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Rolling Thunder 2 Game Review: Classic Arcade Action at Its Finest


Rolling Thunder 2 is a “run and shoot” arcade game developed and released by Namco for Namco System 2 hardware in 1990. The game is a sequel to 1986’s Rolling Thunder, retaining the same gameplay of its predecessor, but adding two-player cooperative gameplay and improved graphics.

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Rolling Thunder 2 Game Review

Unlike the original, which was based in 1968, Rolling Thunder 2 features a more modern setting combined with a more futuristic design, as well as an additional playable character. A port for the Sega Genesis was also released that year.

Rolling Thunder 2, the long-awaited sequel to the widely popular Rolling Thunder, is a side-scrolling shooter that takes players on an adrenaline-pumping journey filled with tense battles, a gripping story and memorable characters.

Let’s dive into the fascinating world of Rolling Thunder 2 and find out what makes it a timeless classic.


The action takes place in the 1990s, when the Geldra organization, thought to have been destroyed during the first game, returns and destroys several world satellites in outer space. As in the original Rolling Thunder, players must take control of a member of the WCPO Rolling Thunder task force.


Two players can now play simultaneously: player 1 is female agent Leila, and player 2 is male agent Albatross. Although they have different looks, including different guns, the two characters have the same abilities (much like Yuichiro Tomari and Sunday Chin from Namco’s own Ordyne, released two years earlier and also a Namco System 2 game).

As in the original game, both Leila and Albatross can only take two physical hits from enemies – and being hit by a bullet or other projectile such as a laser will result in immediate death. Both are armed with a standard pistol with limited ammunition; when they run out of bullets, their guns instead fire a slow “stalker” bullet.

Players can also upgrade to a submachine gun by entering the marked doors

Players can also upgrade to a submachine gun by entering the marked doors – and as they enter one of these marked doors, a meter appears showing the number of remaining bullets to be picked up, allowing one player to leave ammunition for the other.

ammunition for pistols and machine guns is not carried over at the end of each level

Unlike the original Rolling Thunder, ammunition for pistols and machine guns is not carried over at the end of each level, and players always start a new level with only a minimum amount of pistol ammunition.

Graphics and Sound: A Visual and Auditory Feast

One of the standout features of Rolling Thunder 2 is its stunning graphics. The arcade machine’s hardware allowed for vibrant and detailed visuals, which were praised for their realism and attention to detail.

One of the standout features of Rolling Thunder 2 is its stunning graphics

The arcade machine's hardware allowed for vibrant and detailed visuals

From the atmospheric environments to the character designs, every element has been crafted with care. Complementing the captivating visuals is the game’s memorable soundtrack, featuring catchy tunes that perfectly fit the fast-paced action.

The graphics are markedly improved over the previous game and have a decidedly more futuristic look to match the modern setting of the game –  the game’s main enemy characters, the Muskers, who were previously designed to look like hooded terrorists (or Marines from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game), are now cyborgs.


Likewise, the game has a more varied stage design, with the first four stages taking place at a seaside resort in Florida and the last four at a pyramid in Egypt; both locations are actually camouflaged Geldra bases.

Multiplayer Mode: Double Trouble

Take the excitement up a notch by teaming up with a friend in Rolling Thunder 2's cooperative multiplayer mode

Take the excitement up a notch by teaming up with a friend in Rolling Thunder 2’s cooperative multiplayer mode. As Leila joins the fight alongside Albatross, both players can strategize and support each other through the challenging levels.

This addition enhances the game’s replayability and guarantees endless hours of fun.

Legacy: A Timeless Classic

Even after decades since its release, Rolling Thunder 2 remains a beloved title that continues to captivate players worldwide. Its combination of engaging gameplay, gripping storyline, and impressive visuals has earned it a well-deserved place among the arcade gaming greats.

Its influence can be seen in subsequent games and even in contemporary side-scrolling shooters, solidifying its status as a true timeless classic.

The home version of Rolling Thunder 2 has been well received. Its most positive scores include:

  • 92% from Computer & Video Games
  • 23/25 from GamePro
  • 85% from Mean Machines
  • 90% from MegaTech and, in retrospect
  • 8/10 from Sega-16

Reviews of the Virtual Console release were often more critical, including a score of 6/10 from GameSpot, 6.5 out of 10 from IGN and 8/10 from Nintendo Life.

Retro Game Review: Rolling Thunder 2 (Sega Genesis)

Tips and secrets of the game

1. The hero can act on two “floors”. To climb up, press the joystick up and the “C” button at the same time. Practice, this trick will be repeated often in the game.

2. You can move forward, backward (even if you have gone far ahead on the level), jump over obstacles or flying bullets.

3. You can shoot at any target. But pay attention! Do not waste ammunition by the way and not by the way – their stock is limited (the counter at the bottom of the screen).

4. You can find the doors behind which flamethrowers and laser guns are hidden.

5. Throughout the game you will meet some enticing doors. Be careful: Behind most of them there are terrorists who want to kill you. Ammunition depots behind doors labeled BULLET. And behind some signs – BONUS – prize time, but it’s intuition that should help you find such doors.

6. Behind some doors (ARMS) hidden machine guns, much more effective than pistols. You can admire Leila with a machine gun at the moment of attack.

7. Sometimes there are so many enemies that the gang seems like an entire army. You have to be very fast and accurate to deal with them.

8. The enemy has occupied the grenade depot and is attacking all the time. It is impossible to bypass him. Figure out how to deal with him.

9. The terrorists are armed with trained panthers! You escape the grenade launcher by jumping to the first floor. That’s where the panthers got you.

10. There are especially a lot of enemies in the air ducts. Luckily, Leila the machine-gunner is waiting for them! But be careful – you’re already close to the target.

11. At the end of levels you encounter bosses that are much more brutal than the others.

12. A truck whizzes by you at full speed. Be careful, especially since there are enemies lurking in the trailer.

13. To defeat the grenade launcher, you must go upstairs, already from there to shoot him. Boss stage can be defeated if you have a weapon more powerful than a gun. For example, a flamethrower.

14. When you play together, Miss Leila comes to your aid. In such a society it is easier and more pleasant to win.

Conclusion: Embrace the Arcade Nostalgia

Rolling Thunder 2 is a game that will transport you back to the golden era of arcade gaming. Its addictive gameplay, combined with its captivating story and memorable characters, ensures an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer to the world of classic gaming, Rolling Thunder 2 is a must-play title that should not be missed.

So grab your joystick or gamepad, immerse yourself in the action, and get ready to be blown away by the adrenaline-fueled adventure that awaits!

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