Backlog Burndown #008 – Gaming Like It’s 1989

Super Thunder Blade

Greetings Backloggers! Welcome to 2017! Sometimes there’s no school like the old school. Games were tougher. There were no “Press A to Win The Level” prompts or “Hide here for 30 seconds to regenerate health” options. On the other hand, things like limited lives, limited continues, and unsavable progress belong in the past as artifacts of cartridges and consoles without hard drives.

This week Super Thunder Blade finally came off the backlog. Thank goodness SEGA put an emulator save state option in the console and PC re-release of this game, because otherwise I’d probably still be stuck on Level 2. As it was, it took a lot of saving and reloading just to properly get through the final boss in particular.

Super Thunder Blade

Game over! You’ll be seeing this a lot.

For those who don’t know, or don’t remember, Super Thunder Blade was originally released in 1988 for the SEGA Genesis system. The player controls a blue helicopter (which strongly resembles the modified Aérospatiale Gazelle of the 1983 – 1984 movie and TV show Blue Thunder) and takes on waves of tanks, fighters, and tanks on the way to fighting some sort of massive mid and end level boss. It’s a 3rd person rail shooter with four levels. Levels are set in a city, desert, ocean, and city at night, respectively.

No two ways about it, this game is hard. Marooner’s Rock founder Andrew noted that he had a love-hate relationship with this game, and had only ever managed to reach the end boss once back in the day. The ability to save/load progress and thus not be sent back to Level 1 after running out of continues helps mitigate that problem, but start to finish my run still clocked in at right around four hours.

Super Thunder Blade Level 4

Night fighting in the city

The difficulty curve is brutal, a shining example of how classic games worked.

Backlog Verdict: It’s a classic for a reason. I wouldn’t recommend playing the original on the Genesis unless you really like pain, but save states with the modern emulation make this worth playing to experience true old school gaming.

Previous Backlog Count: 1,132

Current Backlog Count: 1,131

Next Time: Did Santa leave some new backlog additions for Christmas? Time to get to some of them!


Backlog Burndown is a semi-regular feature on Marooner’s Rock. Read previous columns in the archive, and suggest future games to play in the comments!

Aaron is proof that while you can take a developer out of the game industry, it's much harder to take the game industry out of a developer. When not at his day job, Aaron enjoys teaching Axis & Allies to his kids, writing sci-fi stories, playing classic space sims on Twitch, and riding around the American Midwest on his Harley.

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