Thunder Force AC (Review) Nintendo Switch

Thunder Force AC (Review) Nintendo Switch
Review Score:

Back when the Sega Genesis was a household name and 2D horizontal shooters were all the rage, Sega and Technosoft came together to release an arcade variant of their popular 16-bit home console shooter, Thunder Force III. Ported to Sega’s System C-2 hardware – and virtually identical to its Genesis counterpart – Thunder Force AC was born. 

Gamers familiar with the Thunder Force series (or more appropriately, Thunder Force III) will feel right at home with this title. In fact, the ever-so popular ‘options menu’ (a common staple in most Sega Ages emulated releases) can be accessed at the title screen by pressing the X button. From this menu, the player can select between Arcade mode (a perfect rendition of the arcade game) and the oddly-named Kid Mode (a mode where the player doesn’t lose weapons/power-ups after dying; where each new life (i.e. ships) starts with a protective shield; and weaker enemies that take fewer shots to destroy). Both game modes include four levels of difficulty(i.e. Easy, Normal, Hard and Hardest), an option to adjust the number of available lives, and a feature to increase or decrease bonus score rewards.

Gameplay is based on core 16-bit shmup mechanics. This means the gameplay is less about shooting enemies, and more about avoiding obstacles and (quickly) deciding which enemies to attack. And since the action moves at a sluggish pace, the player has time to anticipate their every move. This is in stark contrast to modern day shooters, where the action is fast-paced and based on quick, twitch-like responses from the player. This lack of speed doesn’t mean Thunder Force AC is a cakewalk; it’s the complete opposite, in fact.

The player is constantly being bombarded by wave after wave of enemy spaceships. The best way to deal with this alien menace is to use any of the five available power-ups and/or weapons that appear randomly throughout the game. In addition, the player can acquire robotic ‘probes’ that will orbit their spaceship, while also providing additional firepower in the process.

The controls feel silky-smooth with split-second response times. Dodging debris and enemy fire with the Left Analog stick works as it should with no latency issues. The same can also be said about returning fire (which can be achieved by rapidly tapping the A button) and switching between weapons (a feature that can be accessed by pressing the B button). In addition, the player can also use their spaceship’s afterburners – a fairly limited attack that can be activated by rapidly tapping the Y button – to ward off the enemy, among other things.

Graphically, Thunder Force AC is a mixed bag. The visuals – from the sprites to the scrolling levels – all possess that gritty, first generation look that plagued some of the earlier titles released on the Sega Genesis. However, in retrospect – the graphics have a unique charm about them. The sprites are well-defined by good design and sharp colors, and large explosions fill the screen every step of the way. 

As another Sega Ages release, Thunder Force AC accomplishes what it sets out to do – provide a well-rounded, classic 2D shmup experience, with just enough bells and whistles to keep the player coming back for more.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Technosoft
Publisher: Sega
ESRB: E (Everyone)
Size: 76 MB
Price: $3.99 (Normally $7.99)

Sega Ages Thunder Force AC Official Website:

Review Score
The graphics are somewhat gritty and ropy in appearance.
A rockin' sound track and classic 16-bit sound effects enhance the experience.
Challenging to play, but hard to put down.
Thunder Force AC accomplishes what it sets out to do - provide a well-rounded, classic 2D shmup experience.
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