Unlike a lot of Tengen's hackjob ports to the NES, Rolling Thunder stays very faithful to the original arcade game, and actually seems to have been handled either by the original designers or by someone who really knew what they were doing. The gameplay feels just like that of the arcade, the levels have only minor alterations, even the graphics and music are about as passable an imitation as the little NES's valiant 8-bit heart can muster up.

All that said, it's still Rolling Thunder. You come for the dark manga-like atmosphere, the awesome sound and music, and the crazy pervert alien enemies and goofy begoggled henchmen. You leave around level 3 when the giant bats show up and the cheap-hit festival that the game fundamentally is just becomes too much to bother with anymore, no matter how much of Agent Leyla's clothes get ripped off. The one bonus feature here is a password that allows you to skip creeping through the earlier stages, but still, good luck ever getting past the fucking bats or the lava stages.

Home ports of arcade games are generally toned down some because, after all, they've already got your money, there's no need to siphon more quarters out of your pocket. The NES port of Rolling Thunder cares not for this philosophy at all, however. At the very least they could have removed the knee-shooting Quickdraw McGraw enemies, who existed SOLELY as a quarter-sink for the unwary in the original, and toned the bats and the lava level down some. Those minor tweaks would have made this game tough but compelling. As such it's overdifficult and why fucking bother.

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