Thunderbirds 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.
The first is when Lady Penelope uses a clockwork mouse to deactivate a laser-triggered security system; the second occurs if you are unlucky enough to be eaten by a shark outside the stricken sub, and the shark swells to monstrously engorged and self-satisfied proportions; thirdly, because Brains is the type of guy who knows how to invent technology but is not too hot on its application, if he is a little slow in getting the spanner to the water pump, the flooding mine begins to flood a little too quickly - and the backroom boffin begins to drown, with his eyes-a-bulging 'neath his goggles.
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.