At their peak, Ratalaika Games were releasing several games for the PS Vita every month. Thanks to their in-house tools, they were able to port indie PC games to the Vita incredibly quickly as long as tthey were developed using a select number of game development packages. Thunder Paw was one such game and landed on the Vita near the end of the console’s commercial lifespan…
Thunder Paw – The Plot
Taking on the title role of a young pup named Thunder, he returns home from playing outside after hearing an explosion nearby. His home wrecked, he find it deserted with nothing more than a note inside to say that his parents had been taken. It’s up to you – weapon in hand… errr… paw – to save them.
What ensues is a side-scrolling run-and-gun inspired platform game spread over 20 levels. Split over five themed areas you you have to reach the exit at the end of each stage and on to the next, defeating bosses at the end of each area.
Seen It All Before
While Ratalaika’s system of porting games allowed a huge number of titles to land on the Vita and other platforms, it did have a downside. Because of the origin of many of their games, many do look and feel similar to each other. It’s only the level design and tweaks to the gameplay mechanics that allows the individual titles to stand out from each other.
Fortunately, Ratalaika sensibly paced out their releases so we often saw platform games followed by visual novels, then RPGs and so on. So we never saw several of the same genre grouped together. But when you look at their catalogue as a whole, patterns do quickly appear. Don’t get me wrong, I love most of their releases and still think they represent fantastic value for money, but sometimes it’s easy to forget just what game you’re playing.
A Gameplay Twist
While the gameplay in Thunder Paw may seem fairly routine and nothing particularly new, it does shake things up a little on the traditional run-and-gun format. Instead of re-spawning after you kill them, there are only a fixed number of enemies on each level and you have to kill all of them to unlock the exit so you can move on to the next. It’s not a straightforward left-to-right side scrolling game though so this is where the platform element comes in.
As well as making your way around the landscape, avoiding hazards, and taking advantage of moving platforms to reach otherwise inaccessible parts of the game world, there are also secrets to be found on every level adding an extra gameplay element on top of the basic platform action.
As you’d expect from most Ratalaika titles, Thunder Paw has a retro hybrid 8-bit/16-bit look in terms of its visuals. Sound is just the same, so if you’re like me and have a fondness for retro gaming then this will be right up your street. This style won’t appeal to everyone though and many won’t appreciate it’s more simplistic visual style.
Personally I love hand drawn 2D artwork over 3D rendered when it comes to platform games or shoot-em-ups, but that’s probably down to growing up in the 8-bit era more than anything else. It’s very much a personal taste thing though.
This is a fun game and is better than I expected it to be from the screenshots. Instead of a tired predictable platformer, Thunder Paw manages to keep it entertaining swapping out the traditional “collect everything and head to the exit” with a novel twist on the format. As with most of their releases, it’s at a low enough price to make it worth taking a chance on. Adding Cross Buy with the PS4 into the mix as well as makes this a tough one to turn down.
At A Glance
- Title: Thunder Paw
- Publisher: Ratalaika Games
- System: PS Vita
- Format: Download
- Cross Buy: Yes (PS4)
- Cross Save: N/A
- Cross Play: N/A
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: TBC
- PlayStation TV Compatible: TBC