Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
Rolling Thunder, 20 Years On

From: George Weilacher
To: 'Noel Munson', 'Michael Fuchs'
Date: Tue, 26 Jan 2010 14:11:45 -0500
Subject: RE: Insert Coin

Ah, memories of Newcombs game room:

Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 03:04:58 -0600
From: michael stephen fuchs
To: George Weilacher
Cc: Noel Munson
Subject: RE: Insert Coin

Okay, first allow me to say: WHAT THE F*&^??!!

But I'll get back to that. I should start at the beginning:

Very cool. Certainly does bring back a lot of memories. Speaking of memories, I was amazed and amused to discover I could actually remember where most of the baddies on the first few screens were going to pop out. (Twenty years later!) But, of course, that was half the game - knowing in advance where opponents were going to appear.

Now, back to WTF:

George will know, though Noel probably doesn't, that I probably played more Rolling Thunder than God. And I was good. I seem to recall that I got to the point where I could get through all ten screens on a single quarter. However -

I never beat the motherfraker.

I'd get to the boss at the very end of level 10. I'd shoot the shit out of him. He'd rush me and kill me.

I'd play all the way through the game again. I'd get to the boss. I'd shoot the shit out of him. He'd rush me. I'd jump over him, then shoot the shit out of him. He'd rush me. I'd jump over him, then shoot the shit out of him. This would go on, until eventually he wore me down and caught me, rushing me and killing me. No amount of shooting of the bastard I did would have any perceivable effect.

I'd play through the whole game again. I figured there was some trick I was missing. I tried shooting him with the pistol instead of the machine gun. I shot him high. I shot him low. I didn't shoot him at all, thinking maybe he'd rush up and shake my hand. I'd shoot the shit out of him again. (Note: Between all of these different attempts at different tactics, there's an implied "He finally rushed me and killed me. I played through all ten levels again.") I tried going around to every corner of the room, trying to push or pull on things, or go somewhere else, or make something else happen. I fucking tried everything. He rushed me and killed me.

My conclusion, finally, was that all this was nothing more nor less than a huge joke on the part of the game designers.

Probably about five years ago, actually, I found myself thinking about Rolling Thunder. And now it was the web age. So I Googled the shit out of it. I figured someone, somewhere must have A) figured out how actually to beat the fucking boss; and B) posted about it online. Nothing. I couldn't find anything. I mean, I found a lot of Rolling Thunder stuff, but nothing about the trick to beating the final boss.

Then, today, 20 years later, George sends me this Youtube clip. And in the related videos, as there are always related videos, there was this:

Holy shit! So I spent the first 10 minutes of my Wednesday morning watching this clip. More blast from the past: Ninjas! Owls! Panthers! Those goddamned fucking fire people! (Bastards!) And the whole time I'm stewing in anticipation: I'm going to finally learn the trick! After all these decades! I watched this guy play the last three levels. He was good. (You had to be, by that point.) He dropped the panthers as they pounced. He turned all the clever tricks of jumping over stairwells instead of going down them into crowds of bad guys. He jumped up and down in place until he convinced the incessant bomb-throwing guy to reveal himself.

He got to the end.

The boss rushed him.

He fired maybe 10 or 15 rounds, instantly killing the boss.

The game was over.


I'm still no wiser about how I could have beaten the game - or, rather, what was wrong with our one single Rolling Thunder machine in the basement of Newcomb Hall.

But I do know that I wasted God knows how many hours and quarters looking for a trick that was never there.


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close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
ARISEN : Last Stand
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 1 - The Collapse
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 2 - Tribes
Black Squadron
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 3 - Dead Men Walking
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 4 - Duty
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 5 - The Last Raid
ARISEN : Fickisms ][ – This Time, It's Personal
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple
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