when the enemy has an inexhaustible supply of troops.

The signature tune is first rate, catching the mood of the game just right; other sport effects add to the pleasure.
The graphics are colourful and fairly detailed, collision detection is excellent and the animation impressively smooth and realistic.
The pace very fast and the whole game a very tough challenge - perhaps just a shade too tough for those who are not so nimble with the joystick.

Anyone who likes fast-moving and testing leap-and-slash games should certainly enjoy this one. Thundercats is an impressive conversion, the best of this particular game for any home computer, and bodes well for further Elite products for the Amiga.

Thundercats logo

Price: £24.95

To be honest, I was not overly thrilled when I first heard that Elite had signed up the kiddie's cartoon Thundercats for conversion, primarily because there is not a lot you can do with a cartoon concerning 5 cat-like mutants and their battle against an Egyptian mummy. All my suspicions were confirmed with the 8-bit versions were released back in '87. It was indeed quite a drab and boring game.

Before I start moaning, which I inevitably will, I will give you a brief rundown of the plot. Lion-o, Lord of the Thundercats was happily residing on Third Earth, an alien planet, along with his feline buddies, when Mumm-ra, a pretty nasty chap with big muscles covered in bandages, came along and nicked the all-powerful Eye of Thundera, the source of the Thundercat's power (yawn). Lion-o is understandably a bit miffed and sets about, under your control, entering the domain of Mumm-ra to get it back. What all this adds up to is basically Rolling Thunder with cats. Not very promising.

Lion-o runs from left to right across a series of changing backgrounds on his quest for the Eye of Thundera, and is provided with a sword with which to deal with the blood-hungry minions that Mumm-ra sends out to thwart your progress. A quick stab of the fire button will send an enemy to meet its maker by dissolving it in stunning Amiga-vision.

As you make your way across the landscape, you will come across water-filled abysses that must be jumped over to progress. Mis-time your jump and poor 'ol Lion-o takes an early bath, and as cats hate water so much, he loses a life in the process. Lion-o can also lose a life by running into an enemy. The enemies are pretty fiendish, and vary from catmen, both large and small, and, on later levels, falcons and armoured wolfmen, who patrol the rocky platforms suspended above the water (particularly level 2). Extra lives are available by hitting pots held in the air with your sword, and more powerful weapons, such as laser gun are also available in this way.

Unlike a lot of Amiga software today, Thundercats makes no effort to look like an Amiga game. It is very similar to the ST version, which was no great shakes anyway. Although the sprites are reasonably well defined, the backdrops are bland, and animation surprisingly poor. The music is nothing to shout about (unless you want to shout "Turn that bloody awful music off!") and is accompanied by rather lacklustre in-game FX. The actual game itself is of a very poor quality, consisting of little more than 'run-bash-run-bash' monotony. There may be an initial attraction to get through the first couple of levels, but after that, the consistently uninteresting gameplay will soon have you reaching for the power switch.

Elite have released a couple of right corkers on the Amiga in the shape of Buggy Boy and Ikari Warriors, and both Paperboy and Ghosts 'n' Goblins looks set to be equally impressive. With such a long string of releases in such a short time, there had to be a duff one in there somewhere. And here it is.

Thundercats logo

Elite, £24.95 disk

As everybody knows, the Thundercats including Lion-o, fled their home planet of Thundera just before it was destroyed, and are travelling the stars in their lone spacecraft in search of a new home. They crashed on the Third Earth only to be threatened by another peril: the Ever-Living Mumm-Ra has kidnapped Tygra, Panthro and Wilykit and stolen the Eye of Thundera, a magical gem set into the hilt of Lion-o's Sword of Omens. Lion-o has to fight his way through 14 horizontally scrolling levels to get them back.

Luckily, the Sword of Omens is still powerful enough to crack enemy skulls and break into supply boxes which hold blaster pistols and extra lives (phew!). A life is lost on contact with a mutant, by falling into one of the pits which lie between platforms, or failing to complete a level within the time limit.

As you approach Mumm-Ra's fortress, Castle Plundar, your aims of cat liberation are realised. Tygra is rescued on completion of level three, Panthro can be saved on level eight, and Wilykit on stage 13. The final level is a showdown between the leaders of good and evil, as you face the mighty Mumm-ra, who stands guard over the jewel. Destroy him, and the Thundercats return to their lair for a relaxing bowl of cream. Miaaaooowwwwww...

Gordon Houghton It's a sad fact of life (sigh) that the production of most tie-ins is a matter of sticking aptly designed sprites into a sub-standard game format, such as a shoot 'em up or arcade adventure. Thundercats is a particular disappointment as I'm a tad fond of the cartoon programme. The Lion-o sprite closely resembles his TV counterpart as he runs through the levels killing horrible mutants, but the visual effect is spoiled by few frames of character animation and bland scenery. I don't know what piece of music is supposed to be playing, but it certainly isn't the Thundercats theme tune: the jolly sound effects are both annoying and inappropriate to the game's subject matter. Neither of these things would matter if the gameplay was anything special, but it's simply a Green Beret variant with a couple of sword moves replacing the dagger - and only one type of pick-up weapon. Thundercats is a potentially interesting license wasted on a basic kill-and-run platform scroller.
Maff Evans I don't know what all these kids see in the Thundercats cartoon (Oi! - Ed). The plot and characters are ropey even for a five-year-old's programme. Well, that's neither here nor there; the characters are popular, so there has to be a computer came license. The graphics do capture the general spirit of the cartoon drawings and the sound is the usual collection of thuds and crunches, but the game just doesn't hold together. It's simply a matter of running left to right, slashing your way through the monsters and jumping over obstacles - not really very thought provoking. With a character license such as this, the only thing that really works is a more complex arcade adventure but Elite have just plumped for the simple option. The game should only really be considered by fans of the cartoon.
Paul Glancey The gameplay in Thundercats holds little over that of Martech's tedious Vixen. It's more or less the same type of walk right-crouch-fire procedure but, unlike Vixen, play is challenging because the weaker weapons (the Sword of Omens is particularly puny) make defending Lion-o against the oncoming hordes of mutants a tortuous test of reactions. The inclusion of rescue missions give the game the sense of purpose Vixen lacks, but apart from these factors the game is unremarkable. After several trips as far as the end of level two, I found the whole thing growing more and more tedious. I'm sure that even rampant Lion-o groupies would want more from a Thundercats game than the short-lived thrill of seeing their heroes on the computer screen - this product wouldn't provide them with much beyond that.