Codex Gamicus

Rolling Thunder (ローリングサンダー?) is a run and gun arcade game that was released by Namco in 1986. It runs on the Namco System 86 hardware platform and was licensed for US distribution to Atari Games. The player takes the role of a secret agent who must save his female partner from a terrorist organization.


File:Rolling Thunder (arcade version).png

Screenshot of the arcade version of Rolling Thunder.

The player takes control of Albatross, a member of Interpol's "Rolling Thunder" espionage unit. Albatross's mission is to save a missing female agent named Leila Blitz from a secret society named Geldra located in New York (Level 1: Brooklyn, Level 2: Manhattan, Level 3: Harlem and Queens, Level 4: Bronx).

Albatross must travel through two different segments or "stories", each composed of five stages, for a total of ten stages. Depending on the dip switch settings, the player has the option to start the game from any point in "Story 1" (making the first four stages skippable if desired). On each stage, the player can enter doors to hide from enemies (a feature inspired by Taito's Elevator Action), as well jump over to higher or lower floors with rails, including stairs (a feature reused in Sega's Shinobi). The stages in "Story 2" are essentially harder version of their "Story 1" counterparts, featuring more traps and different enemy placement. At the end of each stage, scenes from Leila's capture and ensuing torture are shown on a large monitor screen.

The player begins the game armed with a standard-issue pistol, which can be substituted with a fully-automatic assault rifle that allows for continuous firing by holding down the shoot button. The player can find ammunition for either weapon by entering doors which are marked "bullets" or "arms". If the player runs out of machine gun ammo, they will switch back to the pistol. However, if the pistol runs out of ammo as well, then the player can only fire a single slow "chaser" bullets on-screen at a time until more ammo is acquired. Despite the presence of a life meter, the player can only take two physical hits from the enemy: a single hit drains half of the meter and the player is killed instantly when struck by a projectile attack such as enemy bullets or lasers.

The main enemies in Rolling Thunder are hooded soldiers known as "Maskers". Maskers are dressed in various outfits and colors, which determines their strength and attacking pattern respectively. Some Maskers do not shoot, but throw grenades instead, while others will shoot their gun below waist-level. Other enemies include mutated bats, shrieking yellow creatures and lava men. At the end of the tenth and final stage, the player must battle Geldra leader Maboo to rescue Leila and complete their mission.

Home versions[]

File:RT US cover2.jpg

U.S. cover artwork of the NES version.

In 1988, U.S. Gold released home computer versions of Rolling Thunder in Europe for ZX Spectrum,[1] Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Amiga and Atari ST. These five computer versions were developed by Tiertex.

On March 17, 1989, Namco released a home version of Rolling Thunder for the Family Computer in Japan. This version was localized in North America by Tengen, which released their version of the game for the Nintendo Entertainment System as an unlicensed title without Nintendo's approval. The Famicom/NES version features a few minor changes and additions from the arcade version, such as a password feature, hidden bonuses, and a harder second mission that is accessible by inputting a password given to the player for completing the normal mission. Namco's Famicom version of Rolling Thunder features a few slight changes from Tengen's NES version, including a different sound chip due to restrictions on custom chips for NES cartridges.

There was also an Atari Lynx version by Atari that was featured in many magazines but for what ever reason never saw a release.

The original arcade version is featured in Namco Museum Encore for the PlayStation, Namco Museum Battle Collection for the PlayStation Portable, and in 'Namco Museum 50th Anniversary' for PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox and PC. The arcade version was released for the Wii Virtual Console in Japan on July 21, 2009.


Rolling Thunder was followed by a single sequel for the arcades titled Rolling Thunder 2 in 1990. A Genesis version of Roling Thunder 2 was released in 1991, followed by a Genesis-exclusive sequel titled Rolling Thunder 3, released exclusively in North America in 1993.


  1. Rolling Thunder at World of Spectrum

External links[]

fr:Rolling Thunder (jeu vidéo)