Thunder Force AC is arcade version of Thunder Force III, originally on the Sega Genisis. The game is one of many shooters in the Thunder Force series and is the one of the ones chosen for the SEGA AGES collection on Nintendo Switch. It’s not hard to understand why as this game was the one that Thunder Force fans would have likely played, being available in some form on the Sega Genisis, Sega Saturn, SNES and in the arcades in the early 1990s. Although Thunder Force IV came to the Switch years earlier.
That being said I don’t know how this stacks up against the other games in the franchise and I’m no auto scroller shooter fan, so my review of this game could be pretty limited. Regardless, it was an enjoyable, albeit mediocre hour or two experience.
You control a small spaceship having to shoot and mauver your way around obstacles, whether that be missiles, the environment or enemies themselves. Forward, back, up, down, diagonal, you’re not limited too much by the scrolling. The game has eight stages that you can complete rather quickly. I suspect a lot of the fun of this game comes from the settings and other extras.
There are several variables you can change such as the difficulties of which there are four, with two above standard. You can also change how many points you need for an extra life and another for how many lives you get back after using a continue (which is done by simulating the use of credits). For those that still find it too hard they can use Kids Mode where the punishments for dying are lessened, including you being able to keep your powerups.
Powerups consist of weapon types and CLAWs which are robots that shoot with you. Weapon types can be switch easily and the kinds of firepower you use in the game are fun to use because of their unique styles and uses. Some are like waves while others shoot both in front or behind you, something you usually can’t do. This and the unique types of enemies and situations the game presents you with an enjoyable experience, although I doubt the average player will rigorously replay the game after they beat it in about an hour.
If you have an interest in these kinds of games, you can test yourself with it. There’s a save function, but loading it means you can’t record your stats, as to keep true to the arcade experience. This means you can go for higher difficulties with lower lives and really have the freedom to test your skill at the game. The only question is whether you would want to do that and I’m betting most reading this review don’t.
With that in mind, Thunder Force AC is a game I would recommend only if you’re a scrolling shooter fan, or you have a thing for arcade games. If you’re not, it might be something for you to get on sale to play while you’re on the go, or just to give you that retro feel that you can only get from a 90’s game.