I have to admit that I booted up this game because I had to see a game that had girls with big boobs being mutated into lizard women. I *think* I remember playing this game at some point in an aracde, I remember the underwater segment. This game is just so insane. I played through the first couple of levels. The second level has a very "bionic commando" feel in terms of the level art and design.
So Cal said that he thought that this was a sequel to the rolling thunder games. Make sense the game play as very similar. In fact that first "walking" level is almost identical to rolling thunder right down to the "guys face on a big TV screen". What was it with big screens in the 80s. how did we think they'd work. Can you imagine a tube that huge? a two story tube? in reality it'd be a bunch of TVs all synced to show one huge image. Or a projection screen or something.
Anyway, I was so intrigued by the crazy game with topless lizard girls and tropes like punk rock girls and robot dogs that I wanted to find out more. I mean just look at the ending...the "bodacious" language and scary mutant flying carpet of zits just come on:
The game doesn't even have a wikipedia. But playing the game you can't help but feel like "this game has to be running on the "rolling thunder" engine. Actually rolling thunder is a much smoother game while Thunder Jaws feels very herky jerky. And if you really think about it the "rolling thunder" two level side scroller shooter was actually pioneered by Shinobi. Right? Can anyone think of an earlier example.
A very similar game to this is Data East's Sly Spy. Sly Spy even has an underwater level where you fight a big shark, this is probably the "underwater" level I'm remembering from my youth but I could be wrong. Sly Spy I think is a better game in terms of art and gameplay. The animation in Thunder Jaws is clunky and the controls don't feel as responsive, but I guess that could be emulation.
So thunder jaws game is an Atari game, Rolling Thunder was a Namco Game, Shinobi was a Sega game, and Sly Spy (Secret Agent) was Data East. The game play is very similar in all these games but there isn't any information on the development team listed at the game developers research institute so it's hard to say if any of the same development teams worked on any of these different (but very similar) games. LIkely this was just the result of itteration and copying good ideas. But playing Thunder JAws you really feel that the game is very derrivative of rolling thunder, was Atari that morally bankrupt by that time? The fan service T and A doesn't hide this games' shortcomings... but some of the pixel art is great even if the animation is stiff (again that could be emulation).
The biggest innovation that thunder jaws added was the 2nd level where you actually climb a structure rather than just go up and down between the first and second floor.