It's fun to pick off thugs but there's no blood. When innocent people pop up it's really hard to resist shooting them. Even after all these years I'm still shooting the woman in the bank who yells "help me!" Occasionally a hostage is taken, and it feels satisfying to pick off the bad guy without hurting the hostage. Your targets are slightly randomized but it feels like the same experience each time through. Each stage concludes with a tough boss like a guy in a van with a rocket launcher or a knife-throwing Asian dude.
My biggest problem with Lethal Enforcers is that you have to play the stages in order and the game won't even let you advance unless you're nearly perfect. Lethal Enforcers can also be played with a regular controller but I wouldn't recommend it. If you own a second gun (the pink one) you can engage in some two-player (or double barrel) action. I really like the game's "Starsky and Hutch" style soundtrack but the rougher Genesis version arguably has more charm. The sound effects and vocals are clear, meaning you can actually understand them this time. Overall the Sega CD Lethal Enforcers is an upgrade but not a mandatory one. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Most of the scenery isn't destructible but you can shoot out the occasional window and lamp. When you hit an enemy in the arm or leg he'll flinch but won't die. Shoot a crook in a window and he'll hurl himself through it as any respectable outlaw would. The action is pretty much non-stop until the screen goes black for 10-15 seconds to load a new scene. Hmmm I don't recall this happening with the first game. At one point I thought the game was broken!
If you don't have the gun you can get by with a normal controller, but why does the cursor look like red lips? The worst aspect of the game is its boss fights which run so long they make my hand hurt. The digitized graphics are kind of mediocre, but in the scene when Indians attack a stagecoach the illusion of speed and depth is impressive.
The audio is noticeably clearer than the Genesis version, with more variation with the bad guy lines ("take that varmint!"). Of course, when you take into account the load times it's pretty much a wash. Lethal Enforcers II is exactly what you'd expect in a Wild West shooter - no more and no less. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Loadstar is played from a first-person point of view, as you steer some kind of transport vehicle over a network of tracks running through narrow trenches. There are a few tunnels and some scenery in the distance, but in general every stretch of track looks the same. The controls allow you to shoot at flying police robots, activate a shield, or blow your horn to nudge slow traffic. A cursor is used to both steer and aim at enemies, and it's a pretty clumsy system.
The graphics themselves aren't too bad, and blasted enemies burst into colorful explosions. Should you collide with another vehicle, you'll see a rather disturbing clip of some guy getting his skin blown off, leaving only a skeleton. I can't forget to mention the obligatory comical sidekick, who in this case is played by a talking smiley face on a monitor. Loadstar had some potential, but its confusing navigation system renders the game practically unplayable.
Somehow you're supposed to use the compass at the top of the screen to guide you to your destination, but I couldn't figure it out, and the instruction manual was no help. After endlessly driving around the tracks that all look the same, I turned the game off in disgust. I did find it amusing how the manual listed Loadstar hats and shirts that you could order, as if the the game was going to be a surefire hit. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
But the biggest atrocity is the audio. The guitar-driven soundtrack is almost completely drowned out by awful sound effects that sound like rubber bands, dull thuds, and trash can lids. To say the game is not pleasing to the ear would be an understatement. The difficulty is much lower as well, which isn't going to endear it to hardcore shooter fans. The only thing this Sega CD version has to offer is a voice for the shopkeeper lady (who speaks with a "come hither" tone), and some pointless narrated intro scenes.
That said, Lords of Thunder is still more playable than most of the full motion video (FMV) junk that pervades the Sega CD library. Instead of a spaceship, you control a flying mystical warrior who sprays rapid-fire missiles and brandishes a sword during close combat. You can select between six worlds and four weapon types.
Each world offers a unique environment (snow, fire, water, etc) and an assortment of imaginative creatures which include levitating wizards, flaming phoenix birds, and gigantic sea serpents. I like how soldiers are deployed from large airships, and some monsters scale in from the backgrounds. The bosses are really tough if your power is low, but if you're loaded up they're not a problem. Lords of Thunder is a respectable 2D shooter for the Sega CD, but if you have a choice, track down the superior Turbo Duo version instead. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Shinforce
Sega CD Universe