Written by Russell Archey on 11/21/2012 for 3DS  
More On: Thundercats
Growing up in the '80s, there were several cartoons that I watched on a regular basis, such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and any cartoon based on or around video games. Like a lot of people I know, I also watched Thundercats from time to time, though not as much as my friends did, so I can’t recall specific story elements and such. However, when it was announced a remake was in the works back in July 2011, I decided to check it out, and while I haven’t been able to catch many episodes, I did enjoy what I was able to watch. Of course where there’s a popular cartoon or franchise there’s likely to be a video game based off of it just around the corner. As such, let’s dive into Thundercats on the Nintendo DS.
The game takes place within the first few episodes of the new series, basically going up to when Lion-O seeks the Book of Omens. If you’ve seen the series, then you’ll know exactly what’s going on. It’s an interesting story, but unfortunately that’s probably the best part of this game. Normally I try to hit up the positive aspects of a game as well as the negative, but this time around there’s going to be a huge focus on the negative, because quite frankly I didn’t find too many positives while playing.

Unfortunately, the only character you can play is Lion-O. Granted the other Thundercats can assist you, but I’ll get more into that in a bit. Lion-O’s actions are a little on the clunky side at best. His jumping and attacks seem to take a fraction of a second longer to register than they should, which is a major pain in one stage where you’re jumping on rocks that are falling from the ceiling in a cave. If you hit Right and B at about the same time, you’re just more likely to accidentally run off the cliff or rock than you are to actually jump on the rock. There’s also a slight delay to your attacks, which isn’t as bad as jumping, but still enough to throw off your attack. On top of that, both jumping and attacking suffer from a bad case of “must-wait-for-animation-to-end-before-you-can-do-anything-else.” If you’ve begun attacking something, especially in the middle of a combo, you can’t do anything else until the animation is done, meaning that if an enemy approaches from behind, you’re probably going to get hit.
Speaking of attacking, get used to hitting the A button over and over and over, because that’s what most of this game is. Now and then you can do a jump attack, which is practically worthless, and a crouch stab and slide attack that are equally worthless outside of a couple boss fights. You can also downward stab to knock enemies down, but it doesn’t do much damage. Basically, outside of a few possible options to delay the fight, you’re mostly going to be pressing A over and over, executing the same five-hit combo. Combined with waiting for attack animations to end before you can do anything else, you’re a sitting duck with the way enemies are thrown at you. Typically you’ll get two weak enemies on both sides of you, or one stronger enemy on each side of you. When the area to fight in is only one screen wide, it’s irritating because no matter what you do, you’re likely to get hit because at least two of the enemies (one on each side) have ranged attacks, so no matter which side you try to take down first, you’re likely to get hit by the other side.

It’s not completely hopeless, however. Over time, and as you attack enemies, a blue bar fills up under your health gauge. Once full, you can unleash the full power of your sword: a red beam attack that can take out weaker enemies in one hit and do some decent damage to stronger enemies. Also, as the game progresses, you can unlock the other Thundercats to use as assists. Collecting Thundercats icons allows you to call in a Thundercat to provide some brief assistance, but you can only have three icons stored at once. Of the four, only two are useful. Tygra will basically shoot up the entire screen, causing damage to any enemy on screen at the time, while WilyKit and WilyKat don’t do any damage, but will throw out three items, which are random among food and Thundercats icons. Of the other two, Cheetara can do some damage where you called her in from, and Panthro uses the Thundertank to fire five shots at the screen, but the locations of the shots are entirely random, and most of the time the attacks just miss entirely.
The bosses aren’t too difficult once you know what you’re doing, but they’re just downright tedious. There’s no life bar so there’s no way to tell how close you are to defeating them for the most part. The only bosses that I noticed will somewhat tell you how much longer you have are Mum-Ra and a boss that’s a giant blue drill. Each of them will change up their attacks after taking so much damage, but it’s just a pain to get so far into a boss fight and die, and then have to restart the boss fight.
That’s about all there is to it. As a fan of Thundercats and having watched a bit of the new series, I had high hopes. What I got, though, was a tedious beat-em-up that lasts all of three hours. Yes, as far as I can tell there are only six stages (according to the stats that you can look up from the main menu), and about all of them have three areas each, and if you decide to stop anywhere in a stage and go back to it later, you have to restart the stage all over again, not just the area you left off. The music is so-so, the artwork doesn’t look too bad, and I do like the “cards” you can unlock, which are basically stills taken from the animated series. In fact, the overall look of the game and the stills during the cutscenes, plus those that you can unlock, are about the only real positives I found. Even hearing Lion-O say “Thundercats…HOOOOO!!!” every couple of minutes gets old quickly. While you can replay any stage to improve your time and unlock more cards, I can’t see any reason why you’d want to trudge through any part of the game again. Bottom line, Thundercats is a prime example of a bad game based on a great series.
I had high hopes for Thundercats, but those were dashed within the three hours I spent playing. It’s too short, too tedious, and I would have liked to see better use of the other Thundercats, not just as assists. You can replay prior stages to unlock more cards, but why would you want to?

Rating: 3.5 Heavily Flawed

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I began my lifelong love of gaming at an early age with my parent's Atari 2600.  Living in the small town that I did arcades were pretty much non-existent so I had to settle for the less than stellar ports on the Atari 2600, but for a young kid my age it was the perfect past time, giving me something to do before Boy Scout meetings, after school, whenever I had the time and my parents weren't watching anything on TV.  I recall seeing Super Mario Bros. played on the NES at that young age and it was something I really wanted.  Come Christmas of 1988 (if I recall) Santa brought the family an NES with Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt and I've been hooked ever since.

Over 25 years from the first time I picked up an Atari joystick and I'm more hooked on gaming than I ever have been.  If you name a system, classics to moderns, there's a good chance I've not only played it, but own it.  My collection of systems spans multiple decades, from the Odyssey 2, Atari 2600, and Colecovision, to the NES, Sega Genesis, and Panasonic 3DO, to more modern systems such as the Xbox and Wii, and multiple systems in between as well as multiple handhelds.  As much as I consider myself a gamer I'm also a game collector.  I love collecting the older systems not only to collect but to play (I even own and still play a Virtual Boy from time to time).  I hope to bring those multiple decades of gaming experience to my time here at Gaming Nexus in some fashion.

In my spare time I like to write computer programs using VB.NET (currently learning C# as well) as well as create review videos and other gaming projects over on YouTube.  I know it does seem like I have a lot on my plate now with the addition of Gaming Nexus to my gaming portfolio, but that's one more challenge I'm willing to overcome.
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