LoT.jpg['Parallax Memories' is a regular weekly column by Matthew Williamson, profiling classic '16-bit' games from the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, and other seminal early '90s systems. This week's column profiles Hudsonsoft and Red's stunning, oft-forgotten Sega CD horizontal shooter Lords Of Thunder.]

A Whim, And A Score

Sometimes you do things that you can’t explain. You make purchases on a whim while in a used game store that is more than just a little shady. That was how I came to own what I can only describe as one of the best looking systems that Sega ever put out, the CDX. But what the hell was I going to play on it? Sewer Shark and Night Trap are not my idea of a good time.

armors.pngEager for something worthwhile I acquired a box of old and heavily scratched Sega CD games in a trade. While most were ports of Genesis games with added red book audio one game stood out: Lords of Thunder.

All About Heavy Metal Rock

The initial test of the game to find out if it was even playable led to three straight hours of ear pleasing horizontal shooting. Lords of Thunder is set in a fantasy era of giant flying bugs, sorcerers, magic suits of armor, and heavy metal rock. It was developed by Hudson Soft and Red in 1993 for the PC Engine Super CD-ROM2 as Winds of Thunder, and simultaneously as one of the flag ship games for the doomed Turbo Duo (in the U.S., the Duo version was also called Lords of Thunder). Red also worked with Hudson to create the spiritual brother of the game, Gate of Thunder, and the RPG series Tengai Makyou.

loth.jpgOpening on a stormy night, the soundtrack filled with electric guitars wailing, you hear the story of evil gods planning to plunge the world into darkness. Duran, the hero, is the last of the blood line of the hero-knights and the world’s final hope. Not very original for a development team that also creates RPGs.

Earth, Wind, And Fire?

Classic heavy metal tunes play as you shoot your way through 7 themed levels with huge bosses and hordes of enemies. You start out by picking your level; select one of four armor types (wind, fire, water, and earth) for different attacks, and then proceed to the shop. The woman behind the counter is certainly a curiosity. While her sultry voice acting was included in the Japanese PCE CD release and the Sega CD release of the game, it was not included in Turbo Duo release. Perhaps it was just too damned sexy for kids at the time.

lot-shop.pngUltimately the game is fairly easy. It is generous with health (one hit kills and lives are replaced by a life meter) and power ups. Completing it with one life should be an obtainable task for even the poorest of gamers, although the default difficulty is the lowest of three. The hell with it though, every ounce of this game is pure awesome, and a joy to listen to.

I heavily reconsidered my negative opinions on the Sega CD after this game, and found a few other gems because of it.

[Matthew Williamson is the creator of The Gamer's Quarter, an independent videogame magazine focusing on first person writing. His work has been featured on MTV.com, 1up.com, Chatterbox Radio, and the Fatpixels Radio Podcast.]