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Thunderforce V
PublisherTecno Soft Disc(s)1
DeveloperTecno Soft RAM CartNo
Players1 OriginJapan

Editors Note: There is a special edition which also includes a 'Best of TF' music disc.

by S. Ives (


    Finally! A Thunder Force game for the Saturn. While it keeps the TF gameplay, the graphics have gotten a major overhaul. It lives up to the TF name, even if there are a few minor issues.
The backgrounds contain both 2-D and 3-D elements now. Most of the enemies are real-time rendered (polygon) 3-D models. This results in better animation, especially on bosses. The game play is TF to the core.

As in Thunder Force 4, you get to pick the order in which you play the stages of the first part of the game. Three stages will be listed for you at this screen. Once the order select is done, you're zipping along through the stage that you selected first. You have the twin-shot and back-shot that have been in the previous games. You can now carry three "Craw" objects on your ship instead of two. Craws will fire extra shots with the currently selected weapon. There's now an added Overdrive button that will rev up the power of the shot (and the blasts will have a different look to them). Heavy use of the overdrive button will shrink the Craws though, and you'll have to give them time to enlarge again. If a Craw is weak enough, an enemy shot can destroy it.

Some enemies will give multipliers on their point value if killed quickly (try up to 16x their value). They're bigger ones that take a lot of hits to kill. Overdrive fire will usually snag good points off them.

When it's time to attack a boss, there will be an information screen about it. Your ship's computer will call out the name of the boss and then the code name (e.g. "Iron Maiden. Codename: She was dead & alive at the same time").

By the way, here are weapons you'll find (small ships enter the screen to deliver them - shoot them to get them to release the weapon):

  • Craw: Adds to firepower & can absorb enemy bullets.
  • Wave: The shot power is weaker than heck, but it is good for zapping away hordes of one-hit quitters. Using Overdrive will widen the range of the wave.
  • Free-Range: This one rules. Select it and you've got the targeting cone on screen. Move in one direction and the targeting cone will move itself until it aims in the opposite direction or you stop moving. Hold down fire to lock the cone in place. Normally it fires a green laser blast, but the Overdrive will turn it into a wickedly powerful blue thunder beam that kicks major tail on level 3.
  • Hunter: I'm sure you know all about this one- but with the Overdrive on, it will home in MUCH FASTER on its targets.

Also, the twin-shot and back-shot can be Overdriven. The game is surely Thunder Force play-wise, right down to the way the ship controls. There are a couple issues with the game though (you'll see them below in the Gameplay & Control section).

Better than TF3? Ohhhh yeah. While graphically better than TF4 by a long shot, the game play takes a slight step down.

Category Comments
Graphics: 9
  • + Most of the enemies are in polygon graphics, with some pre-rendered sprites.
  • + It's got some nice cut scenes, especially when it introduces the level's boss.
  • + The real-time rendered bosses are good, with great animation.
  • - Zooms sometimes produce pixelation.
  • + "Guardian Knight" is one of the game's best bosses.
  • + Contains many cool effects, such as line-scrolling floors, a transparent mist in the early part of stage 4, boss weapons, the trippy effects in stage 6, etc.
  • - The Craw looks like just a colored orb now, rather than the metallic object it was in other TF's.
  • - Some of the transparencies (Wave weapon) are dotty.
Sound/Music: 10
  • + It's mostly techno-type tracks, done very well. The composition is as good as TF4's, but the tunes now have a better than arcade-quality sound. Boss tunes have a slight heavy metal edge.
  • + One boss tune is a remixed version of the TF4 intro, this isn't a bad thing though since this track smokes.
  • + Explosions are great.
  • + Clear voices announce when you gain a CRAW or other weapon.
Gameplay/Control: 8
  • + The ship handling is as good as the other TF games, maybe even a little better.
  • + Some of the larger enemies are worth more if killed quickly (up to 16x their value). Damaging certain parts of bosses rapidly also does this.
  • + Plenty of configuration options for the buttons- you can have one weapon select key as in TF3 & TF4, you can have "Select Left" & "Select Right", or you can even use a direct mode that lets you instantly use the desired weapon.
  • + Use the added over-drive button to put more sting in your weapons. The OD Free-Range is particularly useful.
  • + No major problems with slowdown.
  • - Gone is the shifting screen of TF4 (TF4 lets you go up into the clouds in its ocean stage "Strite", or down by the water. The screen pans to follow you as you do so. Not so in TF5.)
  • - Other than in stages 2 & 4, there aren't many stationary obstacles for you to maneuver around. In TF4, stages 2,6,7,8, & 9 have a lot of stationary things that you could smack into if you're not careful.
  • - Seven stages is a bit short- it's three less than the 10 provided by TF4.
  • - No "Maniac" level is selectable up front. Maybe beating Hard will get it?
Lasting Power: 9
  • + High scores are saved to backup RAM for each difficulty level Kids, Normal, & Hard) so you can try to beat them.
  • + Work on damaging/killing bosses faster for higher scores.
  • + The limit of 3 continues helps make it last.
  • + There are bad & good endings.
  • + Even if there are only 7 stages, the game takes a decent time to complete.
Overall: 9

A very good Thunder Force game, as expected. It unfortunately neglects to carry over a few of the best aspects of TF4 (such as the shifting of the screen). What could be better? Perhaps a TF6 with at least 9 stages....
-S. Ives

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