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Thundercats (Video Game Review)

Thundercats ruled the world of animated kids shows in the late 80s, and the show has continued to see continued success with fans that continue to show support for their favorite heroes and will never let the series go away for good. Thundercats has ventured into the video game world several times before, but unfortunately for publisher Namco Bandai and developer Aspect Digital Entertainment, the newest outing plays much more like a poor excuse for a game that was released when the series was still new. Awkward animations, slow pacing and incredibly repetitive gameplay crushes fans dreams of having a great new game from the Thundercats and ensures there likely won't be another attempt for a long time.

Thundercats follows along the storyline of the series very closely. A war between the native cat race of Thunderians and the evil Lizard army, led by the sorcerer Mumm-Ra and his general Grune the Destroyer, has left the planet in ruins and the once peaceful tribe nearly wiped off the planet. The young leader Lion-O will need to use the power of his ancient Sword of Omens to battle back and defeat the Lizards once and for all, with the help of his friends Tygra, Cheetara, Panthro, WilyKat & WilyKit. While the storyline of the game sounds exciting, it is poorly told through chat boxes between characters and text accompanied with pictures between missions of the game. While the game begins with the classic "Thundercats Hoooo!" quote, the excitement is quickly drained by the lackluster narrative that is never more entertaining than in the game's opening cutscene.

Platforming in Thundercats is incredibly awkward as Lion-O moves only side to side and can perform double jumps to help clear gaps. The movement is slow and the responses the controller inputs are even slower. compounding the movement controls are stiff animations while performing any of Lion-O's special attacks, as he sends forth a powerful charged slash or jumps with a downward thrust onto his enemies. Still, you'll rarely use these attacks and will soon rely simply on quick attacks that will always send Lion-O sliding forward and put him in dangerous positions far too often. Lion-O also has a few powerful attacks in the form of a energy blast from Sword of Omens after he has landed enough hits and summoning friends to attack enemies, all of which are slightly underwhelming and controlled with the bottom touch screen on the Nintendo DS. Stages typically require little less than defeating hordes of the same enemies only to fight a boss at the end of the stage who has no life meter or way to show how much damage has been dealt over the duration of combat, which can lead to some frustrating times as well.

If Thundercats has one enjoyable aspect it's in the classic look and sound department. While the animations and scenes of narration are abysmal, the sprites themselves are colorful and drawn just as you'd see in the classic cartoon. The soundtrack manages to produce nostalgia effects from days wasting quarters in the arcade trying to complete stages with limited lives as well, but it's just not nearly enough to save this game. A couple of additional modes are available in Thundercats in the form of the timed Stage Attack Mode and the replayable Result Review Mode, but neither will offer up anything better than what you will experience in the regular arcade mode. If you're a fan of the Thundercats series, go purchase the show on DVD or find a good comic of the series to save yourself plenty of frustration. For everyone else, Thundercats will give moments of brisk entertainment and nostalgia, but has many flaws that may be hard to overlook.

Thundercats is now available from all major retailers for the MSRP of $29.99 and can be purchased exclusively for Nintendo DS. Thundercats is rated E by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official Thundercats website.

Game Features:
  • Single Player
  • Stage Attack Mode
  • Review Previous Matches
  • 4 Support Characters
  • Touch Screen Controls

  • Game Information:
    Developer: Aspect Digital Entertainment
    Publisher: Namco Bandai
    Available exclusively for Nintendo DS
    Release Date: October 30, 2012

    Score: 4.5 out of 10
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