Game Cover
©1985 Game Arts
Release: 1985-12-19 (¥5500)
Cartridge SQF-TX
Platform/Action game

Thexder is a multi-scrolling action shooter published by Square and developed by Bits, and it is the conversion of a popular Japanese action game originally created by Game Arts in 1985. Thexder takes place in a distant future and the player assumes the role of an elite mecha pilot on a lone and perilous commando mission to save humanity. The objective of the game is to absolve several large maze-like bases and to destroy the enemy's mainframe computer. The humanoid combat vehicle is equipped with a powerful auto-targeting rifle gun (provided the enemies are near enough), as well as a limited particle shield allowing it to withstand damage from enemy fire for a short amount of time. But the battle robot comes with another ingenious feature - it is capable of transforming into a fighter-jet, zipping around at high speeds through small gaps and narrow corridors and able to reach areas the humanoid robot can't. However, the jet trades away speed and maneuverability for weaker weaponry and can only shoot forward... Another important aspect of the game is energy management (which also acts as health). The player starts his mission with two hundred energy units and using the shield (which drains thirty points) or getting hit by enemy fire significantly reduces it - energy depletes fast in Thexder and if the counter reaches zero, the robot goes to oblivion. Thankfully, some (rare) enemies release energy when destroyed and give the player temporary relief. Thexder consists of five levels and is single-player only.
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Thexder - PC8801 Thexder was originally developed by Game Arts in 1985 . The first version was released for the NEC PC-8801 Japanese computer (picture on the right) and the game soon became a hit. It was later ported to several Japanese systems such as the Fujitsu FM-7 (1985), Famicom (1985), MSX (1986), NEC PC-9801 (1986) and Sharp X1. Interestingly, the American company Sierra happened to notice the success of Thexder in Japan (and consequently the success of Game Arts). Sierra decided to acquire the rights of Thexder and to import the game to the United States - it was ported to the Apple II (1987), Commodore Amiga (1987), PC MS-DOS (1987), Tandy TRS-80 (1987) and Apple Macintosh (1990). The port was actually quite faithful to the original Japanese game and became a sizable hit - mind you, transformable robots ruled the world back in the 1980s and Thexder fit right in. A sequel to the game followed in 1989 - the game, called Firehawk (aka Thexder the Second Contact) was first released for the NEC PC-8801 in Japan and was later ported to the MSX (1989) and PC MS DOS (1990). Another version worth mentioning is Thexder 95, an enhanced version of the first Thexder released on CD Rom for PC Computers in 1995. The game featured pre-rendered 3D graphics, a short introduction sequence, new levels and a new 'tank' mode for the player to transform into. Finally, Thexder Neo was released in 2009 by Square/Enix and this exclusively to the Playstation Portable and Playstation 3 (only as downloads). The game is a faithful remake of the original Thexder with enhanced 3D graphics and stunning visual effects - but it is as hard and unforgiving as the original.

This Famicom port of Thexder has noticeable differences with the original game. There are only five levels (compared to sixteen) and the stage layout is different in many places. But the major departure from the original game is the auto-targeting laser which was replaced with a less effective and slower auto-targeting bullet gun.


Thexder manual
Click on picture to enlarge


Add your Pov here !

Thexder was a very popular game in Japan and it gained its share of fame in the west thanks to Sierra. The original PC-88 version is rather fun to play and the transformable mech was most probably pure joy to look at back in the 1980s. But I feel that this Famicom version doesn't deliver the goods... The levels have been dramatically cut down in size and the original sixteen stages have been turned into five uneven areas. And yet, I think that the worst offender is the auto-targeting laser - it was replaced here by a bullet-gun, and although it still automatically aims at the enemy, it is a lot slower and often misses! Then the game is incredibly difficult - the robot is bulky and enemies don't die when they collide with you. This particular flaw is really annoying and losing a full bar of energy against a single missile or a swarm of drones is utterly frustrating (oh, and yes, you have only one life to complete the whole game). All in all, Thexder is an OK but merciless action/shooter and you will definitively have to arm yourself with patience to enjoy this one...

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