19 January 2010
Perhaps you wonder why Lords of Thunder sits comfortably in position #1 of the Top 10 Shoot 'em ups. While the graphics and gameplay are fantastic, they do face very respectable competition. It's the soundtrack that pushes Lords of Thunder well over the top. This is an insanely great example of video game red book audio—probably the best of its kind, period. This music etches itself in your memory—never to be forgotten. For all the love I have of the Sega CD, it never had a single game that came close to offering such an amazing soundtrack. Here we are over 15 years since the release of Lords of Thunder, yet claiming that this is the best shoot 'em up soundtrack in the history of the genre is not going out on a limb. Listen to the stages below and perhaps you'll become a believer as well.
One other note: This game is available on the Wii Virtual Console in all regions. I say this not to plug Nintendo—which has done a terrible job marketing the VC, a topic that deserves its own column—but rather because the download is such a deal compared to the cost of playing the original game on original hardware. Let's consider the options for gamers in North America:
Option #1: TurboGrafx + CD Expansion + Super System Card + Lords of Thunder CD
Estimated cost: $275 — if you can find it all
Option #2: TurboDuo + Lords of Thunder CD
Estimated cost: $300 — if you can find them
Option #3: Wii + Lords of Thunder VC Download
Exact cost: $130 to $150 (new Wii) + $8 download + tax
The TurboGrafx-16 + CD and TurboDuo are so scarce these days that it's tough to even come up with accurate estimates. Suffice it to say, getting a current-gen console plus one of the best shoot 'em ups ever for such a relatively low cost is a pretty killer deal. Not to mention all the other VC games that are out there to download!
For those who read this far, a little extra reward. A certain non-labled continent below contains the music for the final stage. Imagine that!