The Unconverted: Th Strikes Back
Developer: Gaelco Year: 1994 Genre: Run-and-gun
We’ve never heard of it either, but Nick has and it’s worth playing
Sometimes, a game just needs to deliver a ludicrous power fantasy. All you want is a hulking, shirtless dude running around blasting aliens with a big laser gun – and that’s exactly what TH Strikes Back delivers. The game is the sequel to 1992’s Thunder Hoop, a promising but somewhat flawed run-and-gun that suffered from a rather uneven difficulty level. TH Strikes Back is bigger, brasher and better designed than its predecessor in all regards.
There’s nothing tremendously innovative about
TH Strikes Back, but it’s a polished execution of a popular genre. As expected, the majority of your time is spent blasting enemies en route to a showdown with an end-of-level boss, although the game has a heavier emphasis on platforming challenges than the likes of the Metal Slug games. You’ll find rails to hang from, conveyor belts to impede your progress, and spring platforms to cross chasms, and there’s even a challenging obstacle dodging section on a small moving platform. Enemies are sufficiently varied, too, ranging from standard humanoid grunts to flying beasts and even guard dog-style baddies, all of which explode into a satisfying shower of bits when shot. Bosses are interesting from the off too – even the first one has four attack patterns, a shielded area and help from regular grunts.
While the guitar rock soundtrack isn’t particularly memorable, it does fit the action well. However, the graphical detail is pretty impressive. The cartoon aesthetic is strong and although the environments are predominantly industrial, there’s a good splash of colour thanks to the diverse nature of the enemies. There’s a good amount of detail in both the sprites and backgrounds, with cool minor details such as rats scurrying about that add a lot of character.
TH Strikes Back would have made a fun home release in the early days of the 32-bit market, before 3D games had properly come to dominate the market. However, Gaelco had not yet begun its ultimately limited involvement in the home market (that would wait until 1998’s Radikal Bikers), meaning that the game unfortunately remained exclusive to the arcades.
This boss fight takes place across two levels, as you can see from the grunt just making the jump up from the bottom level to the top here. It looks like this boss is walking away from you, but he’s actually advancing towards you backwards, to take advantage of his thickly shielded back.
Timing your moves across this pit is important – the flames here are part of a burst that will rise up and impede the progress of our hero. These platforms are actually big springs, which can propel you across this spiked pit – but only once you’ve cleared the path of those flying enemies.