I'm still trying to make my mind up whether Thundercross is a shoot-'em-up with a difference or just another Uridium clone with bells on and a space saga on the inlay to jazz it up a bit.
The Thundercross is the most powerful dreadnought in the galaxy. An unusual-looking design with two engines at the rear and guns protruding from every other available inch of metal, it finds itself in the grip of a powerful tractor beam. To begin with the drain on its power resources is barely perceptible, but the grip tightens and before long the chief engineer has to concede "it's a tractor beam cap'n, I dinna think we can told out much longer."
As the Thundercross is slowly sucked towards the source of its captors, the first wave of enemy ships begins its attack run. Damage from the strange yellow blobs of their cannon are depleting the shields which are already at dangerously low levels. The best form of defence is attack, so they say, and, of course, they're right. With up to eight guns pointing in every compass direction you need little incentive to get blasting.The one drawback the Thundercross designers seem to have overlooked is that not being able to fire and manoeuvre at the same time can cause severe difficulties. I guess that's the price you pay for having a gun poking in every conceivable direction. One big advantage of this design though, is that you don't have to turn to fire at something that isn't in front of you - wherever it is you're bound to get it sooner or later. Tactics are, however, of the utmost importance, and if you don't get it right the first time around there are no second chances.
The truly great Thundercross captain gets the ship into a fairly central position on the screen and starts blasting in all directions straight away. Those tempted to idly gaze at the starscape scrolling by will get a nasty surprise when the first alien ship creams in and collides with the upper gun turret. From there on, it's keep blasting in all directions. The best tactic is to keep your finger on the fire button and tap the joystick in whichever direction they're coming from. That way, if some of your guns get taken out by kamikaze aliens, maximum firepower will still be concentrated where it's needed most. And don't forget to keep an eye on those shields.
If you survive the first wave with shields intact, the space hoover - origin of the tractor beam looms up on the right of the screen. The raised defences of the space hoover will fire relentlessly in your path and these must be taken out at the earliest opportunity with your forward facing 45, 90 and 135 degree guns. Collision with hoover defences is fatal and unless your manoeuvring skills are superb, if you fail to destroy them all you end up as so much yellow blob fodder.
The true test of skill comes at the end of the space hoover. Here you must hang back at the far left of the screen and blast the raised defences with everything you've got. Only then will it disintegrate and give way to the second alien attack - needless to say a wee bit more difficult to cope with than the first.
There's nothing wrong with Thundercross - not much of a recommendation I know. The graphics and animation are good, and the music on the intro screen is great. It's a good blast, tough enough for the most competent - none of this five lives nonsense, when you cop it, that's your lot. The one thing you can be sure of though is that it won't win any awards for originality.