Rolling Thunder 2 (Arcade, Mega Drive) (1990, 1991)
Review by Faididi and Co.
Showing why having a partner makes all the difference
Communication satellites are being mysteriously destroyed, and that's bad news for everybody. The group known as Rolling Thunder discovers that the evil organization called Geldra has recovered from its past defeat and is responsible for the chaos, so agents Leila and Albatross are sent out again to stop Geldra. The story, like that of the previous installment, isn't anything spectacular, but the frequent changes in scenery are welcome.
Gameplay: Above Average
Namco's Rolling Thunder 2 is an action shooter that adheres tightly to its predecessor's gameplay and difficulty. The heroes can still jump between floors and hide behind doors as they walk and shoot through 8 side-scrolling rounds. The big difference, though, is the simultaneous 2-Player support, as Leila and Albatross can cover each other's back and take down the bad guys together. The heroes still slump over as soon as they suck up a single bullet or grenade blast, but the very presence of a partner can make things far easier compared to Albatross' solo struggle in the original game.
The level and enemy designs are more interesting, too. In their pursuit of Geldra's new leader, our heroes will travel around the globe, from the sunny streets of Miami to the sandy ruins of Giza, with ornate mansions and undersea bases coming in along the way. Background corridors similar to those in the previous installment can still be found, but the rounds are more dynamic than before, thanks to the addition of moving platforms and new enemies like the force field Maskers and the armadillo Maskers.
Walking, crouching, and shooting while on the ground are as easy to do as before, and the clunky stair-climbing is gone. However, the jumping controls aren't fully fixed. The heroes can now turn in mid-jump, which helps, but not being able to shoot while leaping still sucks.
Rolling Thunder 2's bright, colorful visuals are certainly pretty (and they'd better be, given the number of years since the previous installment). The characters, especially Leila and Albatross, are fluidly animated, and the Maskers' eyes even glow eerily as they walk out from doorways. The backgrounds are textured well, with each round looking completely different from the rest.
Audio: Above Average
The gunfire and the explosions are loud. The same can be said for the rumbling engines of trucks driving by the heroes and the mechanical humming of moving platforms sliding into place. The vocal effects are much clearer than those of the previous installment, and Albatross' death groan sounds exceptionally painful. In a huge step away from the quiet, sneaky nature of the first game's tunes, the music here oozes with more style and flair, be it the smooth-going tune of the beachside streets or the grandiose tune of the desert ruins.
Rolling Thunder 2 is a challenging but impressive-looking action shooter. Fans of the first installment who dream of being able to play with a friend at the same time will enjoy this sequel's 2-Player mode, somewhat improved controls, and overhauled visual and audio effects.
Port: Above Average (Mega Drive)
While the Mega Drive version loses some of the fancier visual details (like the zooming effects) and one of the tunes from the arcade version, it comes with lots of exclusive bonuses. Three new rounds have been added, bringing the total number of rounds to 11, and the lone boss from the arcade version is accompanied by three new bosses. Some parts of the backgrounds now allow the heroes to duck into them for cover, so they can lean in and out quickly while shooting at bad guys down the corridor. Shotguns have also been added, providing more fun with the special weapons. Like the FC/NES version of the original game, this port comes with a password feature. It's a lot cooler, too, because the heroes' progress is recorded after each round (instead of after every other round), plus the passwords take the amusing form of cryptic sentences, totally secret agent-style. All in all, this is a great port that should please those who've enjoyed the arcade version.