Low-poly gaming reminds me of the Sega Saturn and late 80s entertainment. Its simple but garish approach is tough to look at, but it fills you with nostalgia. Therefore, when I was offered Thunder Kid II: Null Mission, I thought, why not. Having covered its predecessor a while back, I had high hopes this would be an improvement. Would the team behind the original listen to the feedback, or will it be much the same?
Developed by Renegade Sector Games and Eastasiasoft Limited and published by the latter, this is a run and gun title. What’s more, it has an arcade edge, is distinctly retro, and uses an obscene plot. Consequently, it has 80s vibes, is tough to look at, and is brutal on your eardrums. However, I wasn’t willing to let that put me off.
Thunder Kid II: Null Mission lacks depth.
Like the original, Thunder Kid II: Null Mission seriously lacks depth. Its simple concept, repetitive gameplay, and lack of progression hold it back. On top of this, your enemies are weak, the levels are too basic, and the bosses are simply annoying. In short, it repeats the shortcomings of its predecessor. Subsequently, I was disappointed! I expected it to evolve past its understated fundamentals, but this never happened.
Though the concept failed to excite me, I loved the story. You take control of Thunder Kid as he aims to protect humanity again. This overpowered superhero won’t stop until everyone is safe. Thankfully, he steps up as the Robot Empire has returned. Accordingly, they have kidnapped every human and wish to take over planet Earth. Conveniently, however, they left Thunder Kid behind and they’ll rue this mistake. You must traverse 7 worlds, annihilate every foe, and send the Robot Empire packing.
Shoot and dodge.
The run and gun genre is renowned for its basic qualities. But, Thunder Kid II: Null Mission takes it too far. Each stage comprises an array of arenas connected by corridors. As you enter each one, you are faced with obstacles and foes. These must be overcome and then the action begins again. You’ll encounter flying machines, turrets, lasers, and grunts. Yet, with predictable movement and repetitive attack patterns, they offer little challenge. Sadly, the same can be said for the obstacles. These mind-numbingly simple obstructions are avoided easily. It was disappointing as you sauntered through each arena. I was desperate to be challenged, but this didn’t materialise.
The predictable nature of your foes was tedious. Consequently, the main mechanics of shooting and dodging were underwhelming. With some thought process and a little tactical nuance, you flew through every stage. Now, I’m not saying it needs to be the Dark Souls of the run and gun genre, but it’s too easy.
Alongside this, it is filled with bugs and glitches. First, the achievements don’t unlock. I understand this isn’t a major thing, but it is annoying nonetheless. Second, the environment sometimes kills you, and sometimes it doesn’t. Therefore, you never know what will happen. Finally, on one particular level, you become stuck in the rivers. This was annoying, as progression was nigh on impossible. These issues need resolving ASAP, otherwise, many players will be disgruntled.
Thunder Kid II: Null Mission is wonderfully dated.
Low-poly isn’t for everyone, but I love it. There is something about its blocky imagery and garish tones. Luckily, Thunder Kid II: Null Mission captures this perfectly on every level. Furthermore, it was interesting to play with a unique look for each world and different character models. My only concern was depth perception. Sometimes it was tough to judge distances, and this made it more frustrating. However, this is a small price to pay for such a retro treat.
The audio enhances the old-school appeal further, still. Thanks to its ear-splitting tunes and loud sound effects, is brilliantly dated. What’s more, the synth sounds capture the era while maintaining the theme.
A simple concept = simple controls.
Though I’ve been critical of many elements, the controls were great. Unsurprisingly, its simplicity makes it easy to play. However, they could have been awful. Luckily, though, they are well-considered and make up for some of the shortcomings.
With a serious lack of depth, no character progression, and no additional modes, there is no replay value. Therefore, understandably, this impacts the longevity of an already short title. On top of this, the glitched achievement list makes it less desirable.
Thunder Kid II: Null Mission takes a backward step.
It’s rare that a sequel doesn’t evolve. But, Thunder Kid II: Null Mission takes a backward step. Nearly every aspect is worse than the original, and this is disappointing. I had high hopes, but they were crushed almost immediately. It is for this reason that I can’t recommend you to buy it! Yet, information regarding the title can be found here. Humanity is in trouble and a hero must come forward. Thankfully Thunder Kid is around to save the day in this easy and underwhelming affair.