hunderbirds was a puppet show apart. Nowadays, Gerry Anderson’s creations take their cue from Frank Oz and the Muppets, with pliable faces, no visible wires and voice overs by the likes of Windsor Davies. Back in the 60’s nobody seemed to mind that Batman wore knickers, U.N.C.L.E. got .T.H.R.U.S.H., The Shadows played in the Thunderbirds film and that they tried to make Captain Scarlet a suave Cary Grant but he still ended up a B movie Brit.
“This is the game for the baby boomers,” Gwaine Taylor from Grandslam told me. “More depth than Running Man, the one for the 16-bit generation who like plot, nostalgia and good graphics”. Righty ho, Mr Taylor, but is the game actually any good?
The answer to that must be yes. Thunderbirds, the arcade adventure, manages to pack in challenging gameplay, four story lines, decent graphics, plus digitised TV sequences and the theme that makes you want to waggle a bandleader’s baton as much as a joystick. All of this without sacrificing any of the original’s eye for tacky detail.
Two members of International Rescue inhabit the plot of each section. This can involve saving a man in a flooded mine, shutting down the reactor of a scuppered nuclear sub, stealing the top secret plans of arch villain The Hood, or thwarting his plot to launch H-bomb missiles.
The puzzles you are set fuse perfectly with the mood of the series, making for a demanding game which is never cute for the sake of it. A few gems spring to mind.
Death, in fact, like the series, never happens not even to the baddies, because schmucks that they are, members of International Rescue are not allowed to kill their enemies. Presumably this would ruin their moral superiority. Should they fail a message scrolls across telling you that another rescue agency had to come, humiliatingly, to your aid.
If, like one of its sister magazines, CU had a predicted interest curve rating, the line for Thunderbirds would tend to straighten out. A FAB game and one which will have you tugging at your purse – if not your puppet strings.
Grandslam, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99
t is 2063 and Gerry Anderson’s most popular super-marionated puppets are GO! The super-rich Tracy family live on a pacific island apparently doing nothing but getting a sun tan. But as all fans know, the truth is very different. Hidden beneath the island is the underground base of International Rescue. Retired industrialist Jeff Tracy and genius scientist Horatio Hackenback III (AKA Brains) have constructed five Thunderbirds for Jeff’s sons; Alan, Gordon, John, Virgil and Scrott.
The latest mission for Thunderbirds is split into four sections, separate games really, with the C64 versions each taking up the side of a tape. If you complete a section a password for the next is given.
The first section takes place in the Santa Peuablo Mine where two miners are stranded below the surface. Brains has dug into the bottom of the mine with the Mole, while Alan has arrived at the surface. They must repair a broken water pump, then find the miners and attach a grab to allow Virgil to lift them out with Thunderbird 2.
In the second part, Alan and Gordon are sent to shut down the nuclear reactor of a crashed submarine. While on the mission fragments of a limpet mine are found. In the next section International Rescue’s British agents, Lady Penelope and Parker, attempt to find out who made it by stealing documents from the Bank of England.
The villain responsible for the mines turns out to be IR’s old enemy, the Hood. He has announced that unless he is paid four billion dollars he will launch a nuclear missile at London. In addition it turns out he has film of the notoriously camera shy IR. The film must be recovered and the missile disarmed.
Thunderbirds is essentially an arcade/adventure, with the unusual feature of being able to flip between two characters. If either of the characters loses too much energy the mission is aborted.
Zzap! Issue 54, October 1989, p.10