Thunder Force IV

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Thunder Force IV / Lightening Force
Thunder Force IV
European Mega Drive box art
Developer(s) Technosoft
Composer(s) Toshiharu Yamanishi
Takeshi Yoshida
Naosuke Arai
Series Thunder Force
Platform(s) Sega Genesis
Release date(s)
  • JP July 24, 1992
  • NA September 1992
  • EU December 1992
Genre(s) Shoot 'em up
Mode(s) Single-player

Thunder Force IV, known in North America as Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar, is a 1992 side-scrolling shoot 'em up video game developed and published by Technosoft for the Sega Genesis as the fourth installment of the Thunder Force series. The game was released in Japan on July 24, 1992, in North America in September 1992, and in Europe in December 1992.


Gameplay screenshot

Taking place directly after Thunder Force III, the ORN Empire is thought to be defeated by the Galaxy Federation, but still suffers from increasingly frequent attacks from hostile forces. The forces are discovered to be the "Vios", an army made up of allies and residual forces of ORN. The Galaxy Federation discovers the location of their headquarters on the planet Aceria and attacks, but since the power of Vios has grown greater than the previous ORN Empire, the Galaxy Federation forces are initially defeated. Once again, they develop a new small yet powerful fighter spacecraft, the FIRE LEO-04 Rynex to eliminate Vios. The player controls Rynex and travels through ten stages while battling Vios forces.


Thunder Force IV was the very first game with a sophisticated regional lockout program. Unlike previous Mega Drive games, the player could not play the Japanese version on a European Mega Drive or Sega Genesis (and vice versa) with a simple pass through adapter. However, cheat devices such as the Game Genie or Action Replay would enable the player to do so, as did later adapters such as the Mega Key.[citation needed]

Thunder Force IV also has the distinction of being one of the only European Mega Drive games to have been properly adjusted for the screen refresh rate of European PAL televisions. The game ran at the correct speed unlike most games which ran 16.7% slower than their NTSC counterparts due to the lack of any adjustments by Sega of Europe or other European software distributors which would have been required to address the differences between the different TV systems. The game's resolution however was not adjusted to meet the higher resolution of the European TVs, which resulted in black bars on top and bottom of the screen, like with most other Sega Mega Drive games.[citation needed]

The soundtrack of the game includes atmospheric synthesized scores, while hard-rock with backing synths take a role in the boss sections of the game. It is especially notable as being varied and intense, greatly enhancing certain moments of gameplay, such as the spectacular battle with huge mechanical boss above the Strite Sea, or the entrance of the player's nemesis, an enormous and seemingly indestructible robot. Completing the game unlocks ten bonus (omake) tracks in the BGM player in the options.[citation needed]


Review scores
Publication Score
MegaTech 94%[1]
Mega Drive Advanced Gaming 94%[2]
Mega 81%[3]
Publication Award
MegaTech Hyper Game

MegaTech magazine praised the video effects, but noted that "the basic gameplay is nothing original".[3] Similarly, Mean Machines criticised the title's lack of originality whilst acknowledging that it was graphically accomplished.[4] Retro Gamer included Thunder Force IV among top ten Mega Drive games, praising its " amazing visuals, over-the-top weaponry and a stunning soundtrack that perfectly complemented the frenetic on-screen action."[5]


  1. ^ MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 9.
  2. ^ "Out-of-Print Archive • Mega Drive reviews • Thunderforce IV". Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  3. ^ a b Mega review, issue 1, page 48, October 1992.
  4. ^ "Thunderforce 4 - Sega Megadrive - Mean Machines review". Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  5. ^ "Top Ten Mega Drive Games". 2014-01-07. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 

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