Famicom Friday #9 – Rolling Thunder


Rolling Thunder is a side-scrolling action game that was released by Namco for the Famicom in 1989. It had previously been produced for other platforms such as the Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and in the arcades etc.

Your character is a secret agent named Albatross who is on a quest to save his female partner from a terrorist organization. There are sequels in the series of Rolling Thunder (i.e. for Sega Mega Drive/Genesis) where you can also choose to play as Albatross’ partner Leila Blitz, but not in this one.

The game contains of different segments all divided into five stages each. It also has a password system so each time you die you can choose to continue from where you were using the password. You start off with 2 lives and 3 continues.

You can jump and shoot like in a regular platformer and you begin with a standard pistol. However the pistol has limited with ammo and the only way to find more is to go behind doors labeled “bullet”.

There are also doors where you can find “arms”. These doors contain various weapon upgrades, such as a machine gun with additional ammo apart from the pistol. When you run out of ammo on i.e. the machine gun however, you loose it and get your pistol back.

The terrorist organization has sent a lot of henchmen your way, and they come in all different colors with different qualities. Some just walk around, some shoot, some of them run around and jump.

It’s challenging at times because there’s a lot of enemies. You basically have to memorize the patterns of where they spawn to be able to dodge their attacks.

The animations are fluent and there’s a few variations in the locations among the different stages, however many times they re-use the same style of backgrounds with just a slightly different shade..


Graphics 6/10

[box_dark]The character and enemy sprites are well done with fluent animations as well. However the backgrounds are a bit stiff and could have used some more details and not be so repetetive.[/box_dark]

Music: 7/10

[box_dark]The music is very catchy, suspenseful and appropriate for a spy-game. There are also some variations of different songs throughout the game which is always nice.[/box_dark]

Gameplay 7/10

[box_dark]Smooth controls and generally a lot of fun since it’s quite fast-paced and filled with action. However it does get a bit repetitive, especially if you get stuck on a sequence with hoards of difficult enemies.. [/box_dark]

Japanese 10/10

[box_dark]No Japanese is needed to understand the gameplay or to play the game.[/box_dark]

Total: 30/40

[box_dark]Rolling Thunder is fun, but there are a lot of games just like this one. One example is Dead Fox by Capcom for the Famicom. If I would choose I would prefer Dead Fox, the music is a little bit better, the stages are more detailed, more story sequences and just generally more variation. But Rolling Thunder is not a bad game, it’s fun! It just doesn’t have as much replay value as some other games do..[/box_dark]


  • http://retrogamergirl.com Alana (@retrogamergirls)

    Crazy, I’ve heard of this game but I’ve never got to play it. Sounds like it’s way better than I was expecting! :)

    • http://retro-video-gaming.com/ stopxwhispering

      It is quite good! (dead fox is better in my opinion) but it’s definitely worth trying though ^_^ It was released for the NES as well by Tengen! ^_^ Go buy it! And while your at it, go buy Dash Galaxy in Alien Asylum for the NES as well ;D

  • Jesse Moak

    Much like another arcade childhood favorite of mine, Road Blasters (if you haven’t played it, do so), Rolling Thunder is much better in it’s original arcade form. The NES version is a decent port, but it just couldn’t really be done justice on the NES hardware, unfortunately. If you’ve never played the arcade version, look it up, as I feel you might be pleasantly surprised.