Long ago in days of yore, I was given as a birthday gift my first computer — a DOS-based Tandy 1000 EX from Radio Shack, with 256kb of RAM and a blazing 8088 processor. It was one of the first computers to support EGA, though it used the proprietary Tandy graphics adapter protocol. And it was my introduction to the world of gaming. In short order, I owned every Sierra adventure game that came out and could run on 256kb of RAM: Kings Quest 1, 2 and 3, Space Quest 1 and 2, Gold Rush, Mixed Up Mother Goose (yes, seriously), and Thexder.
I played Thexder most of all. It was the brutally punishing sixteen-level shooter game I kept going back to after my adventure games ceased to provide any amusement. One life, shooting drained your energy meter, and the only way to regain energy was to kill enemies that are busy trying to kill you. Plus, you’re a big clunky robot with automatic laser targeting, that can turn into a nimble plane form that can only fire straight. Even though it was unforgiving and difficult to control, I still loved it. This is pretty much the original gaming experience.
Don’t you love the tinny three-channel beeper speaker soundtrack? I know I did. So when I was browsing the Playstation Store for demos, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a remake called Thexder Neo.
Sadly, the reworked game only has ten levels — nine from the original game, and an all-new boss battle. The punishing difficulty and the original layout of the nine ported levels are intact, though there’s an easy mode that lets you continue if you die and doesn’t sic infinitely spawned enemies on you if you’re taking too long. But most importantly, for purists like me who enjoyed the original despite the graphics and sound, you can play “classic mode” and see the game as it was originally meant to be played. I’m pretty sure the ported version isn’t the one from DOS, judging by the speed and the semitone lines — more likely the Amiga.
Yeah, I totally bought it. Nostalgia gaming rules.