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Antstream Arcade Archive: Rolling Thunder

In our latest Antstream Arcade Archive, we take a look at another specific retro game from the Antstream Arcade vault, giving you the lowdown on its plot, gameplay and more. This week we present the arcade legend, Rolling Thunder, a 1987 platform run ‘n’ gun game that refreshed its genre and thrilled gamers all over the world with its James Bond-like spy antics.

OK, this looks very cool!

It sure does! Released into arcades in 1987, Rolling Thunder has some smart graphics and tight, focused gameplay, making it a very special game. Mix in the cool soundtrack and its slick Sixties aesthetic and you’ve got a fine videogame that’s also something of a stiff challenge for gamers of all ages.

So what’s it about – I presume a spy plot of some sort?

That’s right, although instead of Blofeld, the head bad guy is called Maboo, which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. The player takes on the role of Albatross, a key member of the Rolling Thunder special police unit, and he’s on a mission to rescue his colleague, Leila Blitz, from the clutches of the Geldra crime syndicate and its legion of hooded villains. Licence to kill – a lot.

Woo! So I’ve got a Walther PPK, right?

More or less, as Albatross’ pistol looks a little more elongated than 007’s standard issue pistol. He has a limited supply of ammunition, but fortunately this can be topped up by popping into one of the doors marked ‘Bullet’, and there’s even the occasional power up which gives the spy a rapid-fire machine gun.

Now I have a machine gun – ho ho ho!

Wrong franchise, but we’ll let you off. While ammunition of all the weapons must be preserved, there’s a literal army of enemies soon swarming around Albatross. That machine gun is going to come in handy…

Sounds a tough game.

In the time honoured arcade fashion, Rolling Thunder starts out easy with the basic masked bad guy unarmed and generally harmless. It isn’t long, however, before some of the henchmen start shooting back – the cads – and with each level branching upwards as well as sideways, this super spy has to stay sharp if he’s to rescue the beautiful Leila.

So plenty of exotic locations to visit?

Erm… no. From a grimy warehouse, to a factory, underground tunnels and the Geldra’s hidden lair, there’s no sign of any palm trees or shimmering blue waters in this game. You’ll need to get your vitamin D from elsewhere, agent.

Bah! Any tips for a budding 007?

Albatross has a long pair of legs and they come in useful when the agent needs to spring up and down the platforms that litter the game. Mastering the behaviour of the enemies is vital. Standard purple hoods are easily despatched, but even the unarmed yellows, who take two shots to kill, can be troublesome in crowds. And it won’t be long before the blue hoods start lurking on the edge of the screen; these guys fire at Albatross and also take two shots to kill, while the grey hoods unhelpfully lob grenades at the spy. Time your shots so not one bullet is wasted and you may just stand a chance of springing poor Leila from captivity, and keep an eye out for those extra ammo doors!

How does the high score table look?

Very nice, thanks. Oh, you mean who’s who when it comes to Rolling Thunder on Antstream Arcade? Sitting at number three is Maliy with just shy of 80 thousand points while Beanhed81 lurks above them at number two with 104,040 points. Sitting proudly at number one, tucked away in his secret underground lair is Segandy with an impressive 133,600 points. That’ll take some beating. Cue evil cackle.

Right, I’ve got my penguin suit on and am ready to roll into this thunder. But is there anything similar available on Antstream Arcade?

There are lots of spy-related retro games on Antstream Arcade and we heartily recommend two in particular. Data East’s Sly Spy is even more blatant in its James Bond tropes, while the Commodore 64 classic Impossible Mission stars another athletic spy in a mission against all the odds. Stay awhile – stay forever – on Antstream Arcade!

Watch out for another Antstream Arcade Archive soon!

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