Thunder Kid II: Null Mission - Nintendo Switch

When it comes to video-game sequels, sometimes simplicity is the best route. You don’t always need a follow-up to drastically change things. More of the same can be a good thing — if it’s done right, that is. And Thunder Kid II: Null Mission does exactly that.

If you enjoyed Thunder Kid: Hunt for the Robot Emperor, it’s safe to say you’ll also like this sequel. It doesn’t reinvent the formula — this is still a fixed-camera 3D shoot-‘em-up — but it gives you more levels, new bosses, and better stage designs. Where the first Thunder Kid was like a fun game you’d play at the arcades in the ‘90s, Thunder Kid II almost feels like a sequel that would’ve gone straight to the Nintendo 64 or PlayStation. It’s weird and scrappy like that.

Thunder Kid II: Null Mission features twenty stages and eight boss battles. You could totally beat the game in about two hours or less, but the cool thing is that it doesn’t waste your time. Every level is pretty solid and a blast to play through. Where the first game featured a few levels that were less than stellar, every level here is good.

Thunder Kid II - Nintendo Switch

Enemies are tough, firing a barrage of bullets your way and forcing you to constantly move while both shooting and doing some tricky platforming. Each level also has a collectible coin that usually requires you to take a more challenging route. In the previous game, there were areas where you could cheat your way to victory by simply hugging the walls and running past enemies. While there are a few areas here where you can perform similar exploitative maneuvers, they’re less frequent, which means you’ll have to try a tad harder this time around.

While I previously thought Breakneck City was the superior title from developer Renegade Sector Games, Thunder Kid II: Null Mission manages to top it. The action is much more fluid, and the level designs are tighter.

The audiovisual presentation in Thunder Kid II remains largely similar to that of its predecessors. The 3D graphics are both polygonal and pixelated, but there’s an oddball retro charm to the whole thing. The music is also quirky, and it works well within the confines of this silly little game.

Thunder Kid II Gameplay

Speaking of the game’s style, when we talk about retro games or retro-styled games, there’s a lot that goes into that terminology. Usually, “retro” refers to a game’s art style or sound design. You also have to take into account game design, as titles like the recently released Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge offer up retro-styled action gameplay.

But then there’s the overall vibe a game gives you. Thunder Kid II feels like one of those offbeat things that would’ve been released early on in the lifespan of the N64 — like a Buck Bumble, Glover, or WinBack (which is available through the Nintendo Switch Online service). Thunder Kid II probably wouldn’t have received many gaming magazine awards had it been released in, say, 1996 or 1997, but it has this cult hit vibe to it, like it would’ve had a niche audience that absolutely loved it.

I really hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this series, because Thunder Kid II: Null Mission left me wanting more. Perhaps that’s because it’s a bit on the short side, or maybe it’s because what’s there is just so darn enjoyable — though admittedly, it’s probably both of those things. Either way, more Thunder Kid please! Hell, let’s just get more of these Renegade Sector titles on Switch posthaste!

Disclaimer: I was given a review code for Thunder Kid II: Null Mission on Nintendo Switch, but the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

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