The emotion I most associate with the Thundercats is that of crushing, almost world-ending disappointment. First, it was my discovery a few years back that the original 80s cartoon wasn't anywhere near as good as I remembered it being. On the contrary, the show is just plain awful. A little part of my childhood died when I thought, "If I have to hear that song one more time during this episode, this DVD is going out the window..." The next disappointment followed a triumph, making it all the more draining. The Thundercats reboot on Cartoon Network was an amazing show, with top-notch animation, great voice work, an exciting, mature, (not blood and guts mature - actually mature) serialized plot - the show had it all. So of course, Cartoon Network canceled it after one jaw-dropping season. That was Thundercats disappointment number two. Now, to round out the trifecta of disappointment, we have Thundercats for the Nintendo DS. This game is the worst of the three downers; a complete mess that should be avoided by anyone and everyone. I'm not sure who I feel worse for - the Thundercats themselves or the people who will play this game.
Thundercats is a side-scrolling beat 'em up in the vein of many licensed Super Nintendo titles such as The Adventures of Batman and Robin, Spawn, Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose and the like. Players control Lion-O, leader of the Thundercats, in his never-ending quest to walk to the right side of the screen. Lion-O can run, jump, double jump and swing the Sword of Omens at wave after wave of identical bad guys. And, get this, he has a total of one button-mashing combo at his disposal! Amazing! He can also call in screen-clearing help from allies like Panthro, Tigra, Cheetara or Wylie Kit and Wylie Kat. Each boring level plays out exactly like the one before it - walk right, swat at enemies, maybe (awkwardly) jump on a platform or two and fight a boss battle that is criminally easy, totally contrived or some mix of both. At the end of each extremely short stage, your points are totaled and you move onto the next level... where you'll do it all over again. Woo-hoo.
The dated, lazy gameplay isn't even the worst part, though. The graphics and sound are much more offensive, and are even unimpressive when compared to those old SNES games I mentioned. Enemies are all palette swaps, the 2D environments are hazy and have little detail... Lion-O himself is a badly animated mess of pixels without a face or any distinguishing features. That's right; the Thundercats DS game is uglier than games that came out nearly 20 years ago. And hearing Lion-O yell "Thundercats... Ho!" is cute at first, but by the fifth time you hear it, you'll be muting the badly recorded sample to save your sanity.
Oh, you though the presentation was as bad as it gets? No, the absolute worst part is the game's technical problems. Thundercats supposedly has an auto-save feature that kicks in at the end of each level, but it isn't uncommon to beat a few, go back and find that the game not only forgot to record your progress, it erased your save file altogether! Having to play through these stages once is punishment enough; no one should be forced to do it twice or even three times. It doesn't stop there, either; if you like getting hit by invisible enemies, control glitches, flickering sprites and massive framerate slowdown, then Thundercats is the game for you.
What else can I say? Thundercats on the DS is one of the worst games I've had the distinct displeasure of playing in my six years writing for this site. It looks bad, it plays bad and it drags a fantastic cartoon reboot's name through the mud. The only positive thing I can think to say about this title is that I like the packaging's painted artwork, a nice portrait of the Thundercats. Avoid this one at all costs, and franchise fans should be sure to steer as clear as possible. Thundercats, for the third time in my life, thy name is disappointment.
Final Rating: 5%. Thundercats looks bad, it plays bad and it drags a fantastic cartoon reboot's name through the mud.