Thunderbolt Collection is the latest re-release title by QuByte Interactive, this time aimed at the Shmup fans of the world. Grab some change, pull up a stool and let’s look at this collection eh?
Thunderbolt was a title that I had no idea about, I’ve played and do play a lot of Shmups yet seemingly the two presented on this collection had passed me by, a few Google searches later and I found out why I’d never heard of either of these titles.
Thunderbolt Fighting Plane on the NES and Thunderbolt II on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis was developed by GameTec who specialized in unlicensed releases for the consoles more commonly known as “bootleg” titles and could be found at alternative retailers.
Thunderbolt Collection compiles both titles in one package under the 8-Bit and 16-Bit options but it’s worth noting they are separate games, unlike Jim Power which was the same game just ported to different consoles.
Both titles feature the bare minimum in terms of story and reason as to why you’re flying a ship and taking down aliens, fortunately being Shoot Em Up and they don’t require in-depth lore and the like.
Thunderbolt Fighting Plane is quite impressive for an NES title with a serious amount of sprites on the screen at one time with only a bit of flicker and no slowdown.
The sprites are a little basic and the upgrades to your shot are a little confusing until you gather what each item does.
The game seems rather basic but does manage to look like a speed demon with its scrolling background until you reach the first boss which is more than happy to deprive you of lives with you fighting a rather clunky control speed and its quite small hitbox.
It’s not a terrible game but more of a curiosity rather than the main event which here seems to be Thunderbolt II.
Thunderbolt II feels a lot more like a traditional 16-bit Shmup, the graphics have been greatly improved, and you’ve got a bomb you can clear screens with and a rechargeable shield which means it isn’t one-hit death.
The U.I for the game is clean and you have a much easier time figuring out what the upgrades do and the different shot types.
Controls feel much smoother and your ship is a lot quicker to react meaning deaths don’t feel quite as cheap in this one compared to the last.
Sadly it’s not all gold here, the enemies have weird choppy animations and coupled with them flying in from every direction quite erratically means your first couple of flights are going to feel a little strange to adjust to.
I weirdly found myself getting bored of Thunderbolt II much quicker than the tougher and tougher NES version even though everything with the Mega Drive title felt much tighter.
While neither title was outright terrible, the unlicensed nature of them shines through and they almost feel like rough prototypes at times, especially when compared to other Shmups from the consoles these titles hail from.
In terms of extras, it’s the norm for the QuByte Classics series, save states, remappable controls and display options, nothing too fancy but get the job done and run the games fantastically.
Sadly you can’t 1cc with every release and this collection feels like the weakest release by the team yet, while the intention of releasing 2 titles that many will have missed due to their nature is fantastic and there is fun to be had here, there are far too many better Shmups to be had to recommend spending time with two curious bootlegs.
A curious collection but it just stops at being curious
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