Saturday, 6 September 2014

GROW: Thunder Force IV - Sega Genesis / Mega Drive

  • JP Technosoft
  • NA Sega
  • EU Technosoft
SeriesThunder Force
Platform(s)Sega Genesis
Release date(s)
  • JP July 24, 1992
  • NA September 1992
  • EU December 1992
Genre(s)Shoot 'em up
Review by Clint 'ThoRn' Thornton

SHMUP.  Say it with me......  SHHHHHHHMUPPPP.  A word that isn't really a word but for gamers out there signifies a genre of arcade type action.  Horizontal or vertical they keep you on your toes at all times and the moment you slip up.... BANG!  Your ship has been shot down and you have most likely lost your 'power up'.  But you take a deep breath, try to remember the enemy and bullet patterns and push on......

For most people who are familiar with 16-bit SHMUPS the 'Thunder Force' name should be right up there with the other masters of shooters like 'R-Type', 'Gradius' & 'Truxton'.  In fact for those who chose 'Team Sega' over 'Team Nintendo' during the Bit Wars, at least one of the Thunder Force games for the Genesis / Mega Drive will most likely be in your top 3 SHMUPS for the console.  And that for me is Thunder Force IV.  Being the final game released for the Mega Drive before entering in to the 32-bit market this is the complete package and for a game released in 1992 it's very clear Technosoft knew the hardware and knew how to get the most out of it as most games of this caliber did not grace the Mega Drive until 1994 when developers really knew how to push the hardware to the max.

Thunder Force IV was called 'Lightening Force' in US.

TFIV continues on immediately after TFIII.  The Galaxy Federation are under the impression they had defeated the ORN Empire yet still continue to be attacked by menacing forces.  These forces are soon found out to be the 'Vios', an allied force of the ORN.  All seems lost but eventually the Galaxy Federation develop a new small spacecraft fighter, the 'Fire Leo-04 Rynex' and send it out to defeat the Vios.  You the player control the Leo Rynex and set out through a total of 10 stages to fight and demolish the evil Vios.

If you have played any Thunder Force games before you need no introduction but for those who have not been blessed by this series yet, I will make you a believer.  As I am sure you have figured out by now this game is a horizontal shooter, but TFIV introduces a vertically scrolling screen which is controlled by the players ship movement, so you now have the ability to fly higher and lower and can now use much more of the environment to your advantage.  But be warned, learn the patterns of those types of stages as you don't want to be flying low in the mountain ranges when a power up is floating by in the clouds off screen.

Your ship is given the ability to change speeds on the fly (like in previous games).  This is will take some time to use this strategically.  At first I was just using it as a 'players preference' for how fast I wanted my ship speed.  But as you play further in to the game, you soon start to understand it's in your best interest to adjust the speed of your ship during certain stages and against certain bosses.

The weapon system is the same as TFIII and features upgradable default weapons as well as upgrading to special weapons.  Unfortunately like most SHMUPS if you are killed you will lose the weapon you are currently using, so make sure you only select your favorite and most effective boss weapon for those required moments.  There is nothing worse than losing your best weapon especially when you lose it from generic enemy when a simple twin shot would have done the job.

As I said earlier, Technosoft really knew the hardware they were working with.  Everything from the copious layers of Parallax to the vibrant yet very deep color palette to the enormous boss sprites you encounter.  Some stages even transition from day to night so flawlessly I actually had to make myself take notice of the change as I would keep finding myself starting the game with a bright sky blue background, but ended in dark twilight.  I would definitely encourage you to choose the top stage when you first encounter the stage select as this is probably one of the best showcasing levels for the game.  When you hit the water and dive underneath, you will know what I am talking about ;)

Everyone knows the Mega Drive was a 'Hit' or 'Miss' when it came to it's music and effects.  But good news is that Thunder Force IV is a big hit!  It's rock, it's synthesized, it's just awesome!  Each piece of music accompanies each stage to perfection.  the music intensifies at the right moments throughout the game but also sits as the right amount of background music when you are not in those intense moments.

I love Thunder Force IV, and like most games I review I know I am being partly biased, but I don't care as I know this is a great game and worthy of its name.  Some people may say it's the same game as previous releases and for that they lose a bit of love for the game.  But I honestly think this is the best of the 16-bit Thunder Force series and will chuck this puppy in to my Mega Drive any time I feel the need for some SHMUP goodness!

8 out of 10

Until next time...  Stay Retro!


  1. Great article Clint. I'll have to check this one out soon - I do love a good SHMUP!

  2. Of course, this game is probably not recommended to the younger audience or people that are easily offended as these games definiately has death matches in them (similar to MTV's Celebrity Death Match). Similar games: Killer Instinct Taruhan Online

  3. Of course, this game is probably not recommended to the younger audience or people that are easily offended as these games definiately has death matches in them (similar to MTV's Celebrity Death Match). Similar games: Killer Instinct Bandar sakong