Retro Review - Gate of Thunder | Video Games

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Retro Review - Gate of Thunder

I'm about to say something very unpopular. The TurboGrafx-16 is an 8-bit system. That's right, it's an 8-bit system. Oh sure, it may have 16-bit GPUs but it has an 8-bit CPU. What does any of this even mean? I don't know but countless schoolyard friends became bitter enemies over the answers to questions like this or whether you can make Lara Croft's clothes disappear through a cheat. You can't, so stop trying! What we can say for certain is that the TurboGrafx-16 was the first home video game console to release an expansion that used used this crazy new storage medium known as compact discs.

Now even without this, the TubroGrafx-16 was capable of some amazing visuals due to its rich color palette and clever architecture, but with the expanded storage (and sometimes expanded
RAM), it was able to produce games that Nintendo Entertainment System owners could never have dreamed possible on an 8-bit machine. Recorded audio, full motion video and more sprites with greater amounts of animation were all now available in people's own homes.

As the first to adopt this new technology however, the price-tag was high when put on top of the cost already invested for the base console. So the system was later redesigned to combine the CD expansion into the stock unit and it came with several pack-in games to showcase just what it could do. One of these games was Gate of Thunder.

The first thing you'll see when starting Gate of Thunder is an
anime cutscene accompanied by the rocking soundtrack that sets the story. I'm sure this was all mindblowing back in the early 1990s but nobody cares about the story because this game is a shoot-em-up! Simply put, shoot-em-ups or " shmups" are games where you shoot everything. If that sounds too simple however, then there's a catch. You also have to avoid everything. In shmups if there is one golden rule it's "never get hit"

In many shmups, if you get hit, even once, then you die.  Gate of Thunder is a little more forgiving in that it only takes your power ups away - and then you die. Even with all the upgrades, you need to have crack reflexes to dodge the storms of bullets and large enemy spacecraft that fill the screen. So without them, you're screwed. There is always a lot going on which you have to be aware of and it's difficult not to focus too much on one thing or another because this game is just so pretty.

As I mentioned, TurboGrafx games are very bright and colorful but there's also animated background with parallax scrolling, and the sci-fi setting really opens it up for creative levels from alien worlds, to asteroid fields, then space stations and more. "That's great" you say, "but who the hell owns a TurboGrafx-CD?" I don't know anyone else who has one either but that's okay. It's available through Nintendo's Virtual Console service and because it was a pack-in game then you can find the actual disc for relatively cheap to emulate on your home computer or even on the original hardware if you are crazy enough to track down everything you need.

If you think you're "teh hardcorez" playing 
first person shooters then you need to test your skills against a good shmup and this is a great one. Maybe it's not the most difficult one ever made but it still requires a lot of patience, memorization, some psychic powers would be helpful as well as hand-eye coordination and when finished you'll know you're hardcore. Even if you never make it to the end then playing this is still a blast but whether you do or don't or how or where, you should play this game, Gate of Thunder.

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