Evercade Game of the Month 2023 #2: Thunder Paw

Written by Pete Davison

Tags evercade exp, evercade vs, Game of the month, indie heroes, Thunder Paw

Happy May! It’s another new month, and that means another new Game of the Month release!

Game of the Month is a programme for Evercade VS and Evercade EXP owners where you can download a free game every month between April and December. You can enjoy the full version of each game without limits for a month, at which point it will be replaced with a brand new game. In February 2024, all of the Game of the Month titles from 2023 will be collected together for the Indie Heroes 3 cartridge, together with a few cartridge-exclusive games to sweeten the deal even further, and you’ll be able to add them to your Evercade library permanently!

The second game in the 2023 Game of the Month lineup is a challenging 16-bit platformer from the creative mind of independent developer Sergio PoveronyThunder Paw was first released onto modern platforms in 2019, but more recently it has been ported to a classic 16-bit system by PSCD Games, who we last saw on our first Indie Heroes compilation with great titles including FoxyLand, Debtor and Alien Cat 2.

In Thunder Paw, you take on the role of a brave puppy named Thunder. Distracted from his play session by the sound of a loud explosion, he rushes home, only to discover that his mother and father are nowhere to be found! The kidnapper had left behind a note, so Thunder decided to set off on a quest to save his parents from the unknown forces who had capture them.

The basics of Thunder Paw are simple. You control Thunder with the D-Pad and can make him jump with the A button. Fire his weapon with the X button and, once you have discovered some other weapons, switch your current armament with the B button.

Your aim in each level is to defeat all enemies. In the upper right of the screen, you’ll see a readout that displays how many enemies you have defeated, and how many there are in total. The level’s exit, usually at the furthest right extremity of the stage, will not open until all enemies are defeated.

In the top centre of the screen, there is a countdown of the number of bones available to collect in the stage. It is not necessary to collect all the bones in order to pass a level, but if you’re aiming to fully complete the game you’ll want to try and find them all! Between stages, your collected bones will be totalled up, and every time the total reaches 50 or more you’ll get an extra life.

Also hidden throughout the stages are green canisters with a “C” on them, one per stage. Collect four of these in total and you’ll get an extra continue for when all your lives run out. Yes, this is a properly old-school game where you can hit a hard Game Over if you don’t show your skills enough — though, of course, you can also make use of the Evercade save function to make your life a little bit easier.

Most enemies take more than one hit from Thunder’s weapons to defeat, so be sure to observe their attack patterns carefully. Some move back and forth in a regular pattern, dealing damage simply by coming into contact with Thunder, while others will stand still and fire projectiles. Look for a suitable opening and attack at that time — but don’t take too many risks! This isn’t a game about running in all guns blazing.

Defeat an enemy and they’ll explode into gems. Grab these and the weapon you’re holding will gradually become more powerful and increase its maximum range. But watch out, because taking damage also causes you to lose some of this weapon power. Also note that once you’ve found an additional weapon, each weapon has its own power level, so be sure to equip the one you want to power up rather than wasting gems.

As you work your way through the game, you’ll encounter new hazards that are gradually introduced. Watch out for pits with exclamation marks above them, as they are bottomless chasms that will cost you a life if you fall in. Be wary of platforms that rumble and shake as you stand on them, too, as they will likely collapse after a moment — inevitably into one of the aforementioned bottomless pits!

After several stages, you’ll reach the end of a world and have a boss to fight. Defeat them and you’ll move onto the next. Clear all the worlds and… will Thunder be joyfully reunited with his parents? You’ll have to play Thunder Paw and find out!

To get started with Thunder Paw and the Game of the Month programme for 2023, connect your Evercade VS or EXP to the Internet via the Network option in Settings, then perform a system update to the latest available firmware version. When you’re all updated, you’re ready to go — start the game through the VS or EXP logo on the left of the main Evercade menu and get ready to enjoy some tricky platforming!

Please note that saves from the Game of the Month edition of Thunder Paw will not carry across to the Indie Heroes 3 cartridge when that releases in February of 2024.


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