Thunder Castle


Review by Ryan Amos



Graphics: 9

Sound: 10

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 9

Thunder Castle is an original, arcade-style maze game for the Intellivision. It's also a game with an unusually long history behind it. Originally developed by Connie Goldman at Mattel back in 1982, the game looked like it wasn't going to be released when Mattel closed shop after the video game crash. It wasn't until INTV hired David Warhol to help Connie finally finish and release it, four years later.

Thunder Castle has you controlling the heroic knight in his quest to destroy the forces of evil. As courageous as you are, you are not strong enough to defeat them alone so you'll need to find magic creatures to energize you and magic items to help slay your foes. The first level begins in a forest maze where you must defeat three dragons (a green, yellow and a red one). The dragons will get progressively faster after each defeat, and only after destroying them all can you move to the next maze. Level two takes place inside the castle where you must fight six sorcerers. They will come at you two at a time, and you have to catch a mouse to power up (energize) and defeat your foes. The final maze pits our hero against nine demons deep in the dungeons of the castle. They fight in packs of three, move very quickly and can trap you easily. This level is where the difficulty really ramps up, as you only have time for a quick strategy. Here, you'll need to find the magical skull to energize, but it teleports randomly around the dungeon, adding yet to the challenge. If you complete this level, you'll traverse back to the forest and fight the enemies again with higher difficulty modifications. The game's graphics are incredibly detailed, and the animation of all of the characters is astounding. Connie Goldman designed three unique, moving splash screens for each level, and it is something that makes this title stand out from any other Intellivision game. In a sly move, she also hid her name or initials (along with co-programmer, David Warhol's) in each of the splash screens. See if you can find them all.

The music is also top-notch. David Warhol remixed classical tunes from Beethoven to Schubert and used them in the game, so there is plenty of audio enjoyment, with background music and different tunes that vary from maze to maze. It is easily the best music in any commercial Intellivision game to date. The gameplay is quite unique. On the simplest level, there is a "cat and mouse" aspect to the game. When you're weak, you're being chased by your foes, but when you energize, the tables quickly turn as they run from you. Another key to your survival are the moving gates in each of the mazes. They slowly open and close, so you have to be sure that you don't get trapped in an area with your enemy. The magical items in the game also enhance play. Most of them are helpful that allow you to pass through a locked gate, speed you up, or prolong the length of your energize time. It may sound simple, but the game is far from easy. The difficulty starts out straightforward enough, but gradually rises in each maze after defeating an enemy. It's a game that is easy to pick up, but difficult to conquer.

There aren't many single player games on the Intellivision that reach the quality of Thunder Castle. Ultimately, its combination of outstanding gameplay, graphics and sound elevate it to an unparalleled level on the system.

Connie Goldman and David Warhol combined their efforts on many INTV releases, but also worked on Racing Destruction Set for theC64 and Atari 8-bit.


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Last updated: Sunday, February 08, 2004 12:44 PM