Rolling Thunder

Arcade Video game published 36 years ago by NAMCO

Rolling Thunder screenshot

Listed and emulated in MAME.

Rolling Thunder © 1986 Namco.

Rolling Thunder is a single-player scrolling platform shoot-em-up in which a James Bond-esque secret agent codenamed 'Albatross' has been ordered by the Rolling Thunder anti-espionage unit to stop the criminal organization known as Geldra. Albatross must also rescue captured field agent, Lelia Blitz and overthrow Geldra's leader, Maboo.

Rolling Thunder's gameplay takes place on two levels of platforms, with the player able to jump or drop to platforms as and when required. Albatross begins the game armed with only a standard-issue pistol and a limited amount of ammunition. If the pistol's ammunition runs out, the player can only fire a single slow "chaser" bullet - with only one allowed on-screen at any one time - until more ammo is acquired.

Each level is littered with doors; most of these contain constantly emerging enemies and must be carefully passed; some, however, also provide ammunition and new weapons. Ammo rooms are clearly marked while weapons rooms have re-enforced metal doors. A weapons room gives the player a fully automatic assault rifle that allows for continuous firing by holding down the shoot button. As with the pistol, the assault rifle has a limited amount of ammunition.

The majority of Rolling Thunder's protagonists are hooded soldiers known as "Maskers". Maskers are dressed in various colors, which determines both their strength and attack pattern. Some Maskers do not shoot, but throw grenades instead, while others will shoot their gun while crouching, making their shots much harder to avoid.

Other enemies includes ninjas, mutated bats known as Gelzos, panthers, shrieking yellow creatures known as Blogas and lava men.

Albatross must travel through two different segments or "stories" - each composed of five stages - making for a total of ten stages. The stages in Story 2 are essentially a harder version of their Story 1 counterparts, featuring more traps and different enemy placement. At the end of the final stage, the player must battle the Geldra leader Maboo to rescue Leila and complete the mission.

Goodies for Rolling Thunder
Click to enlarge
(members only)

Namco System 86 hardware
Game ID : RT

Main CPU : (2x) M6809 (@ 1.536 Mhz), Hitachi HD63701 (@ 1.536 Mhz)
Sound Chips : Yamaha YM2151 (@ 3.57958 Mhz), Namco 8-channel WSG, Namco (@ 6 Mhz)

Players : 2
Control : 4-way joystick
Buttons : 2


Rolling Thunder was released in December 1986.

Rolling Thunder was the first Jamma game ever produced.

Licensed to Atari for US distribution (February 1987). 2,406 units were produced in the USA by Atari.

A Rolling Thunder unit appears in the 1996 movie 'High School High'.

Alfa Records released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Namco Game Music Vol.1 - 28XA-170) on July 25, 1987.

Goodies for Rolling Thunder
Click to see more
(members only)

* New title screen.
* BGM of area 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 10 are changed.
* Different enemy arrangement.
* Addition of a Continue feature.
* Addition of the Extra-life feature.
* 150 time units (180 in the old version).


* One of rolling thunder's more useful 'hidden features' is that it's actually possible to visit the ammo rooms more than once. Once you have stocked up on bullets from a particular room (for example, a Machine-Gun-Bullets room), go forward past the door approximately the distance of two jumps (ensuring that the door in question is completely off screen), then turn back, visit the room again, and find more ammo. The reason this works is because the game is divided into invisible 'sections' and once you cross a section boundary, the game forgets everything from the previous section.

* A step-by-step guide to one of Rolling Thunder's more impressive glitches :
1) In levels five and ten, once you get to a certain point in the level (around halfway through), you come up against two boxes stacked on top of each other (i.e. you can't jump over it), and a platform above you (on which you jump and continue to the RIGHT).
2) At this point, jump UP onto the platform, then position yourself at the very RIGHT EDGE of the railing on the platform (you can only jump up/down where railing is present) which should correspond to the very LEFT EDGE of the BOXES; then jump DOWN. This will put you at the very LEFT EDGE of the boxes.
3) Next, making sure not to move the joystick to the left, walk towards the RIGHT, hit the JUMP button, and you should find yourself 'caught' between the bottom and top boxes. Then jump RIGHT again, clearing the top box and landing on the ground. Don't fire at anyone, and don't panic, but simply go to the RIGHT watch yourself walk through everybody completely unharmed. You can simply walk past everyone until you reach the final, cloak-wearing enemy. Finally, providing you have properly stocked up on 'MG bullets' earlier in the game, simply hold down the fire button and kill the enemy. One final thing to note is that when using this method on level TEN, in that last area before the final arena, there are the 'stairs-like' hurdles, and on each of these steps, a white enemy will appear.
4) You have to be careful not to be in too much of a hurry, or they will follow you into the arena, where they can and will hurt you, or keep you busy enough that the guy in the cloak will. So make sure you have a little extra time to let those guys disappear off the screen (after you've made all of them appear) before going after the guy in the cloak in the arena.

* This is completely useless, but fun to do : at the end of each level there is this force field, which drags you through the door. Just before you get sucked in, turn your back to the exit and make low jumps (jump button only) while pushing the joystick towards the exit. This results in your agent jumping backwards a little every time. When the force field catches you, your character will appear to 'moonwalk' into the exit.


1. Rolling Thunder (1986, Arcade)
2. Rolling Thunder 2 (1991, Arcade)
3. Rolling Thunder 3 [Model T-14096] (1993, Genesis)


Music composed by : Junko Ozawa


[JP] Nintendo Famicom (mar.17, 1989)
[US] Nintendo NES (1989)
[JP] Sony PlayStation (oct.30, 1997) "Namco Museum Encore [Model SLPS-01050]"
[US] Microsoft XBOX (aug.30, 2005) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary [Model NMO-2201A-NM]"
[US] Nintendo GameCube [US] (aug.30, 2005) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary [Model DOL-G5NE-USA]"
[US] Sony PS2 (aug.30, 2005) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary [Model SLUS-21164]"
[JP] Sony PS2 (jan.26, 2006) "Namco Museum Arcade Hits! [Model SLPS-25590]"
[EU] Microsoft XBOX (mar.24, 2006) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary"
[EU] Sony PS2 (mar.31, 2006) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary [Model SLES-53957]"
[EU] Nintendo GameCube (may.5, 2006) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary [Model DOL-G5NP-EUR]"
[US] Microsoft XBOX 360 (nov.4, 2008) "Namco Museum - Virtual Arcade [Model 21022]"
[EU] Microsoft XBOX 360 (may.15, 2009) "Namco Museum - Virtual Arcade"
[AU] Microsoft XBOX 360 (june.4, 2009) "Namco Museum - Virtual Arcade"
[JP] Nintendo Wii [Virtual Console Arcade] (jul.21, 2009)
[JP] Microsoft XBOX 360 (nov.5, 2009) "Namco Museum - Virtual Arcade [Model 2RD-00001]"

[US] Atari Lynx [Unreleased Prototype]
[US] Sony PSP (aug.23, 2005) "Namco Museum Battle Collection [Model ULUS-10035]"
[EU] Sony PSP (dec.9, 2005) "Namco Museum Battle Collection [Model UCES-00116]"
[JP] Sony PSP (feb.23, 2006) "Namco Museum Vol.2 [Model ULJS-00047]"
[KO] Sony PSP (nov.8, 2007) "Namco Museum Vol.2"

Atari ST (1986)
[EU] Commodore Amiga (1987)
[US] Commodore C64 [EU] (1987)
[EU] Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1988)
[EU] Amstrad CPC (1988)
[EU] Commodore Amiga (1988) "Amiga Gold Hits 1"
[US] PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (oct.25, 2005) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary"
[EU] PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (mar.27, 2006) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary"
[AU] PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (may.19, 2006) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary"

[US] LCD handheld game (1986) released by MGA (Micro Games of America).
[US] Apple iPhone/iPod (mar.13, 2012) "Namco Arcade [Model 465606050]"
[US] Arcade (2010) "Pac-Man's Arcade Party"
[US] Arcade (2018) "Pac-Man's Pixel Bash"


Game's manual.
Game's picture.
Game's ROMs.
Game's screenshots.
See goodies section.