Thunder Force VI is a horizontal shooter video game released for the PS2 on October 30, 2008. It is the sequel to Thunder Force V and continues the plot from the end of the game. Thunder Force VI was licensed by Twenty-One Company's Technosoft division. The game is seen by several as a nostalgia trip in that some of the enemies are similar to previous games and also remixed music with some tones from previous game's music. Even in the intro, short scenes of the previous games can be seen in the background.
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It is the year A.D. 2161, ten years after the artificial intelligence known as Guardian went rogue and its subsequent destruction at the hands of Cenes Crawford, the squadron leader of the Earth special unit Thunder Force 222. As Earth reenters an age of prosperity after the previous war with Guardian, an extraterrestrial force known only as "ORN Faust" appears and starts to invade the planet. Unfortunately, the Unified Earth Fleet is powerless under the might of the alien forces and is almost destroyed. Meanwhile, the Unified Earth government receives strange readings from its analysis report of the underground chamber on the island Babel, where Guardian was once installed. Inside, the remaining Vasteel technology which was abandoned and sealed by the government shows a startling synchronization with ORN Faust's approach.
As researchers analyze the once forbidden technology they had abandoned ten years ago, they find an alarming message embedded within the fragments. It is said that the recovered fighter craft dubbed Vasteel was once called Rynex, the ultimate weapon created by the extraterrestrial power called the Galaxy Federation, used to combat the evil ORN Empire. The message also contained a warning of their impending arrival and an interstellar call for help against the ORN forces, which is trying to spread its influence of death and destruction to other parts of the universe. In addition, the storage cells within Vasteel material contains four space coordinates leading to the homeworld of the Galaxy Federation. Left with no other choice, scientists recreate the Vasteel technology into the experimental starfighter known as Phoenix, the last hope for the human race against ORN Faust.
Sega has created a 3D scrolling system for the next-gen Thunder Force VI, where the gameplay proceeds in 2D as before in previous games but scenery moves in three dimensions. This was partially implemented in Thunder Force V where there are cutscenes where the fighter is on a semi-3D plane. During some scenes, the fighter executes rolls, turns, and dives in the background and is only there for fancy visual cues. There are three fighter types available in the game, however only the Phoenix is usable at the start. The other fighters are unlocked by subsequent playthroughs. Each of the fighters can use five types of weapon arms and an Over Weapon for each which is a carryover from Thunder Force V, however the system is different.
After beating the game, additional modes are available, one of them being Neo-Style. In this mode, death will result in the loss of the current weapon (Twin Shot and Back Shot being the exception) and power-ups are available. In addition, enemy patterns and attacks are differnt in some places, adding some uniqueness. This style is meant to mimic the gameplay of the previous games.
The player has a total of three ships (two must be unlocked) to select before starting the main game. Each ship has its own unique attributes that makes the best use in combat situations.
- RVR-00 Phoenix - This is the first ship available.
- Fire Leo-04C Rynex-R - This ship is unlocked by playing through Normal gameplay and above once.
- Syrinx - First seen and used at the beginning of the 6th and final stage in the game, Syrinx is unlocked by playing through Normal gameplay and above by using Rynex-R.
Each fighter can use five weapons for combat with 4 of the weapons (Twin Shot, Back Shot, Hunter, Free-Range) common between them. However, the fighters implement some of these weapons in different ways, for example the Phoneix's and Syrinx's Wave weapons are drastically different.
The Phoenix and the Syrinx will not lose any of their weapons when the player loses a life. The Rynex-R however, will lose the weapon that it is currently using when the player loses a life, except for its default weapons, Twin Shot and Back Shot (just as in previous games).
Shield: The ship uses the CRAW support units to create a shield. Technically not a weapon type, the shield deflects some enemy projectiles, though not all. The reliability of the shield depends on the weapons being currently used. If the CRAW support units are being utilized by a weapon needed to power it, eg. Back Shot, the shield is inactive during this period.
The Over Weapon is a special attack all player ships use, first utilized in Thunder Force V, which boosts the equipped weapon's attack strength drastically. The system for using it is different compared to Thunder Force V. The Over Weapons are not based on your CRAWs, instead there is a gauge that fills up as the fighter destroys targets. Bigger targets will yield in more energy. Each bar on the meter indicates one Over Weapon use. The entire Over Weapon gauge can be filled and used up to six times. Players can increase the offensive strength of the Over Weapon by using several bars in quick succession. There is a price for using an Over Weapon though, that being speed is reduced to 25%, making maneuverability a major issue.
The following are the stages in Thunder Force VI. The first three can be done in any order while the last three are static. The boss descriptions are similar in style to Radiant Silvergun, that gave three indiscrete hints or insights into the boss.
A now abandoned colony belonging to the Galaxy Federation, it was previously destroyed by invading ORN Faust forces. In a short period of time, the colony is now covered with wild plant life that has undergone genetic mutation. The player has received information that a newly built destroyer from ORN, Cerberus II, is prowling in the area.
- Boss: Gargoyle Perfect
- Annihilation arms of the ORN empire.
- The super flame from the mouth.
- The hyper bolide from the abdomen.
- The gargoyle rushes and crushes.
Gargoyle Perfect is a hybrid recreation of Gargoyle from Thunder Force III and Gargoyle Diver from Thunder Force IV. The first form is Gargoyle Diver that appears in a similar fashion to it's entrance in Thunder Force IV. After being destroyed, the head connects to a body that is Gargoyle and it's attacks are similar.
A planet where most of the surface is covered with seas of lava. Here, ORN Faust uses the place as a testing ground for developing experimental high energy life-forms. There lies many abnormal and indigenous life thriving on the volatile and hot surface.
- Boss: Flame Maiden
- Biological arms of the ORN empire.
- The rapid biometeorite from mouth.
- The thorns from back.
- The maiden hopping crush.
Flame Maiden is a recreation of Iron Maiden from Thunder Force V, difference being it's red and has different attacks.
A beautiful planet mostly covered by many oceans. Below the clouds and in the darkness of the deep sea, the dangerous presence of ORN Faust lurks.
- Boss: Cherub Purple
- Camouflage arms of the ORN empire.
- The cherubim purple air mines.
- The cherubim purple shower of bullets.
- The cherubim purple beam.
Cherub Purple is a six-armed creature that shoots many streams of destroyable bullets in all directions and also shoots a giant beam. It barely looks like Deep Purple from Thunder Force V.
The original homeworld and capital of the Galaxy Federation, where the space coordinates and aid request found embedded within Vasteel technology leads to. ORN Faust's presence on the planet is most pressing and concentrated, both Unified Earth Fleet and Galaxy Federation forces make their decisive battle here. The allied forces will attack the enemy's fleet in orbit before engaging combat on the planet's surface.
- Boss: B3 (Barbaric-Berserk-Beast)
- Death proof arms of the ORN empire.
- The Death proof mega tank mode.
- The Death proof giga sky mode.
- The Death proof tera huge beam.
B3 is a mimic of A3 (Armament-Armed-Arm) from Thunder Force V and looks like the guardian mini-boss from the intro of Thunder Force IV. It has three attack forms: a tank, a flying ship, and a mech. After being defeated, it shoots a giant laser in a similar fashion to Guardian's Knight.
With the help of fighters from the Galaxy Federation, the Unified Earth Fleet's Thunder Force team will pursue and destroy a huge ORN battleship, Cerberus. After completing the objective, the player ship will engage in single combat with the ORN Empire's own version of Vasteel...
- Boss: Vasteel Nocht
- Extra mimicry arms of the ORN empire.
- The mimicry orn-faust Styx.
- The mimicry orn-faust Rynex.
- The mimicry orn-faust Gauntlet.
Vasteel Nocht starts out with a short battle with ORN Faust. After destroying it, Faust's core links itself to a giant armor mimic of Styx, progressively going into bigger versions of Rynax and Gauntlet. Each of these armors have weapons similar to the fighter they represent, albeit larger. The Styx Mimic uses Twin Shot, Fire, and Wave. The Rynax Mimic uses Blade, Free-Way (TFIV), and Rail Gun. The Gauntlet Mimic uses the Twin Shot Over Weapon and Free-Way (TFV). This style is like Vasteel Original's armor swapping.
The Thunder Force team and Galaxy Federation forces have discovered the fortress of the ORN Empire. The main objective is to defeat the ORN Emperor that resides in the deepest portion of the base.
- Boss: ORN Emperor
- Final bio arms of the orn empire.
- The mysterious boss with compound eye.
- The mysterious crazy death beams.
- The mysterious crazy death rush.
The ORN Emperor is essentially a giant deformed fetus-like creature. It starts out in an organic sack that is quickly destroyed. Afterwards, it begins to attack shooting energy rings from its three eyes. After destroying its body, the head grows and begins to attack, shooting many shots in all directions.
Thunder Force VI was originally started shortly before Technosoft went out of business around 2000-2001. Not much was known about the game save for an intro video that was leaked showcasing an early version of the Syrinx battling what appears to be a Styx mimic in armor, the date of the video is 10/16/2000. The game was slated to be released on the Dreamcast, however it was not known how far into production Thunder Force VI was.
On January 2008, a surprise update appeared on Technosoft's website, stating the title of Thunder Force as a registered trademark, and to let visitors know that the site is being renovated. In addition, the site also mentioned that the series was going to be continued, although details were lacking.
One of the original key staff behind the previous Thunder Force games, K Matsuoka, held onto the IPs of the games after Tecnosoft was bought up by pachinko maker Twenty-Cne Company. With the announcement of Thunder Force VI in July, it was revealed that Tecnosoft had licensed the new sequel to Sega to develop and publish the game. The company in turn assigned Tetsu Okano, otherwise known by his pen name Zolge Ichizo, to direct Thunder Force VI.
Development apparently began on April 2007, with Okano bringing in a fresh team with lots of previous shmup experience to handle the project. The team then brought in Tamayo Kawamoto (RayForce), Go Sato (Raiden Series) and Motoaki Furukawa (Gradius II, Salamander, Gunstar Heroes) to compose the game’s soundtrack. As seen in the two trailers, the development team created a unique feel for the game, by using the tangut script, an ancient and now obsolete Chinese logographic system, for themes relating to the Galaxy Federation, with Mongolian terms used as language for the ORN Empire.
In an interview, Okano has stated that he would like to hopefully release a sequel to an as yet unknown game, if Thunder Force VI sales go well. In Okano’s blog, he has confirmed that Thunder Force VI is the first game that he placed under the “STG Project”, with two other projects under wraps, which depends entirely on the Thunder Force VI’s success. On the official Thunder Force VI website, the words “PROJECT S.T.G-001” can be found on the bottom right of the front page, indicating that Sega may be planning a revival of three shooting game franchises, with Thunder Force VI leading the charge.