Arcade Archives ROLLING THUNDER - Review - Nintendo Switch

Rolling Thunder was originally produced by Namco way back in 1986 and was released as a coin-operated arcade game (and later on home computers and the NES in 1987). You play as a secret agent who is trying to rescue their partner from a terrorist organisation. Now Hamster has re-released it as part of their Arcade Archives label. Is it still worth a play today?

Now I must confess I had never heard of Rolling Thunder prior to playing this release but having researched the games history online i was definitely intrigued. As you can see from the images, this game is a classic run-and-gun shooter game, in fact it was Rolling Thunder that established this template that would later be copied in classics such as Sega's Shinobi (another amazing retro game you should try if you haven't!). Also the absolute legend of an arcade shooter Time Crisis is often thought as a spiritual successor to Rolling Thunder too!

In the game you play as secret agent (codename) Albatross, who is a member of the World Crime Police Organization (WCPO) and works in the "Rolling Thunder" espionage unit. Your goal is to save your colleague Leila Blitz from a a secret society of terrorists known a Geldra. It's a pretty basic arcade spy plot, but it works for what it is.

You play across two different stories, with each comprised of five stages. Gameplay consists of working through stages whilst avoiding enemy soldiers called Maskers (Who look like a mix between KKK members and brightly coloured Halloween costumes), the colours of their outfits dictate their strength and attack patterns. You will also have other enemies and at the end of the fifth stage of each story you will face off against Maboo, the leader of Geldra.

You are able to hide behind and jump over boxes for cover as well as hiding in doorways to avoid fire. You start the game with a pistol but as you play you eventually get a submachine gun which gives you a continuous fire rate which is much needed as you progress. Now I know retro arcade games are known to be difficult to complete (due to them wanting to gobble up all your sweet, sweet coins), but Rolling Thunder is an extremely difficult game. If you do manage to get through the five stages in the first story you then face the same stages in story 2 but with more traps, varied enemy placement and increased difficulty.

Hamster have released a great little version of a classic game and this release includes five different (albeit minor) versions of Rolling Thunder. These include Early, Later and Final versions as well as a Hi Score mode and Caravan mode. There are also a variety of visualisation customisations to play around with too. So if you like to play retro games looking like your playing on a CRT then you can! Overall its a very good port of a classic arcade game you may never have heard of before and it's always nice to be able to play retro classics on modern systems with modern resolutions and framerates!


Arcade Archives ROLLING THUNDER was released on March 17th 2022 and priced at £6.29. You can purchase the game on Nintendo Switch HERE. The game is also available for PS4. We were provided a copy of this game for review. A big thank you for that.

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