Developer Aspect has their heart in the right place with Thundercats, creating a remarkably authentic 16-bit beat-em-up platformer for the currently in distress Cartoon Network reboot.
Players control Lion-o, a broadsword swinging humanoid cat out to stop evil, because that's what heroes do.
The story is told through static cut scenes and text, the entirety of the cart's memory taken up by a wailing, “Thundercats, Ho!” every time Lion-O does, well, something. It's shouted when using a laser beam ejected from his sword. It's utilized when he calls upon four assistants (three for attacks, one for health/power-ups). He screams when the stage is introduced. He'll even let one out on the continue screen, only to repurpose the phrase when the level begins anew seconds later.
Even a die-hard fan will want nothing to do with the Thundercats' calling card after this.
Simplicity is fine when balanced, something Aspect either didn't understand or didn't have time for under the guise of publisher Warner Bros. Lion-O's core roster of attacks is a slicing combo string that leaves him open to offensive strikes on the final blow, a leaping slash that takes the action game equivalent of a year to complete. As powerful as it feels, complete with a satisfying metallic screech, the deaths it causes are unfair.
Lion-O has no defensive stances. A slide initially seems like a savior in this 2D plane until lizard enemies and their ilk begin launching projectiles. It turns out the slide is only for positioning; you cannot duck under fire from across the screen. Since enemies spawn on both sides, usually two to the left and two to the right, it's a barrage of gunfire that becomes almost unavoidable mid-combo.
The escape becomes a double jump, a move that elicits some feeling of pushing for that extra oomph as Lion-O stops in mid-air for the second half of the motion. In practice that would be fine until implemented in platforming zones with collapsing bricks or falling stones. Maneuvering is only slightly more refined than Arthur from Ghosts 'n Goblins. Arthur, if nothing else, felt spry with his distance. That's not the case for Thundercats.