Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thunder, Thunder, Thundercats... HOOOOOOO!!!

I recently saw a picture (on Dorkly again) of the comic Carrot Top juxtaposed with his twin brother Lion-o of the Thundercats.

If you don't remember the Thundercats it was the 1980's cartoon about the race of humanoid cats from the planet Thundera, led by their Lord Lion-o in regular battles against the evil Mumm-Ra. Thundercats came out quite late in my cartoon-watching youth so I wasn't a die-hard fan or anything but I did see enough of them to figure out that I hate Snarf - the Jar Jar Binks of the Thundercats.  Here is the intro for the cartoon.

I thought I recalled seeing an ad for a Thundercats game in one of my old gaming magazines and sure enough there was one - released in 1987 by Elite for the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Amiga and Atari ST. So I gave the C64 version a go.

The game is basically a horizontal scrolling hack and slash game along the lines of Shadow of the Beast or maybe Ghosts and Goblins (but not nearly as good). You are Lion-o and are trying to rescue several fellow Thundercats and recover the fabled Eye of Thundera from the evil clutches of Mumm-Ra and his henchman. You run, crouch, jump, slash, and shoot your way through a number of different levels, one of which even allows you to pilot a laser-firing air-car. The game seemed like it would be quite easy at first glance, but it turned out to be pretty damn difficult - mostly due to to sluggish controls that almost never gave you time to slash one guy at your front and then turn around to kill the dude heading your way from behind even though it looked like you should have plenty of time. This was extremely frustrating to the point where my wife got sick of hearing me yell out cusswords and basically told me to shut the hell up.

In a nutshell here were my reactions to the game - number of plays approximated:
Try #1: Nice theme song. Game looks kinda weak, but easy enough to run through quick. Wow dead already - OK guess I'll actually try next time.
#2-5: Dang, this game is actually pretty challenging. And better than I initially thought. Not bad. What the hell are those things? Pigs?
#6-7: OK. New joystick - this one should work better than that old Atari joystick. What the... dammit!
#8-10: OK! Another joystick switch. My old Gemstick should do the trick! Arrghh! Why the hell does Lion-o vaporize any time one of these guys even just barely touches him? Are they antimatter or something? Stupid!!
#11: Goddamn this game. Fuck it - I'm switching to the Trainer mode with unlimited lives so I can at least see all the levels and then cross it off the list.
#12: Bored. Wanted to hang in there till the end but screw you Mumm-Ra. I'm done.

I've always felt that way about cheats for infinite lives. Even on great games (which this isn't) it just makes the game boring. So I gave up before the ending but I saw online that the ending was extremely lame. Basically the last level was a fight with Mumm-Ra not much different from other fights then this dazzling ending screen was revealed.


If you care to give the game a go you can try an online Java version at But like I mentioned before the best part about the game is the theme music played at the opening screen - pure SID goodness. I discovered that the tune was actually created by Rob Hubbard, somewhat of a legend in the Commodore 64 music scene (yes, there is still a C64 music scene). A guy posted the entire song on Youtube with screenshots from the game so check it out:

Oh, and finally, I came across a review of the game in the December 1987 edition of Zzap!64 magazine. If you care to read their review from back in the day you can click below - they gave the game 74%. I wasn't quite that generous.

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Fallguy40 said...

I'm not surprised the game sucks. Never saw the show.

Fallguy40 said...

You know, looking at that action figure, the color scheme looks just like the OKC Thunder. Maybe Thundercats were an inspiration.

MadPlanet said...

Well I didn't exactly say it sucked, it was just frustratingly difficult and the controls were clunky. I would still rather play it than Barrier. I'd give it maybe a 4.9. On second thought I guess that does suck after all.

I never thought about the connection to the Thunder but yeah I can see the similarity in costumes/uniforms/name. Maybe the owner was a Thundercats fan as a kid.