As a child of the 80’s, most of the cartoons I watched as a kid had toys tied in with them. So basically we were watching 30 minute commercials back then. Girls had Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, and Care Bears. Boys had stuff like Transformers and He-Man. If any of these currently sound familiar, it’s because they’re still around today, in new forms for younger generations to enjoy. There were many other 80’s toy and cartoon lines that didn’t quite reach the notoriety of stuff like Transformers, but some got real close. One of those that rode the coattails of the popularity and themes of He-Man was Thundercats. I was never into Thundercats myself (I was more of a Transformers man), but I do remember the old cartoon and many of the kids in my third grade class had Thundercats lunchboxes that year. Now, Cartoon Network has an updated remake of the Thundercats cartoon, and you can enjoy all the adventures of Lion-O and friends on the Nintendo DS.
Thundercats on DS is a 2-D side-scrolling hack and slash beat ‘em up. Play as Lion-O and use your sword to defeat the evil lizard army led by Mum-Ra, who has taken over the Thundercats’ home planet. Lion-O can jump, double jump, use sword combo attacks, charge and downthrust to defeat foes. Sometimes Lion-O can find useful items on the ground or dropped by enemies. Food restores health, sword icons replenish his sword power, and Thundercats emblems allow him to call upon his allies.
Using the Sword of Omens and calling allies requires you to tap icons on the bottom screen. As Lion-O defeats enemies and collects swords, a meter will rise. When it is full and you see “Thundercats, Hoooo!” on the bottom screen, tap the sword for a screen clearing blow. And if you have enough emblems, Lion-O can call upon his friends for a quick attack or other aid. Cat kids WilyKit and WilyKat drop food items (very useful), the cheetah lady performs a whirlwind attack, and the tiger dude shoots his gun all over the place. What? You can’t play as Snarf? Oh, come on!
You can plow through the story mode or challenge separate stages you’ve already cleared to beat your high score. As you play, you’ll unlock various pieces of artwork from the cartoon show that you can view. The only problem I had with the game is that it is very difficult, and full of cheap hits and tough bosses. Skilled gamers who loved Thundercats may appreciate the classic styled challenge, but novice gamers might get a bit frustrated. I guess I can’t finish the review without saying “Thunder…Thunder…Thundercats….HOOOOO!”
Thundercats is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Fantasy Violence. Lion-O and friend do fight monsters with sword slashes and other attacks, but defeated enemies just fall over and disappear. If you’re OK with your kids watching the cartoon show, they’ll be OK with the game, too. Reading skill is helpful for the story and dialogue text, and younger gamers might get frustrated at the higher difficulty.