Thunder Paw Review (Nintendo Switch)

Title: Thunder Paw
Genre: 2D, Action, Platformer
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, PS4, PS Vita and Xbox one)
Developer|Publisher: Sergiopoverony |Ratalaika Games
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price: UK £4.99 | EU € 4,99 | AU $7.99 | CA $6.29 | US $4.99
Release Date: 20th March 2020

Review code provided with many thanks to Ratalaika Games

Animals and Games

You know I do miss the old 16 bit era of gaming where we had a plethra of video games where an animal character was the star. Rolo the elephant, Sparkster the mouse, Psycho Fox. Any of these ringing a bell? Maybe that’s my age showing. When we hit the CD based systems, animal games just seemed to be over and boring old human games became the focus. Fast forward to the indie boom and devs once again remember the joys of games with animal protagonists. With that odd intro out the way lets talk about Thunder Paw.

The Dog Days

Thunder Paws’ plot is simple. Thunders playing outside with his ball when his parents are kidnapped and it’s up to Thunder to rescue them. So this cute little puppy looking sprite of course dons an army outfit, grabs a gun and gets to work. I thought far much into this plot than I should do. Is Thunder a puppy? How do you go from playing with a ball in the sunshine to a plot filled with gun slinging vengeance? As always these questions lingered as I played through the game along with creating my own fan fiction surrounding the baddies I was up against. These consisted of other animals like rats, bears, pigs you know the typical bad animals.

Insert Saturday morning cartoon villain

Smooth Retro Animations

The graphics are quite the delight. Retro inspired with some nice attention to detail, the sprite animation movement of Thunder and the enemies look really smooth. The level backgrounds also have a good level of detail. I liked how on your HUD it includes a little picture of Thunders face and his expression looking more and more tired as his health reduces. Gave me Doom flashbacks. The music is retro inspired and well suited to the graphical design.

Jump and Shoot

Thunder Paws is a 2D platformer. One of the jump and shoot variety and controls well. I was surprised the game takes recoil into account when shooting the guns, a rare sight in a 2D platformer. With every shot Thunder jolts back a few paces meaning that you really need to watch your footing sometimes especially with some of the platform segments. The game also has ‘!’ posted above drops that would lead to a instant death. A handy idea since you can’t control the camera. But sometimes these signs are false and a secret gun or enemy is hiding below.

A fall to the death or a secret hiding below

Hunt the Enemy

The goal of each level is to take down every enemy and then find the exit. An odd choice of design. Many times I found the exit before finding all the enemies leading to this ‘hunt for the missing enemy’ game. Since the camera is fixed it’s hard to scan the environment to see if enemies were on platforms below you. Often I had to take leaps of faith, only to land on a enemy and lose a health segment. It felt like it would have made more sense to simply let you finish the level and add the ‘kill all enemies objective’ as a bonus. On easy mode the game is peppered with checkpoints which will replenish your health and save your progress up to that point. Definitely handy during some of the later more difficult levels. Should you opt for hard mode these are removed and death will send you back to the start of the level.

Where is the last enemy?

Enemies mostly follow basic platform patterns. The only one that particularly surprised me was the rabbit ninja fella. Once he/she gets you in their sight they hop at you like crazy kamikaze rabbits until you do something about it. Definitely my enemy highlight. It was neat to see a variation of animals used as enemy characters.

Watch out for the rabbit

His Gun is Worse than His Bite

The game has two unlockable weapons which are found hidden within the levels. Each weapon is unique and is more suited to deal with certain situations. Your base weapon is your typical straight pea shooter like weapon which fires straight ahead. Another fires bouncing balls which bounce off walls and platforms making it easier to take on enemies on different levels to you. Its drawback being that it does less damage.

Finally there’s a sorta shot gun like weapon that can penetrate shields but only does damage at its point of impact. Every weapon can be upgraded by collecting gems from defeated enemies. But you need to watch out. Getting hit once will loose some gems and your upgrade. The upgrade bar is only partially drained so collecting more gems will soon refill it. If you die all upgrade bars for all your weapons are reset to zero. This was a particular pain with the boss fights.

Boss Time

Boss fights were quite the challenge. Three out of the five boss fights I had to repeat multiple times. Boss patterns were tough to learn and the pattern does change as you drain their health bar leading to unexpected moments. While a struggle, it was very satisfying overcoming the bosses. For some this may provide some moments of rage. If you’re lucky to have weapons upgraded before the fight this does make the experience much easier. However, a single hit and you’re back to relying on the default weapon power. This was the dilemma I often found myself in.

This foxy fella proved quite the challenge

Once you’re done the game is basically over. Clocking in for me around the 4-5 hour mark. But then I’m quite experienced at this type of game. You can replay old levels but the game lacks any secrets to hunt for or unlock. Unless you fancy a replay or risking Hard mode, there isn’t a lot of incentive to return.

The Dogs Verdict

Overall, Thunder Paw is a safe coffee game. It just doesn’t really take any particular risks to make it stand out. Suitable for a quick gaming session and priced accordingly. Everything Thunder Paw does is just fine. The developers have a great art style, soundtrack and general idea here. But it just needs something extra to make it stand out from the enormous crowd.

Final Verdict: I liked it

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