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Thexder cover.png
Cover for the DOS version
Designer(s) Hibiki Godai, Satoshi Uesaka
Composer(s) Hibiki Godai
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Run-and-gun shooter
Mode(s) Single player

Thexder (テグザー Teguzā?) is an arcade-style run-and-gun shooter action game from Game Arts, originally released as a PC game for the NEC PC-8001 in 1985 and subsequently ported to a number of other personal computer platforms throughout the 1980s and 1990s as well as the NES video game console. Thexder was an important breakthrough title for the run-and-gun shooter game genre, paving the way for titles such as Contra and Metal Slug.[1] The game went on to sell over one million copies worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling computer games of its time.[2]


In the game, the player is a fighter robot, but is able to transform into a jet. Originally released in 1985 for the NEC PC-8801 platform in Japan, the game quickly became a best-selling hit selling over 500,000 copies.[3] Later that same year, Game Arts licensed Thexder to Square in order to develop a conversion for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) game console. In 1987, Game Arts also developed a Thexder conversion for the MSX platform.

The NEC PC8801 platform was only popular in Japan and, despite home market success, Thexder garnered little attention abroad initially. With the conversion for the MSX (the best selling platform in Brazil and many east European countries) it became an international hit. The game was subsequently licensed to Sierra Entertainment for release in the United States. In 1987, Sierra ported the game to multiple platforms, including the IBM PC, 128k Tandy Color Computer 3, Apple II, Apple IIGS, Apple Macintosh, and Tandy T-1000 computer. Thexder continued its track record of success and became a best-seller for Sierra, becoming the company's best-selling title of 1987.[2] In 1988, Activision then released the game in Europe on the Commodore Amiga.[4] By 1990, the game had sold over one million copies worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling computer games up until that time.[2]

The two Game Arts developers responsible for creating Thexder were Hibiki Godai and Satoshi Uesaka. In 1986, they developed another action-arcade game called Silpheed and in 1989 they wrote a Thexder sequel named Fire Hawk: Thexder The Second Contact. As with the original, FireHawk sold extremely well in Japan and the United States. Today, Thexder is still remembered by many as a classic action-arcade game.


Compute! praised the Apple IIGS version of Thexder as the computer's "first true arcade game" with "excellent play value for your dollar".[5] In 1988, The Games Machine gave the Amiga version a 74% score.[4] In 1991, Dragon gave the Macintosh and PC/MS-DOS versions of the game each 4 out of 5 stars.[6]

Other games in the series[edit]

Title Details
Thexder 2

Original release dates:
  • JP 1989 (MSX/PC-8801, Game Arts release)

1990-12-30 (DOS)
2003-03-10 (PC-8801, D4E release)

  • UK 1990-12-30 (DOS)
  • NA 1990-12-30 (DOS)
Release years by system:

Thexder 2, also known as Fire Hawk: Thexder The Second Contact, was released in 1989 on MSX2 and 1990 on DOS. It retained the same concept as the original Thexder but added many improvements.

The Fire Hawk robot had the same design as the Thexder: the main laser, shield, and ability to transform into a jet. It also had upgrades to allow it to launch guided missiles, and use special weapons found throughout the game. Obtaining special weapons caused a weapon carrier droid to be deployed, and if positioned correctly, would act as a shield against enemies. Graphics were improved from the original game, and game play was divided into sub-levels, with the fourth sub-level containing a "boss" enemy. It was also possible to restart later games at the beginning of a level previously visited.

Thexder 95

Original release date(s):
Release years by system:
1995 – Windows 95

Thexder 95 (also called Thexder for Windows 95) is a Windows 95 remake of the original Thexder game, which was built with Microsoft's Game SDK (precursor of DirectX). In this game, Thexder can become a tank and jet, and has a large number of new weapons, from grenades to thermal bombs. The game runs in multiple windows: the main view, and several smaller windows each having a different function, e.g., ammo count, map, and actual game, that the gamer could open and close at will during play.

Computer Games Magazine rated it 2.5/5. It was also one of Sierra's showcase games at the launch of Windows 95.[citation needed]

Thexder & Fire Hawk

Original release date(s):
  • JP July 15, 2005
(PC-8801, D4E release)
Release years by system:
July 15, 2005 – PC-8801

Thexder & Fire Hawk is a compilation that includes the MSX versions of Thexder and Thexder 2. The compilation was designed by Hibiki Godai and Satoshi Uesaka, and was released in 2005 for the PC–8801.

Thexder Neo

Original release dates:
October 1, 2009 (PSP)[7]
January 28, 2010 (PS3)
Release years by system:
October 1, 2009 – PlayStation Portable (PSP)[7]
January 28, 2010 – PlayStation 3

Thexder Neo is a complete rework of the original PC game from 1985, released by Square Enix.[8]

In early 2009, it was reported that Square Enix sent an application to the ESRB to receive a rating for a game titled "Thexder Neo".[9] Later that year, the game's existence was confirmed by Square Enix through an announcement at the 2009 Tokyo Game Show.[10] It was released worldwide on the PlayStation Network on October 1, 2009 as a download for the PlayStation Portable and on January 28, 2010 for the PlayStation 3.[7]


  1. ^ Travis Fahs. "The Leif Ericson Awards – Retro Feature at IGN". Retrieved 2011-09-06. 
  2. ^ a b c "Back Cover", Fire Hawk: Thexder The Second Contact (Game Arts & Sierra On-Line), 1990, retrieved 2012-02-10 
  3. ^ Storer, Andy (July 1988). "Thexder". ST/Amiga Format (1): 55. Retrieved 14 January 2012. 
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Trunzo, James V. (March 1988). "Thexder". Compute!. p. 21. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia & Lesser, Kirk (December 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (176): 57–62. 
  7. ^ a b c "Thexder NEO: Information". Square Enix. Retrieved 16 October 2009. Thexder NEO for the PlayStation Portable: October 1, 2009 […] Available worldwide via the PlayStation Store 
  8. ^ "Square Enix Ltd. announces Thexder NEO available exclusively for download via PlayStation Network". Square Enix. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 16 October 2009. Now you can experience the excitement of the original, complete with revamped graphics, a novice mode, six-player online races, and a host of other all-new features in Thexder NEO. 
  9. ^ Square Enix revives "THEXDER", 80's robot action for PS3 and PSP
  10. ^ Sony TGS lineup includes unannounced games, newly announced games

External links[edit]

Thexder 2
Thexder 95