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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

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Thunder Force V

Thunder Force V (1998)

  • Gamepage
  • Developer: Technosoft
  • Publisher: Technosoft / Working Designs

Okay, hands up admission - Thunder Force V wasn't as good as Einhander, and it certainly wasn't as good as Treasure's utterly fantastic Radiant Silvergun, whose rave reviews somewhat overshadowed its release. However, the last instalment in the venerable Thunder Force series was still bloody good; and thanks to the decision to stick with 2D backgrounds for much of the game (while keeping foreground objects in 3D), it still looks damn pretty even now.

In essence, it's a side-scrolling shooter not unlike many you've played before, but any shooter can really be judged on two qualities - level design, and the combat "hook". Thunder Force V's developers had been doing this for a decade, and it showed; the level design was almost flawless, the bosses perfectly tuned, and the attack patterns ideally balanced between challenge and frustration.

The hook, too, was interesting; collecting "CRAW" power-ups that floated outside your ship essentially gave you limited shields and extra weapon turrets, and you could deplete the power of one of your CRAWs to fire a powerful Over Weapon shot and take out nastier enemies. A very solid shooter, in other words, which deserved far more credit than it received - not least because any shooter with bosses called Deep Purple and Iron Maiden is alright in our book.