Can’t you take a Yoke?
Still on its Namco kick, the retro fun factory that is Hamster Corporation is offering up something a little special for this week’s release, as the under-the-radar but surprisingly groundbreaking Thunder Ceptor is available to download right now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
Originally released to the arcade market in the summer of 1986, Thunder Ceptor is an into-the-screen rail shooter with shmup elements and a hyper-futuristic aesthetic. Developed and released by Namco as something as an answer to smash hit Space Harrier, the game features the fast-paced, into-the-screen shmup action as the Sega classic, complete with dazzling colors and incredibly fast-paced galactic gameplay. Check out the action in the video below, courtesy of YouTuber SidRetron.
At the time, Thunder Ceptor was by far Namco’s most technically advanced and resource-heavy release yet, and is also the first-ever video game to feature a 360-degree yoke controller. Like Space Harrier, Namco’s offering also boasted an impressive sit-in arcade cabinet. Not content with this all this extravagance, Namco would offer up revamp-cum-sequel 3D Thunder Ceptor II later that same year, which added stereoscopic 3D visuals to allow for further immersion and/or headaches.
Surprisingly, however, Thunder Ceptor has not seen the same level of celebration as many of Namco’s other releases, having been frequently left off of multiple retro compilations, leaving the 3D shmup to fall between the cracks of the company’s long-term history. While not as slick or as polished as its inspiration, the pretender still brought a few cool tricks to the arcade dance hall, and its resurrection through the Arcade Archives range has been a long time coming.