If it moves, shoot it. If it doesn't move, shoot it anyway

Operation Thunderbolt logo

KIDNAPPING arabs have boarded an airliner, forced it to land in hostile territory and taken hostages. What, again? Well I don't care - it keeps me in work. I'm hard, see? I wear combat gear and cover my face in black make-up. And I've got a machine gun.
It's my job to solve problems like this without any of that sissy negotiation stuff. Just get in there and machine gun everything that moves. If one or two hostages get burned, well, that's their problem. They shouldn't have been flying with arab airlines in the first place.

First I have to make contact with Intelligence. Intelligence is not something I have had much contact with, but I'm sure I'll recognise it when I see it. Unless I shoot it first, hur hur.
Hey, here's a cat. Get out of the way, cat. Oops. Stupid cat. I shot it. It shouldn't have been on an arab street in the first place.

The arabs are throwing all they've got at me. Guns, knives, hand grenades, even tanks and helicopters. You name it. In fact everything that the commies used the last time I went on a mission, the code name Wolf operation.

This time I have a laser-sighted machine gun, as long as I get the equipment and ammunition floating down on the parachutes that is. Plus I got a buddy with me this time. Walking down the street beside me, just as keen to clean up this gutter town as I am. Those dirty stinking arab commies don't have a chance.

What's this? A dog now. Get out of the way... Oops. Stupid dog. It shouldn't have been on an arab street in the first place. It seems to have left some ammo for me as well. Never mind. It was probably brain washed.

Riding on the jeep makes a change. So do the attacking jet aircraft. They're really taking this attack personal, aren't they?
Hey! What's this! They've shot my mate! Those darn pinko subversives! I'll get you all!

Right, I'm in the plane now, and the last kidnapper is hiding behind the pilot. There is a good change that I'll hit him as well. Oh what the heck... I've always wanted to learn to fly...

The graphics in Operation Thunderbolt could not really be bettered in this type of game, with the possible exception of the slightly less than impressive 3D scrolling.
The large enemy sprites jump out from all directions, blazing away with their guns quickly and lobbing all sorts of nasty things towards you.

Playing with a mouse means you'll need to pick up laser sight to get anywhere, as without it you can only tell where you are aiming by the impact the bullets make. Not a good technique with limited ammo. With the sight, a small coloured dot appears over whatever you are about to blow away.

The joystick option comes with the sight as standard, perhaps to make up for the impossible lack of speed. Another game where a clean mouse mat is a must.

Sound effects consist of good quality speech samples telling you the obvious, and budabudabuda-type machine gun sounds. The arabs make a slight moan as you shoot them. All very tastefully done.

I have being trying very hard to avoid criticising this game on moral grounds, but I can't contain myself any longer. It just seems strange to me that writing a game about machine-gunning Libyans is seen as perfectly OK and normal.
Imagine the same game, moved to a small town in the south of England. Say also, for the sake of argument, that the name of the town was Hungerford. It's not funny any more, is it? The sad thing is that this game will sell well.


Operation Thunderbolt logo

OCEAN £24.99 * Joystick or Mouse

The man with the machine gun is back and this time he's bringing his buddy. After rescuing the hostages in Operation Wolf, Roy Adams, trouble shooter, mercenary and general tough guy, is back in action, this time with his good mate Hardy Jones.

The follow-up to the smash hit Op' Wolf has arrived. Now one or two players can join in the action and rescue some more hostages. Arab terrorists hijacked a DC10 flying from Paris to Boston and rerouted the plane to Africa. Only Roy and Hardy can save the day.

Armed with a sub machine gun and a fistful of rockets, the player has to work through eight stages of enemy territory to reach captives and liberate them. All the action is viewed through Roy's (and Hardy's) eyes and the basic idea is to shoot anyone that appears on the screen before they get a chance to blast away at you.

Things are never that easy, though: the enemy soldiers have back-up in the shape of helicopters, tanks and jets and your ammunition is limited. Just like in Op' Wolf, extra ammo and rockets are acquired by shooting the crates that parachute down from the top of the screen before they hit the bottom.

In these crates can also be found things like power bottles which restore your energy (a meter at the base of the screen runs down as hits are taken), a bulletproof vest which reduces the amount of damage enemy bullets have on your Schwarzenegger-like chest and a laser sight.

Unlike Op' Wolf, Op' Thunderbolt doesn't give you a sight to start with - you have to make guesses as to precisely where your gun is pointing - so gaining the sight is a massive boon (the rotters ensure you start each new stage minus the sight though, so you have to keep collecting it).

Also unlike its predecessor, Operation Thunderbolt has more variety in the levels. Some are horizontally scrolling, some have the enemy coming from the back of the screen towards you and so on. The enemy's arsenal has changed to include not only the familiar daggers and grenades, but also missiles. Make it to the later stages and you not only have masses of the enemy to kill but you also have to ensure you don't shoot the hostages by mistake. It is indeed a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

The scrolling is a bit jerky at times, but you don't notice it once you get stuck into the action. What you do notice are the excellent sprites and the good backdrops. It looks great and the fine sound effects and bits of speech do their bit to add to the atmosphere. Super, smart, smashing stuff.

LASTING INTEREST

Boy, it's tough. This is really a two-player game, so unless you've got super-human lightning reactions or are using a cheat mode, you're going to find it tough.
Even in two player mode this game is certainly no pushover and will take you ages to finish. Extra credits help, but not as much as you'd like, because if a player dies on a level the whole level has to be re-done. The difficulty tweaking has been set just right making it very addictive (even more so in two player mode than if you're playing solo) so there's bags of lasting interest.

JUDGEMENT

What a worthy successor to the original Ocean have done a superb conversion job and capture the gameplay brilliantly. Op' Wolf was good, but the variety to the levels and the extra challenge make this even better. Completely mindless and extremely violent, but very addictive and playable nonetheless.


Operation Thunderbolt logo Amiga Joker Hit

Pazifisten und Tierschützer sollten jetzt besser wegschauen, denn hier kommt eine weitere Metzel-Orgie von "Ocean". Und die ist keineswegs friedfertiger als ihre diversen Vorgänger, sondern eher das genaue Gegenteil!

Vor ungefähr zwei Jahren tauchte in den Spielhallen ein Automat mit einer MG vorne dran auf; das Ding hieß "Operation Fuchs" oder "Wiesel" oder so ähnlich (ja, es is' lange her!). Und da es sich binnen kurzem zu einem echten Renner entwickelt hatte, machte sich die Software-Company aus Manchester auch gleich an die Konvertierung. Die Freude währte (dank BPS) nicht lange; doch schon bald erschien der Nachfolge-Automat, diesmal sogar mit zwei MG's! Jetzt gibt's auch dazu eine Umsetzung für den Amiga - mal sehen, wie lange sich Operation Thunderbolt in öffentlichen Ladenregalen halten kann...

Die Vorgeschichte: Eine DC 10 wurde nach "Kalubya" (das liegt - zufälligerweise - genau da, wo sich in meinen alten Schulatlas noch Libyen befunden hat! Entführt. Die Forderungen der Terroristen sind unerfüllbar, und so werden zwei Soldner losgeschickt, um die mittlerweile über das ganze Land verteilten Passagiere zu befreien.

Ganz im Stil des Vorganger müssen sich der oder die Spieler durch acht verschiedene Level kämpfen und alles meucheln, was ihnen vor den Joystick (oder die Maus) kommt. Und das ist eine ganze Menge: haufenweise(!) Terroristen, Panzer, Hubschrauber, Jeeps, Hind-Helicopter (das sind die ganz großen), Kanonenboote, MIGs - bei dem Aufgebot würde selbst Rambo blaß werden! Gelegentlich tauchen Hunde oder Katze auf dem Bildschirm auf, die man ebenfalls abschießen muß, um an mehr Munition zu gelangen; außerdem segeln Kisten vom Himmel, die Granaten, kugelsichere Westen, Zielfernrohre, Energietränke oder wiederum Munition enthalten. In den Leveln vier und sechs lauern besonders widerstandsfähige Supergegner, und am Ende des letzten Levels muß man mittels Fangschuß den Piloten retten.

Ocean hat für dieses Game eine Auszeichnung für die Automatenumsetzung des Jahres erhalten, und das nicht ohne Grund: Man findet praktisch alle Features der Arcade-Maschine wieder, so wackelt z.B. der Screen, wenn man per Boot oder Jeep unterwegs ist, die komplette Sprachausgabe ist vorhanden, Grafik und Sound sind praktisch eins zu eins zum Automaten - eigentlich merkt man nur am gelegentlichen Nachladen, daß man vor'm Amiga sitzt.

Die Handhabung ist Top, das Spiel lädt schnell und läßt sich jederzeit pausen oder abbrechen. Außer den üblichen von links nach rechts scrollenden Leveln kommen sogar einige vor, in denen das Szenario im 3D-Style auf den Spieler zuscrollt!!

Natürlich ist Operation Thunderbolt trotzdem absolut ungeeignet für Leute, die Kriegsspiele verabscheuen, denn an Brutalität wurde wirklich nicht gespart. Wer dagegen seine Aggressionen am liebsten an Terroristen und Miezekatzen ausläßt, wird seine helle Freude haben - zumindest bis die BPS wider zur "Operation Index" schreitet! Und das kann in diesem Fall nicht sehr lange dauern... (mm)


Operation Thunderbolt logo CU Super Star

Ocean
Price: £24.99

Have you ever had that feeling of deja vu? Twelve months ago Ocean unleashed their conversion of Operation Wolf on a suspecting public. What had they done with the biggest name in coin-ops in years? The answer as everyone knows, is that they'd put together an extremely polished conversion, that seemed a cert for the Christmas number one slot - until that is, they followed up with Robocop, but that's another story.

So one year on, and Ocean wheel out their seasonal guns, in the shape of Taito's sequel, a twin Uzi mounted cabinet with even more happening in it than the last one. Well we know they can do it, but is there any point? The answer, uncategorically is yes, because not only is this as good a conversion as anyone has a right to expect, but in some places it's even an improvement.

In the sequel the crack Taito commando group are once again called up to defy the odds, this time by defeating a bunch of terrorists who have taken the passengers of a DC 10 hostage. What follows should be more shoot 'em up action than any one trigger fiend can handle. So it's just as well that one of Op Thunderbolt's main enhancements, faithfully retained in this conversion, is that it's a two player game. That means twice the firepower - it also adds a degree of competition, not just in staying alive and points totalling, but in chasing after extra ammunition. As you both find yourselves running low the extra clips you hit fly to the left or right, but it's possible to intercept your partner's by hitting it yourself. The bizarre sight of two people playing ping pong in the middle of a frenzied firefight is not uncommon.

If you had trouble directing the onscreen sight in the last game, don't worry you don't get one this time! That's something of a de-enhancement if you ask me, but there again every level offers you the chance to pick up the laser sight which appears as a red dot on the screen. All the other extra weapons appear too, like more rockets and health bottles, but there's also a flack jacket which lessens the damage you sustain.

Operation Thunderbolt has seven levels of action which switch from horizontal sweeps to 3D screens with your viewpoint situated in a jeep or a boat. Each is interspersed by stills which direct you as to your next objective or to the status of the game. Should you die a dead soldier appears and the option to continue, although this is only offered three times before the game concludes.

The graphics for the arcade sequences and the stills are impeccably realised. This could be the coin-op you're looking at, except that they appear to be even better, which backs up Ocean's claim that they've improved elements. Most of the sound, miraculously is there, from spot effects like cats howling, screams and panicking hostages through to the melodramatic announcement on the still screens. All this and the disk swapping is kept to an absolute minimum.

We've seen some impressive conversions this year, but someone's going to be hard pushed to improve on this. Just about everything I can think of is there. It's tough, perhaps a touch too tough with the absence of the gunsight on screen, but if arcade machines are your lifeblood, this should keep you going for ages. Further hyperboles elude me, don't let Operation Thunderbolt elude you.


Operation Thunderbolt logo

Paul Lakin wanted to join the SAS but couldn't find their number in the Yellow Pages. To cheer him up we lent him a machine gun and sent him off on Operation Thunderbolt...

When they next start giving out Nobel Peace Prizes, Ocean's name is unlikely to be on the shortlist. Operation Thunderbolt is not a game designed to spread love between the nations. Opponents are distinctly foreign while the square-jawed heroes pack more ram than Rambo.

As with its predecessor, Operation Wolf, Thunderbolt concerns Roy Adams' attempt to rescue hostages from some 'imaginary' African country. This time the mission is so terrifyingly tough that there's a two player mode that gives our Roy a chance to bring along a friend in the shape of Hardy Jones.

Adams begins his mission in a street where a lot of men keep shooting at him in a pathetic attempt to distract attention from the fact that they're wearing tea towels round their heads. Rather than laugh at them, Roy blows them apart. Later on, these men stop wearing tea towels and turn out not to be Arabs at all but Africans. The plot thickens but Roy is not perturbed; he blows them apart all the same.

In fact, Mr Adams spends most of the eight levels blowing things apart, including cats and dogs which yelp and give birth to extra bombs and hand grenades. Streuth!

The shooting doesn't stop until Adams has rescued the hostages and made good his escape. With ammo in limited supply and the dastardly hijackers hiding out behind their hostages, shooting has to be accurate as well as enthusiastic. Idle blasting will leave you taking on four armoured cars with one bullet and a lot of dead hostages to boot.

Amiga reviewPaul: Arcades are funny old places. They're full of really imaginative high tech games yet you'll still find crowds queuing for Thunderbolt despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that it's really just a glorified shooting gallery. I suppose it's a case of preferring guns to buttons.

Guns or no guns, I'm far too much of a wimp to play these sorts of games. Fortunately, while loitering around in Lunn Poly I found a coffee stained travel guide to "Thunderbolt Holidays To Africa - The Package That'll Give You A Packet". Jolly interesting it is too, so you can read it and I can go home.

THUNDERBOLT HOLIDAY

Day One: Well boys and girls, it's going to be a brisk busty start to the holiday so remember to put a pair of sensible shoes on and bring along plenty of ammunition. The day will be spent in the street of a typical Arabic Town collecting souvenirs and trying to kill plenty of the natives.

Day Two: A fascinating visit to a charming village where the locals will greet you with warmth, grenades and their delightful hand crafted throwing knives. Lots to look at so don't blink or you might live to regret it. Then again you might not.

Day Three: An exciting drive through the beautiful countryside. The locals are fairly aggressive drivers so remember to keep one hand on the horn and the other on your machine gun.

Day Four: This African village has barely changed in the last four hundred years except for the addition of the odd gun tower and a few hundred friendly gun-toting natives.

Day Five: No holiday is complete without a cruise - and this is a cruise few of you will complete. Don't bother bringing along your St. Christopher unless you're sure he's a dab hand with a rocket launcher.

Day Six: This hotel is famous for providing a hostage on every floor and for the fighting skill of its concierges.

Day Seven: Morning: sadly this is the last day of the holiday so the party should make their way to the airport. The airplane must leave on time so don't let the locals delay you, however persuasive they may be.
Afternoon: And so it's onto the airplane but the holiday's still not over. We've arranged for you to join in the national sport of grenade catching. An explosive end to an adventure-packed holiday.

MISSON IMPOSSIBLE

Well that's enough of the holiday guide (Just what I was thinking. Ed.) so let's get on with the game. Operation Thunderbolt is basically Operation Wolf with a little more to it. The graphics are detailed, colourful and full of action. One key difference is that in some of the levels scrolling is into the screen rather than horizontal. This is very effective when you're fighting your way down a street. Some of the scrolling is a bit jerky but I'm prepared to believe that this adds to the feel that you're running - that's what it says on this £20 note anyway.

Firing is either mouse or joystick controlled. Both are on the difficult side of impossible until you get your hands on a laser sight. In the arcade you can of course use the gun to give you a vague idea of where the bullets are going. Looking down the barrel of a mouse is a bit unhelpful, especially when the tail keeps getting in your eye.

Once you have the laser sight, things go more your way, provided you've got some bullets left. As with extra ammo, energy etc. the laser sight is gained by shooting open packages or animals - honestly! Problem is, of course, you're never quite sure what's in a package. Having risked life and limb to shoot one open, you find it contains yet another bullet proof jacket.

To criticise a game for being unfair may seem like sour grapes but hell, what's wrong with sour gapes, they make wine out of them don't they? So here goes. This game is unfair. You enter a new level with all the problems in which you left the last one - such as no ammo and little energy - but none of the advantages like laser sights. What are you supposed to have done with the flippin' things? Absent absentmindedly dropped them into the nearest river or bartered them for 200 imitation pearl ear-rings for the girls back home?

Another unusual feature of the game is its scoring. Although you have three lives, your score isn't carried forward to the next life so getting on the table isn't that easy. In fact the game overall is a real toughie. At the end of each level you can win extra points for your hits to shots ratio, so try and resist the temptation to use trillions of bullets.

Operation Thunderbolt is a superb conversion of a very popular arcade game. If you enjoy this style of shoot 'em up then you'll love Thunderbolt and will play it with joy while waiting for Ocean's next game - Invasion Italy 1990.

Stop


Ocean would like to stress that there is no similarity between the state of Kalubya, setting of Operation Thunderbolt, and certain other North African states. Just to clear up the confusion, ZERO has printed some of the crucial differences.
1 Libya is ruled by Colonel Ghadaffi, a member of its armed forces.
2 Colonel Ghadaffi thinks he might be God.
3 Libya was once colonised by the Italians.
4 Most Libyans woship Allah and his Prophet Mohammed.
1 Kalubya is ruled by André Pamplemousse, ex-member of Kalubyan Theatrical Costumiers.
2 André Pomplemousse thinks he might be a duck.
3 Kalubya was once colonised by a family from Putney.
4 Most Kalubyans worship High Interest Bank Accounts.

Violence is golden as the sequel to Operation Wolf explodes onto the Commodore machines.

Operation Thunderbolt logo Zzap! Gold Medal

Ocean, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

It's been a long time since Roy Adams last saw combat. Now another crisis has erupted, placing the fate of hundreds of innocent civilians in the balance.

A DC-10 has been hijacked by Arab terrorists and diverted to Kalubya, North Africa. The terrorist demands are predictable, their threats ruthless. Unless 23 of their terrorist comrades re released within ten hours, the passengers will be slaughtered one by one.

Roy Adams is called in and, due to a massive increase in military spending, is accompanied by another 'use-bullets-like-water' comrade - Hardy Jones.

Operation Thunderbolt starts off with the two heroes walking down main road into the country to face an endless onslaught of Arab terrorists in this move-into-the-screen, 3-D stage. These quite happily blast away and throw grenades at the would-be rescuers, draining energy with each hit.

A round of three sends the bad guys on their way to Allah, better still a well-placed rocket does wonders when things get busy. But it is best to save the rockets for such minor inconveniences as MiG-25 Supersonic jets and a Jetranger with troops shooting a heavy machine gun out of the doors.

Our heroes have their own mighty resources to call on though - crates dropped form supply aircraft can be blasted to collect a variety of items to help in the battles. Besides all-important ammo there's a laser sight, arguably the important add-on as it puts a red sight on screen for either Roy or Hardy to use for more accurate fire (only one laser sight available, sadly). Also useful is body armour (reducing any damage taken by half), power drink (restoring lost energy) and the rarely found first aid kit which is even better at healing wounds. More often than not your so called 'friend' may try to pinch a filling item off you by shooting it before it goes off the screen, so shoot it again to get it back the other way!

Make it through the onslaught to the church and a spy inside tells you where to go next for more ammo and info on the location of the hostages. Now the enemy's getting really nasty, bringing in heavily armed gunship helicopters!

At the end of the level there is the ammo depot, grab as much as you can, learn the location of the hostages and blow the depot. Now Roy and Handy are getting somewhere! With a jeep for transport the two combatants race along through a 3-D jungle road. The enemy sends in rocket equipped MiG-25s, Hind gunships, tanks and jeeps all together!

Inside the horizontally-scrolling enemy hide-out things are no less action-packed, the terrorists are everywhere and have a Russian Advisor in control. What makes combat tricky is the presence of hostages. Try not to shoot all eight (or any come to think of it) and blow away that Russian Advisor to complete the level.

It comes as no surprise to learn that not all of the hostages have been rescued, they've been split up into groups and another group are held at the enemy's HQ. Getting there is via a little 3-D jaunt in a patrol boat. Enemy torpedo boats and aircraft provide the necessary distractions. After this it's back to the horizontal-scroll for a tour around the enemy HQ. Eight more hostages are to be rescued from their cells by blasting the locks on the doors.

Shooting all the hostages is fatal to the mission but if the two gun-toting good guys make it through with hostages intact then it's onto the final location - Kalubya airport. This is a 3-D section with you going straight down the runway to the airliner at the end. Make it to the plane and you run down the aisle, gunning down the terrorists. But some of the hostages are running towards you as well, so mindless blasting is out.

The terrorist leader Espenosa has one more ace left up his sleeve, namely the pilot. You must shoot the leader and not the hostage in a RoboCop-type scene. Shoot the Captain and it looks as if your African holiday will be extended indefinitely!


Phil King It's great to see the two-player option working well on both versions. Like in the arcades, some real off-screen fights can start when one player nicks the other player's extra ammunition, laser sight, or much needed extra energy! If both of you keep firing at a crate item it can quickly develop into a ridiculous game of ping-pong as the equipment gets bounced back and forth across the screen!
On the graphics front it's all extremely attractive with good horizontal scrolling, manic blasting of the most violent kind and some good 3-D scenes. If you like your violence on the major scale then this is the one for you (and another blood-thirsty friend!).
Robin Hogg While all eyes are on Chase HQ for Xmas, Ocean's second big-name coin-op conversion is here now and it is awesome! The 64 game gets full marks for effort with not just the Op Wolf-style horizontal levels to fight through but also the 3-D levels which work well. The frame update is smooth with buildings scrolling past, men running out of the screen, and jeeps driving past in a convincing manner (considering it's two games in one it's a very good effect).
What drew to the 64 game were the great enemy sprites, with a lot more shading and detail about them than the stick figures in Wolf: they move real fast as well!
Concerning the Amiga game, just saying it is the arcade game isn't enough as Thunderbolt actually improves on it with an ace Jonathan Dunn tune, smoother moving and slightly more detailed graphics. There's also a facility for two mice (mouses?) or joysticks - a bit better than those cheap plastic guns bolted onto the coin-op that's for sure!!
Stuart Wynne The 64 game has good sound effects and a decent Matthew Cannon tune while the Amiga benefits from some great samples - you rally do begin to feel sorry for those cats and dogs that get shot! And in pretty much every other respect the Amiga game amazes. Tremendous speed, jaw dropping animation and superb graphics. Amiga Operation Thunderbolt is in a league of its own when it comes to blast-'em-ups - it's genuinely arcade perfect. In short, a quantum leap over Op Wolf. For the C64 - which had a great Op Wolf conversion - the sequel dramatically improved graphics, playability in short - double the gameplay and double the action. Amazing.