Japanese playstation THUNDER FORCE V (SLPS-01406)
Thunder Force 5 is practically fun burnt onto a CD. Whenever I'm getting bored of slow RPGs and need some action fast, or maybe when I just want to let off some steam and blow stuff away, I pop in TF5. Part of the fun comes from the controls - it's very easy to fly all over the screen very quickly. The play control is possibly the best I've encountered in a game. Like other Thunder Force games, you can set your speed if you're using the d-pad (so you don't need to worry about a stupid Gradius-esque power-up speed system) but even better, it's analogue control compatible. Sure, a lot of games are in this day and age, but this is one of the few games I can say was really benefited by analogue control. In many other games, I just use the d-pad, anyway (or would prefer to when I can't!). But in TF5, the ability to finesse through tight bullets while the next instant zoom out of the way of screen filling lasers is granted thanks to the game's pressure sensitive analogue control. Once you become tuned to the game, it's like you have a mental connection to your ship.
The manual claims the Playstation version added some new stuff - it DID add the time attack, has more gallery pictures, and I believe it added the FMV. Supposedly, it also added an extra boss and fixed some slowdown. I haven't been able to confirm from people who own the Saturn version if there is an extra boss or not (no one can find it), but they claim the slowdown was no big deal, and was like what you'd see in almost any game (maybe like the slight slowdown in R-Type Delta?
When Thunder Force V was released it never came close to becoming a hit. But while many more popular games sit unplayed after I beat them, TF5 is one of the PS1 games I keep coming back to for more, time and again, several years after it was released. It's fast, it's intuitive, and it's loaded with action. Thunder Force V is so fun, it never really becomes old.
It seems that the late 90's was a great year for shmups, games like Darius Gaiden, Blazing Star, R-Type Delta and Einhander and also the arrival of the 5th entry in the Thunder Force series: Thunder Force V. This game was first released on the Sega Saturn in 1997, but one year later the game was released on the PlayStation as Thunder Force V: Perfect System, this review will be focused on the PS version.
To begin with, you can select the first three stages in the order you wanna play them. but i only recommend that to the Expert players, then you start with two weapons: Twin Shot and Back Shot, you can get other weapons during the game, some of them requires a little strategy like the Free Range, at first i thought the weapon didn't work because it doesn't fire, but guess what, once an enemy appear, the lasers are focused on that target, so it needs at least one enemy for fire the Free Range, and also if you check the Ranges on it, that's the power levels of the weapon, it decrease according to the distance: Range 1 is the strongest and Range 3 is the weakest, so you have to be close to an enemy for kill it fast, this also applies to it's Over Weapon.
A good aspect of this game is the score multipliers that works like this: some enemies will have a clock like indicator, if you destroy an enemy when the "clock" appears, you can get 15 or even 16 times the normal score of that enemy, that also works on the bosses, adding more challenge and increasing the fun factor of the game, because i like the idea of a "Score Attack" during gameplay.
Most of the times you'll see "DANGER!", warning you of a potential hazard like enemies coming from behind, it's kinda like Blazing Star, and it's nice to have it, because it could be hard to deal with traps until you can memorize them.
When you pause the game you can make some "last time adjustments" like switch your weapons, and adjust your speed from 50% to 100%, but if you press the button it will increase slowly like in Thunder Force IV, you can also remove the Weapon/Score/Stock window if you want some extra visibility, to put it simple this game completes the player's necessities no matter how simple they are.
But the most important aspects in the game is the Over Weapon, remember the Thundersword in Thunder Force IV?, here they improved that feature in a whole new level. Here, the Over Weapon's energy relies on your CRAWs (added to their function as Extra firepower and rotating shields), and the best of all, you can use it as much as you need it in a "Controlled Blast", breaking with the bomb format, but the CRAWs don't have unlimited energy, once they turn red, you can't fire them, and if a bullet hit one when they're red, you'll lose it.
Stage 5 is one of my personal favorite stages in this game, because you can play with the "Brigandine", an equipment that gives you unlimited Over Weapons, but locks you with the "Blade" and the "Rail Gun", anyway, since you can fire the Over Weapon all you want, just concentrate on get x16 bonus in this stage and be careful with the Brigandine, once it lose all it's energy, it'll be detached and you'll end up as the RVR-02 Vambrace, Good Luck!.
The first thing that we notice is the new opening cutscenes, instead of have one "fast slideshow" like in the Saturn version, here you have a Prologue telling you the history from the discovery of the Vasteel (Rynex) to the First battle with the Guardian and the origin of Thunder Force 222, then you'll have the opening showing the launch sequence of 7 RVR-01's.
Everytime you enter or exit a menu and before starting the game you'll see a "DOS-like" Start-up sequence, giving the feeling that you're using the REFFI program.
If you compare the graphics of this version with the Saturn version, you'll find that the PS graphics are slightly inferior to the Saturn, the best example of this is in "Human Road" (Stage 3), the lack of the "Score" and "Rest" in the status window, and other things as well, but this downgrade had it's reasons, Tecnosoft decided to sacrify some of the graphics in favor of improving the music, adding a new game mode and unlockable features, not to mention the loading times are faster than the Saturn version, so the sacrifice of graphics doesn't go in vain.
I only have 1 word for describe the music: AWESOME!, it seems that the game designers wasn't fooling around and brought us an amazing soundtrack of fast-paced synthesized techno tracks, there's some "remakes" of songs from the previous games, "Legendary Wings" is a remake of Hydra from Thunder Force III, and "Duel of Top" (Vasteel Original) is "Lightning Strikes Again", the opening theme from Thunder Force IV. Also there's a sound test where you can hear all the tracks of this game, like i said, the music sounds much better than the Saturn version, an improvement from good to perfect!
Replay Value: 10/10
As a bonus to the addictive, fast-paced gameplay, the game has some bonus features that the Saturn version lacks. one of them is the Time Attack, like the name says it's beating all the bosses of the game as fast as you can, like the stages in the normal game, here you can select which boss you wanna fight first, then you can select your RVR, the first time you unlock the game you can only play with the Gauntlet or the Vambrace, the Brigandine is unlocked when you beat the game in normal, but playing Time Attack with the Brigandine could be a problem for average players since you can't use the Free Range until the RVR-02 is detached from it, so i recommend this ship to experts, and here's a challenging boss order for Brigandine: 5-2-1-3-4-6-7, Good Luck!
And here's the unlockable list for all of you.
- Beat the normal game in Kids: Unlocks Time Attack, Stage Boss Data, some images in the CG Viewer, and all the contents in Text Viewer. Beat Time Attack on the same difficulty for unlock more images.
- Beating both modes in Normal: Unlocks more images for CG Viewer, unlocks the Brigandine (RVR-02B) in Time Attack, and unlocks the Free Play (free Continues) in Option Mode.
- Beating both modes in Hard: Unlocks more images for CG Viewer and unlocks the Master Difficulty.
- Beating both modes in Master: Unlocks the last images of the CG Viewer.
- Every 3 Hours the game adds an Extra Continue.
- There's three hidden variants of the RVR-01 with different capabilities, all what you need to do is hold a button on Controller 2 during the Course Select screen, select the course and start the game, here's the list of RVR-01 Variants
- RVR-01E (Triangle), a Green ship, enhanced for Mass productivity, this ship has the weakest firepower but it gives you twice the score of an enemy (without multiplier) unlike the rest of the RVR-01's
- RVR-01HiS (Circle), a Red one, made for speed, this ship is 218% faster than the original ship, it's firepower is 112% more stronger than the RVR-01
- RVR-01Ex (Square), Purple Gauntlet, this ship is the slowest of all (37.5%), but it's the most powerful variant since it's firepower is 175% stronger, it can handle 2 CRAWs only, but the speed recovery of the CRAWs is the fastest, compensing the lack of a Third one.
NOTE: You'll return to the blue RVR-02 in Stage 5, but it'll keep the cockpit color of the variant.
- New Opening cutscenes.
- Adjustable button controls, along with default configurations
- Score multipliers.
- Removable window during gameplay, adding a little more visibility
- You can change your weapons and adjust your speed when the game is paused.
- Start-up sequences giving a computer feeling.
- Excellent Music
- Difficulty levels that adjusts to the player skill level
- No cheats (you know invincibilty and stuff like that).
- Unlockable and hidden contents like game modes, galleries, and more.
- The graphics are slightly inferior compared with the Saturn version.
Curiosities and Trivia:
- This is the first Thunder Force game without the Galaxy Federation and the ORN Empire, the only Galaxy Federation reference is Rynex.
- Speaking of Rynex, who's the pilot of the rebuilt Rynex/Vasteel?, it could be controlled by the Guardian, but the game doesn't mention that.
- This is the second Tecnosoft game where Tsukumo Hyakutaro worked on (the first one was Hyper Duel), and also his first time as composer for a Thunder Force game.
- RVR stands for Refined Vasteel Replica.
- CRAW stands for "Constituted Ray Art Weapon"
- REFFI stands for REckoning of Fighting Fact Intelligence, is an application used on the RVR's as countermeasure to the Guardian's virus and computer threats.
- The names of Deep Purple, Iron Maiden and A3 (Armament Armed Arm) are homages to the british bands of the same name (A3 is Alabama 3)
- The names of the final bosses are Guardian Animus (Stage 6) and Khaos Ascendant (Stage 7)
- The reason behind "Why you're back to the blue RVR-02" when you play with the hidden Gauntlets is because the Vambrace was an expensive ship so only one could be built.
- This was the last Thunder Force game made by Tecnosoft itself.
Over all, Thunder Force V: Perfect System is an excellent game with very functional controls, great music, and replay value. All of that made for keep the player in the game, even if you unlocked everything you'll still wanna go back for more due to the addictive gameplay, it's challenging enough for expert players, but also easy-to-learn for beginners. A must have for any shmup player.
Thunder Force V Perfect System's Final Score: 10/10
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