This post is dedicated to my brothers, friends and family
The game to get the fifth hundred place in my collection is…
Watch the video. Just watch it now. The text’s not going to go anywhere
Fifth Stage begins with an ascend to the heavens. The Booster Parts are attached all the while Steel of Destiny, one of the top five video game tracks, starts playing in the background. It’s a majestic feeling, that turns into a rush of adrenaline when you realize how much firepower the Booster Parts give you. You might fly through the stage without a hit, but when the Vasteel Original appears on the screen, the player freezes for a moment; it’s the ship you controlled in the previous game, and this one is much stronger, and you’re the one going all out against it.
Dear readers, this is the memory that defined Thunder Force V for me. The way it’s designed in nothing short of brilliant. I’m willingly disregarding the fact that none of you have played Thunder Force IV to fully understand the impact Vasteel Original. When I first heard Steel of Destiny kicking in with those few hits of drumsticks, I knew that this is where the ride begins. To put it simply; the game just went ten to eleven on the awesome scale.
The Thunder Force series was never known for its originality or “innovative” gameplay. No, the series was known for it’s extremely well polished gameplay, for the awesome synth music it had, extremely well balanced stages and weapon selection and impressive graphics. By all means, this level of polish makes Thunder Force look like something extremely special even in the STG genre.
I say this as a compliment; Thunder Force games are the most well polished standard STG games you can find. They’re worth your every dime. Well, you can always argue about the first two, but let’s not get into that one.
The design world of Thunder Force V is nothing short of excellent. Gauntlet’s design is simple but it captivates the eye. It’s unique in a sense that there’s not really anything like it outside the Thunder Force games. The balanced mix of simple blue and white are accented with the green canopy, red markings and golden details. Most of nozzle and engine blocks are almost completely black with a hint of smoke grey.
Quite honestly, the guy who designed this knows what he works.
When the Booster Parts are attached, the Gauntlet takes the form of Vambrace for space use. Much of the bulk is lost; the side wings are replaced with two power long ranged guns, the underside gains a cannon, the one intake nozzle is changed for two. The Gauntlet becomes much more compact and faster looking bird of prey, but with the Booster Parts it becomes a massive strike unit. In the stage you see it ravaging its path with an enormous one directional beam, and how it has the power to break the atmosphere under its own thrust power thanks to the large rocket behind. Despite of its increased mass and size, I believe this version of the Gauntlet is extremely fast made for deep space hit-and-run missions, the likes Stage 5. However, as seen in the game, it can be discarded for more agile and manoeuvreable dog fighting, the like of Stage 6.
I may be overanalysing it a bit, but it all makes good sense in the context of the game.
To put it simply; Thunder Force V is an excellent game that I’d recommend anybody in a heartbeat. It’s without a doubt one of the top five STG games alongside R-Type DELTA, Gradius GAIDEN, G DARIUS and ZANAC X ZANAC. I do have a strong bias towards it, but with a good reason. For every bad point the game has, it has two good points.
It’s a piano song. Play it
In these countdown posts I’ve been talking about memories. These games I own are not just a form of entertainment for me, they’re a library of memories. Every game holds a specific memory for me, whether it be when my brothers showed me how to cheat with a Game Genie, or kicking the NES in Battletoads and suddenly transporting to another stage.
There’s a memory where me and my friend were playing Super Mario 3 and having more fun than ever on Sunday’s in upper secondary-school.
There’s a memory in Guilty Gear X2 from one of my celebrations where Daironeri alongside many of my friends, including a very dear person to me, were playing and I lost almost all of my matches even if I was using an arcade controller.
I remember looking at Shenmue when I bought my Dreamcast with Karhumies, a man I have a lot of respect for.
I remember purchasing Makeruna Makendo with my Daironeri and Terorrist from Osaka’s Hot Potato after some searching and finding out that it had a drama CD included.
I can still feel the excitement of fighting the upgraded version of Bass in Mega Man Battle Network 3 just before going to school with GameBoy Player on TV screen; the sweat, the pulse I had going through, the feeling of utter edge when I had 1HP left and Bass was in 200HP out of 2000HP.
I remember my father beating Dr. Mario on the most difficult setting. That’s the only game he ever beat. I remember trying to figure out X-COM 2 on his laptop as well with my brothers with horrible consequences, or that time when we were playing Tecmo Cup Soccer Game with my brothers and we had that strange old floppy disc computer and I almost broke it…
I remember my past with these games. They tell a tale of my life, every one of the holds one drop of my tears and spirit. They’re important to me for this sole reason and for these memories I can’t part with them. All of them are a part of who I am. I could go through every single game and tell you about my dearest memories with them, with the people whom with I’ve played it and what kind of fun we had. It brings tears to my eyes to think that there are memories I can never quite relive, be with my brothers, father, friends or those whom I’ve shared my deepest feelings with. I can always invoke those feelings and words, and create something new from that single game.
I can replay a game as many times I want. I can jump on Goombas again and fight against Epyon with Wing Zero in Gundam W Endless Duel again and again…
Yes, every game in these five hundred holds more than five hundred memories. One single moment in a game might hold more memories than a photo album for me. Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien will always be a painful visual novel to read for me for one memory in one selected scene, whereas I can’t help myself but to smile whenever I replay Mega Man X4. (Marco, let’s do that some day again, let’s rip a new hole for this game.)
A new game always brings new memories. KoFXIII and Penta Dragon will remind me of this countdown, and they will stack memories in the future. I bet when Penta Dragon will get stacked with some weird memories, as I’m intending it to become my full-time travel companion. There’s so many memories on Super Mario Bros. that it’s not even possible me to remember all of them. (Dying on the first enemy on the first stage, and you’ve been playing this game for what, TWENTY years now!?)
Some day I’ll write my most prevailing memories of these games into a booklet for myself. It won’t be a diary or a biography. It will be a collection of memories, both good and bad.
Thank you for sharing all these game with me. Sit down with me once more, and let’s fire up that one game again and let’s make some new memories, shall we?
It be might filled with Engrish, but still, it’s the perfect ending for Thunder Force V, and shows the duality of it all…