For many of us shmups fan, Thunder Force is a staple of the genre, Thunder Force II was my first shmup on the Megadrive and needless to say I was quickly hooked and dove without any hesitations into all subsequent episodes.
As we know, Tecnosoft folded into the Twenty-One Company in 2001, Thunder Force VI for Dreamcast got canned. Tecnosoft is now referred as Twenty-One Tecnosoft Division and primarily sells OSTs of past games. SEGA bought the Technosoft IP and brand rights but we’re yet to see anything substantial coming out of that.
The cancellation of Thunder Force VI on Dreamcast coincided with the demise of the Dreamcast and SEGA’s re-orientation as a business, this is has been well documented so I won’t dwell too much into that.
In a previous post, we covered the mini game “R720 with Syrinx” from Segagaga which kind of acts as a love song to the aborted Thunder Force VI on Dreamcast. I’m not sure if any code from TFVI was re-used for this but I’m pretty convinced the Syrinx ship model used there is the real deal.
While we may never (ever?) get Thunder Force VI on DC, the actual soundtrack (or at least what was recorded up to its cancellation) was released, twice, actually:
– In 2001 as Noise Image Soundtrack Vol.3 Broken Thunder
– In 2005 as Broken Thunder – project Thunder Force VI
Official page for this disc here.
Both OSTs are composed for the most part by Hyakutaro Tsukumo (the man behind the soundtrack for Thunder Force V for example) and guests. Both were released by Noise Factory & AG. These soundtracks are pure Tecnosoft sonic bliss. If you haven’t listened to these, I’d highly recommend you do. The CDs are not so hard to find, if you have a proxy in Japan but you can easily listen to them on YouTube.
So what about Broken Thunder the game?
Well, it has a short and sad history I’m afraid… Back in 2005-2006, rumours were starting to circulate that Tecnosoft was to resume operation and hire new staff to work on Thunder Force VI for an unspecified platform. I was sceptical at the time, since the Twenty One Company is mostly focused on pachinko, it made little sense for them to resurrect Tecnosoft just for one game.
It turned out later that Factory Noise & AG (a music company) were in fact the ones developing a Doujin game based on the Thunder Force franchise, unsurprisingly under the name Broken Thunder…
Initially, Factory Noise & AG, released a Preview CD to wet our appetite. The CD contains the opening movie, about some wallpapers and MP3 tracks. A friend of mine in Japan (also a TF fan) bought a copy for me and we both agreed that actually the content of the CD looked really good. I had high hopes for Broken Thunder until it got released…
Broken Thunder was released on Friday, May 3, 2007 by Factory Noise & AG for Windows PC only. 2 editions were available at launch:
– a limited edition that includes the game soundtrack on CD sold for 5,250 yen
– a regular edition was released simultaneously sold for 2,940 yen.
Upon release the game turned out to be fairly Broken… Reviews were really bad for the few that bought it, personally I passed on the purchase… The main problem is that the game was very incomplete, it feels more like an alpha/beta than a proper game. Even the creators admitted via a text file on the game cd and on their website that the game doesn’t even contain 1/3 of the elements designed for the game. FNA planned to release the rest of the contents as a free patch, unfortunately due to poor sales and limited resources, the patch never materialised, the game got pulled out of the shelves and FNA folded soon after.
I believe the other reason for Broken Thunder’s demise is that the Twenty One Company didn’t like their IP to be used without permission and so clearly plagiarised. Around August 2007 the following update appeared on the Tecnosoft website (the real first update since 2001):
Less than a year later we learned that Thunder Force VI was being developed for the PS2 and Broken Thunder fell very quickly into oblivion:
So why bother writing so much about a crap game?
Fast forward to 2016, out of curiosity I bought a copy of Broken Thunder from Japan, I had seen gameplay videos on YouTube and it looked underwhelming. However, as an avid Thunder Force fan, since the release of TFVI on PS2 nothing much has happened with my beloved franchise. So I needed a fix…
After a short installation procedure and a lengthy tuning of the settings to get it to run on Windows 10, I was ready…
Needless to say, the review from back in 2007 were right, this game is a total mess, compared to any Thunder Force games released in the past. The movies for the intro, between level 4&5 and the ending are all well done but I don’t know what FNA were thinking at the time when they released Broken Thunder.
The graphics are very generic and any lack details, the background are static and empty, the animation of the main ship and some of the enemies are ok but the bosses are laughable, they lack any sort of interesting animation. They look like a single block of polygons flying around aimlessly, firing a few bullets here and there for a good measure. The boss of the first level is particularly amusing.
The game is fairly short and the difficulty goes from easy during the levels to nearly impossible during the boss fights, unless you manage well and have 3 claws fully charged before each fight. Even then, the boss of the 4th level is actually pretty vicious, taking inspiration from A3 from Thunder Force V without any of its class…
Despite many many flaws, I still enjoyed Broken Thunder, yes it’s far from being a proper Thunder Force and it’s very unfinished but the soundtrack is so awesome that I mainly play the game over and over just for that 🙂
As most of the gameplay videos on YouTube are fairly old, I decided to make a new one in high resolution, it’s not a full walkthrough but at least you can have a taste of the first 4 levels. I’m planning to do a full run through of the game in the future as well, so stay tuned.
Enjoy the broken Broken Thunder in all its glory and horror:
Also did a speedrun video, with Broken Thunder plugged into Cheat Engine 6.7, here the game runs at 5x speed with infinite lives and over weapon enabled. I don’t generally having cheats enabled but I was messing around with Cheat Engine to find any possible hidden content and I thought just running it at 5x was hilarious but I wanted to see how quickly the game could be completed 🙂