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Thornado Preview

Publisher - Factor 5
Developer - Factor 5
Platform - N64
Release Date - May 1999
Type - Action

The much neglected shooting genre on the N64 is getting a gush of fresh air. Factor 5, the company behind Ballblazer Champions and Rebel Assault 2 (PSX), has begun development on Thornado, a 3D shooter much in the vein of Metroid and Contra.

Formerly known as Turrican 64, the game’s tentative title, Thornado (yes, with an "h"), refers to the player’s ability to use wind-based weapons that you can use to literally blow enemies and obstacles out of the way. Factor 5 opted to change the name after not being able to reach an agreement with Rainbow Arts/Soft Gold, a European publisher that still owns the rights to the Turrican (Amiga/SNES) name.

Thornado is reportedly a super-fast shooting game that combines 3D action with a little bit of exploration as you defend Earth from an invading alien force. The game will feature two selectable characters, a man and a woman, and futuristic polygon environments that range from Earth to outer space.

In addition to a range of "wind" weapons that are likely to produce hurricanes and powerful blasts, Thornado will also bring back the popular "grappling beam" that lets you cross chasms and swing over dangerous obstacles. But easily the best news about the game is that two players can take part in the action at the same time.

On the graphics side, Thornado will include a proprietary particle effects system and light sourcing that may even give the explosions and lighting effects in Turok a run for their money. Although Factor 5 is not ready to release in-game screenshots, you can already take a look at some cool concept drawings that give you an idea of what Thornado is all about. In the final game, the characters and enemies will of course consist of highly detailed 3D texture mapped models, brought to life with motion captured animation. Factor 5 told N64.com that they are also experimenting with the N64’s hi-res capabilities, but will probably opt for an "in-between" mode that combines fast speed with a higher than usual resolution -- a first on the N64. Add to that a kick-bass surround soundtrack by Amiga legend Chris Huelsbeck and Rudolf Stember and Thornado could easily become a new benchmark for graphics and sound on the N64.

Originally located in Cologne, Germany, Factor 5 has only recently moved their development studios to San Rafael, California. Asides from a number of well-received Amiga projects and the more recent PSX releases, Factor 5 was also the driving force behind Turrican and Indiana Jones on the SNES.