You know, maybe it's just me. I cherish my childhood. After all, the 1980's were good to me: I had an Atari 7800, loved zipping my Penny Racers all over the kitchen floor, and enjoyed watching the original 'Thundercats' cartoon on TV. So, maybe it's me who, after playing the Namco Bandai published Nintendo DS game Thundercats, thought it was one of the worst games on the system. I am, after all, protective of my childhood and greatly dislike seeing it destroyed.
Then again, maybe this new Thundercats video game really is just that bad.
In this mindless, button-mashing beat-em-up game, you play as the Thundercats big-man (err...lion) Lion-O. Armed with the fabled Sword of Omens, he hacks, slashes, and... well... doesn't do much else. And what he does do, he takes his own sweet time in doing it -- almost as if he's having some sort of internal debate as to whether or not he wants to swing the sword when the "B" button is pressed like he's supposed to. Aggravating? Yes, indeed. Sure, Lion-O's sword gets some fairly nifty upgrades as the game progresses, but they're little more than some pretty decorations upon a steaming heap of... well, you get the idea.
There is one fairly nifty thing that Lion-O can do that is worth mentioning as a plus simply because it looks cool on screen (though it's just this side of worthless in actual gameplay). As Lion-O attacks, he has a power gauge that will fill up over time. Upon filling and activating this gauge, the true power of his Sword of Omens is unleashed. When this happens, the player is treated to a mildly-impressive display on the DS' upper screen that is probably supposed to fry all of the baddies on the screen. Sadly, many enemies do little more than shrug off this under-powered super attack -- further aggravating a presumably already aggravated player.
Finally, because 'Thundercats' the cartoon is about more than just the adventures of the furry He-Man that is Lion-O, this Aspect Digital developed game includes other characters fro the TV show's animated cast in the way of support characters. These work similar to how support characters in the fighting game Marvel vs Capcom did, appearing on the screen briefly to perform a very simple, yet helpful act. The problem here, however, is that the assists provided by Cheetara, Tygra, and others aren't very helpful at all. Sometimes it seems like they do nothing more than appear on screen, fix their hair, then leave Lion-O to fend for himself. Aspect Digital, if you're going to include a NPC assist feature, it's best to make sure the characters actually do some legitimate assisting.
Gameplay is a major weak point for Thudercats, but it's not the only one. This game's level design leaves way too much to be desired. Each stage comes across as extremely uninspired, as do the mass majority of the enemies. Many of these enemies, by the way, do little more than mull about mindlessly as if their only purpose in life was to die by Lion-O's underwhelming swordplay. Furthermore, between the massive amounts of baddies and the slight delay in the game's controls, pretty much the only strategy worth employing is bashing the "B" button until either the baddies die, Lion-O swoons, or (most advisably) the player turns his/her DS off to do something more enjoyable such as a tooth extraction.
So, between this game's vastly inferior controls, underwhelming gameplay, and uninspired overall game design, Thundercats on the Nintendo DS is a game best avoided -- especially by those who grew up with the iconic cartoon.
"Thundercats, ho!"? How about "Thundercats, No!".
Final Game Guys grade: D-
(Namco Bandai provided a copy of this game for review.)