I’d heard rumor of this for years, couldn’t believe it could possibly be true.
A television show starring Hulk Hogan (that I am pretty sure I’ve inducted TWICE already!) was made into a video game. That part I can actually believe. There have been a lot of horrendous video game licenses over the years (and I urge you to click here to find out more from the incredibly underrated Kim Justice), so Thunder in Paradise somehow getting a game isn’t impossible to believe.
What is mind boggling is that it was released on the ill-fated CD-i!
Now for those of you who don’t remember the Phillips CD-i, let me do my best to explain. In the late 80’s, there were a bunch of different formats for CD data. I won’t bore you with details, but suffice to say Phillips decided to market the world’s first ever interactive game console that played CDs. Home computers had just started getting CD-ROM drives, so in theory I guess it made sense to try to get out ahead of the curve and develop a system that could play games on CDs at price less than what you’d pay for a decent PC capable of doing the same.
The problem is that most of the games apparently stunk to high heaven. I say “apparently”, because while I’ve never owned a CD-i, I have owned an Atari Jaguar since 1993 and my favorite home video game ever, Tempest 2000, is on that system, a console that many people think is nothing but garbage. For its part, the CD-i is perhaps best known these days for what is arguably the worst Nintendo licensed product ever, The Legend of Zelda: Faces of Evil. Now you hear a title like that and think, “Faces of EVIL? Is that a grown up Zelda game? That could be very cool!”
See, that’s what you think. What we got was this:
Still, it did lead to the first rendition of my etsy shop (What Ganon Is Up To, now known as Coasty Marshmallow), so I can’t hold that against the CD-i either really. Your mileage may vary.
You know what won’t vary?
The fact that Thunder in Paradise Interactive absolutely sucks.
So we fire up the disc and the first thing we see is the entire show intro. Not gonna waste a lot of keystrokes blasting that – video being played on anything other than a VCR was still kinda mind blowing at that point in time.
Plus this woman is very attractive. If you put on a welder’s helmet, you may be able to shield your eyes long enough from all that neon to find out her name is Carol Alt!
Soon enough, we’re past the intro and see some dorky looking kid walking up the beach. Soon enough, he is greeted by none other than The Mouth of the South himself, Jimmy Hart.
Alright, alright, maybe I caused it to loop to make him look like even more of a doofus.
But to be fair, skipping like that would happen a lot on CD-based games. You get a scratch on them, spill some Dr. Pepper on the disc, whatever, you could just be stuck waiting for the poor laser to try to move forward.
Anyhoo, Jimmy tells the kid it’s good to see him and he’s looking great!
I’d never besmirch the good name of Jimmy Hart, but I don’t see how anyone could ever say that to this guy with a straight face.
We run into Hulk Hog…wait, sorry, scratch that. This was during one of those weird phases in Hogan’s life where he was trying to get away from the “Hulk” name, and so in the credits it lists him as Terry “Hulk” Hogan. I’ll try to keep that in mind throughout the induction tonight.
So he tells us that he is also happy to see us (I guess we’re his camera man or the kid or something?), and that the interactive piece we’ve all been working on turned out great.
Next we see Chris Lemmon, and wouldn’t you know it, by golly he is ALSO thrilled to see us again.
Dude, I have never meet you in my life. I hope you aren’t stalking me. Especially when you’re wearing a POV hat.
He explains to us that we had all filmed an episode of Thunder in Paradise together a while back (where’s my royalty check?), but now you don’t just watch it – you can INTERACT WITH IT!
This leads to the menu screen, with members of the cast talking about all the amazing things you can do!
The little girl wants to just watch the show.
Carol wants to jump into the action and play the game.
Hulk Terry has a solution – why not do both?
“You know – INTERACTIVE TELEVISION!” he proclaims proudly.
Who am I to doubt the
Hulk Terrster? Interactive television here we come!
Before we get too far, however, we are greeted with another menu. You can choose to use a gun or use “OTHER”, which I would assume is the craptastic CD-i controller. If I had a gun, I would probably just shoot my television and put us all out of our misery, but we’re all in this one together.
Despite choosing something that is decidedly not a light gun, we still get to go through a calibration screen. And here you thought drifting controllers was something new when you’ve bought your fifth Joy-Con for the Switch.
So the “game” starts and we get this:
Maybe it’s just me, but that appears to be a man underwater.
A man with a vacuum hose on his crotch.
Not sure what original stories Robert Weaver has penned before, but I’m guessing Snorkeling Fanfic.
Somehow this transitions to a shot of
Hulk Terry with a high tech gadget on his noggin, while a voice offscreen tells us they are going to suck his memories out or something.
We then get the most early 90’s “high tech” screen imaginable.
Things go awry, and the contraption short circuits and Terry’s brain explodes. Not gonna lie, I did not see any of this coming when I started this review.
Also, the guy who was getting the submerged suckomatic gets out of the water and starts attacking people. Then he leaves, so Hogan and crew hop into their boat (did the guy swim away???) and are immediately attacked by drones.
Yes, for all you folks that think you’re cool because you went to Best Buy and picked up some hot “new” tech,
Hulk Terry Hogan of all people was talking about drones in 1995.
On a CD-i game.
TL;DR: they are ripping off Terminator.
At this point, Spence (Terry) looks directly at the camera and points his finger. “Ok, kid, you’re hooked up to Thunder’s weaponry! Show us your stuff!”
Wow, that almost sounds like we are about to play a game!
Now no doubt when you are looking at this, you are thinking one of two things:
- It looks really lame
- But it was released in 1995, so the tech wasn’t the best, we should cut it some slack
I’ll counter with…
3. Never blame the tech for a crappy game
So this goes on forever and ever.
Making matters worse, you get ‘cutscenes’ throughout the fight where Lemmon and Spence give you sage wisdom such as, “Less drones, less incoming! GET IT?”
You may think you are losing something but not having audio with that GIF, but trust me, I am doing you a favor.
After like fifteen minutes straight of this nonsense, the screen turns red and the guys yell at you for causing damage to the boat.
Up yours, Hogan – I didn’t see you guys shooting at tiny pixelated planes til your fingers bled!
We get some typical cut scenes to help further the “story”, such as this one where a guy is shot with a laser beam. I think. To be honest, I don’t know what happened and I ain’t about to waste your time or mine going back to check.
You can also go through and look at the various tech onboard Thunder. Want to see the world’s most basic cannon rendering? We got ya covered.
I remember when there was a Star Trek interactive disc that came out of PCs in about this same time period and people were losing their ever-loving minds over it.
I cannot in any universe fathom anyone having the same enthusiasm for Thunder in Paradise.
The funniest part of all this is an option on for a Rossiter Island Dossier. Click on that, and you get a full screen video of its inhabitants, who are bikini-clad honeys spending their time stroking their hair, riding in inner tubes, and going down the world’s tiniest slide.
Seriously, what is the deal with that slide? It looks too small for a 9 month old.
We also learn about the baddie in the game, a feller by the name of Darius Rampike. See that thing on his face? That’s not a graphic overlay, it’s a prop, supposedly metal I believe.
The more I look at it, the more I think it may be part of the thing Beefcake wore over his skull when he was the Run-In Man.
Learning of Rampike’s whereabouts, the boys kick Thunder into overdrive. That’s not me speeding up the animation – that was the ‘special effect’ of the boat racing through the ocean.
So you get to Rampike’s island, and Hogan yells at you some more. I guess my motivation as a player is to do well just so he’ll stop with the brow beatings.
Also, in the past, I would have made a blow up doll joke looking at that picture. Now I instead look at it and think, “You know, if I blew that up and printed it out, I could cut a hole where his mouth is and throw empty water bottle caps through it.”
Not sure if that’s maturity or me just becoming an old crazy loon.
So the kid (who I guess is supposed to be us?) grabs what I am 99% sure is a modified Sega Menacer and heads out into what appears to be an empty water park. Maybe Wet & Wild. I loved that place as a kid.
Anyway, this means it’s FINALLY time to play another ‘game’ on here.
On the plus side, this VERY basic light gun game is better than that thing at the beginning where you shot down planes. People show up in a garden as you zap them. And of course Uncle Terry yells at you for no good reason.
This stage also goes about 15 minutes, during which time you shoot maybe six or seven baddies. If I’ve made any of this sound remotely interesting, I owe you an apology.
In the interest of fairness, you DO wind up getting into a boss battle of sorts with the Terminator guy from the beginning of the show. He winds up on a knee and mute. I don’t know, maybe he was always mute. I’m just thankfully he wasn’t yelling at me.
But sadly, that is NOT the end of the game as the little girl has been abducted by the metal face guy.
Wait, did I say metal face guy? I meant Or as Darius Rampike (as Spence tells us with the most ridiculously over the top dramatic music ever).
So they reprogram the Terminator guy (who apparently is named, no joke, THE MAJOR) and give him the Menacer to go into battle, while the kid has a NEURAL LINK to him.
If you are guessing that means another light gun shoot ’em up while Lemmon and Hogan yell at you…
…step right up and claim your prize!
Instead of running around a water park, you are now running around a warehouse. If you think that sounds incredibly boring, you’re in luck as Rampike shows up and says “Welcome to my virtual nightmare!” and teleports you onto a city street.
That there is one lazy plot device to use stock imagery. Eh, whatever, it means we’re closer to the end of the game.
We now run face to face with RAMPIKE. I guarantee if I told you, “you have five minutes and whatever you have laying around in your garage to create a cyborg bad guy”, I am fully confident you could top this.
So we get one more round of light gun in the warehouse…
…and then you kill Rampike.
Actually, you never really see the shot the killed him, you just walk around a corner and he’s dead on the ground. Could have had a bad asthma attack from being in that warehouse for days on end for all we know.
Hogan and Lemmon finally give you some props in the form of TWO THUMBS UP.
Screw that, where are all the honeys to congratulate me?
Hey, there they are! Maybe this game wasn’t so bad after all.
Oh who am I kidding?
No amount of hotties can make up for a high score screen font that is THAT bad!