Head to Head

Thunder Force III vs. Thunder Spirits

In this first edition, I compare the classic Genesis shooter, Thunder Force III, with young gun Super NES's Japanese release of Thunder Spirits...

First off, let's examine the stats. SNES starts off with the obvious advantage of size--8 meg. vs. Sega's 4 meg. This allows Nintendo to add more detail, larger bosses, and even more than the 8 levels found on the Genesis. But throughout, the SNES version is missing a lot. Gone is the ability to choose your level; you always start at a given level. Changing level order seemed to add a certain dimension to the game that SNES lacks.
WHY?!?--I must ask the programmers as surly they weren't thinking when they removed the autofire on the SNES version. This major oversight distracts from the game, making it nearly impossible. Also, if you do add a turbofire controller, you run into the common-found slowdown of the SNES.
Character control, however, is much improved on the SNES version as you lose the "slop" found on the Genesis. Also improved are the bosses. Larger and more animation gives the SNES the upper hand here.
It really seems like a trade off. If more time had been put into the SNES version, it could have been the decisive victor--yet, with the lack of a built in autofire, and occasional slowdown, Nintendo lets me down; it seems an older, smaller game stacks up just as well.
Yet for me, it still came down to one last deciding factor--cost. I get a lot more thrills for $19.98 (Thunder Force III) than a Japanese import at $89.98 (Thunderspirits).
The Super NES is a great system and has much potential; but, this game fails to take advantage of it. Perhaps an American release of Thunderspirits can redeem it, but until then, Sega has won the first battle. The war has just begun.

(Next time, join me as I explore the three way split as TG-16, Genesis, and SNES battle for the rights of best version of Ys Book III, Wanderers from Ys.)

-Ferrari Man

Originally appeared Vol 1, Iss 1 (04-05/92)

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