Purrfect! That's my opinion, chums, so excuse me while I do my reviewer's duty and foam at the mouth and rave with excitement, for an absolute rave is what this spanking game deserves. Right, let's wipe away the drool and get on.
Well, we've had just about every other range of 'action' toy converted into playable software, and now comes the turn of those furry feline fighters for freedom, the Thundercats. If you didn't know already, the Cats appear in a TV cartoon series, which is itself based on a toy range (as these things are). How can this latest addition to the swelling ranks of toy spin-offs be different to the rest? Just take a look at the programming team none other than the chaps from Gargoyle Games. Their deft touch with game software is noticeable all the way through this classy epic. It's a quite faultless piece of programming, with many cracking detailed digitised piccies and (on the 128) a very satisfying soundtrack from that Commodore music maestro Rob Hubbard.
For those of you who need a dose of story background before embarking on the game itself, here's the plot. Thundercat arch-enemy, the nasty Mumm-Ra, has nicked the all-powerful eye of the Thundera - the power behind the awesome Sword of Omens. Unless Lion-O can retrieve the eye, Mumm-Ra will inflict her evil vengeance throughout the land, and destroy the last of the Thundercats. Along the way, Lion-O has to rescue his fellow Cats if he's to succeed.
Thundercats is a well wicked left-to-right scrolling bash 'em up in the tradition of Cobra and Hysteria. The trick is to get to the far end of the level as fast as your padded paws will take you. Avoid or bop off the enemy along the way. At the end of each level is a bonus screen that converts spare time and kills into valuable points. It's no picnic though, each level is more of a pig to beat than the last.
The top of the games screen contains the digitised pics, and as you can see, they're pretty neat. They were all sourced from the 128K Speccy using a Sunset Digitiser and a Hitachi video camera, and with the programmers having enhanced the images further, the final effect is stunning. They may be borders, but these pics add real class to the game.
The central character of Lion-O looks like something out of Dun Darach, which is no surprise considering who did the coding. He's animated with a fair bit of style, as are the other assorted, weird and wonderful (well, pretty dangerous actually) inhabitants of the Thundercat world. There are some bizarre characters to be found in the game's 14 levels, but I'll leave you to find them!
I was much reminded of Kung Fu Master while battling through Thundercats. The action is similar (the large and small creatures, for instance), but while the older game fell down because of sloppy graphics and play, Elite's effort climbs high in the addictivity stakes with its excellent design and brilliant joystick-destroying gameplay. The 128 version with nifty sound FX is utterly the cat's whiskers. So my advice is to get your paws on a copy as soon as possible. It's the top cat as far as I'm concerned.
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