Rolling Thunder is an action game developed by Namco and released in Japanese arcades in 1986. In it, you play as a member of the WCPO (World Central Police Organization/世界刑事警察機構) named Albatross who is trying to rescue his partner, Leila, from the evil organization bent on world domination called "GELDRA". There are a couple of minor differences between the arcade and Famicom versions of the game; these mostly revolve around the types of maskers encountered, the number of them encountered (the arcade version has a vastly greater number of enemies attacking Albatross) and the speed of their bullets (their bullets travel much faster in the famicom version, making reacting trickier at times!). The game features 10 stages.
The player must help Albatross make his way through various GELDRA bases in search of clues to the location of their HQ and to rescue Leila. To do so, the player guiding him will need quick reflexes. Albatross is armed with a pistol which can be shot rapidly; if the player should run out of ammo, the last bullet will regenerate over time, but this seriously impedes the player's rate of fire. Albatross is capable of touching an enemy twice before dying, or being shot/hit by a grenade/burned with flames/etc. a single time before losing a life.
In many stages there are two or more "levels" (a ground floor and a catwalk of some sort) that the player can stand on; the player can switch between them by either hitting up and jump or down and jump. Sometimes there are objects (or not, as the issue is generally a lack of a hand rail) which will prevent the player from dropping down from the upper level. In addition, doors are spaced throughout all stages. These doors serve three purposes: Firstly, they are a point of entry for GELDRA agents, termed "maskers". Secondly, they are a place for Albatross to hide from the maskers. Be careful though, as if a masker sees you enter, he won't be afraid to simply stand in front of the door! Thirdly some doors are labeled "ammo" or "arms". The "arms" doors temporarily grant Albatross the ability to use a machine gun. When the ammo runs out, Albatross returns to using his normal pistol. The "ammo" doors simply contain extra ammo for Albatross' pistol. At the end of each stage, the player is treated to a cutscene of maskers watching other maskers harassing Leila via a massive monitor, either stripping her of clothing, electrocuting her, or performing some other diabolical and villainous deed.
The main protagonist. He belongs to "Rolling Thunder", a group of the best agents in the WCPO. His favourite gun is a "Walther P-38". His design is apparently loosely inspired by Lupin III. He returns in Rolling Thunder 2.
A fellow member of Rolling Thunder and Albatross' partner, she was caught while on duty by GELDRA. The object of the game is to rescue her. She returns as a playable character in Rolling Thunder 2.
The evil leader and founder of the GELDRA organization. He is determined to conquer the world, and doesn't even appear to be human. He is capable of firing energy projectiles from his hands.
The foot soldiers of the GELDRA organization. They come in a great variety of colors, which generally are an indicator of how they attack and react to the player. Some, termed "ninjas", are equipped with special stealth suits; others which wear goggles and have rounded hoods are generally sturdier than your basic masker.
There are several stage types in Rolling Thunder; the player passes through two sets of stages termed "story 1" and "story 2", culminating in the second secret lab which is GELDRA's true headquarters.
The first stage in both story 1 and 2 are of this variety. It is characterized by a blue background and containers.
Resembling a cave, there are often panthers or mutant bats called gelzo found in these.
Secret GELDRA bases hidden around the world. These resemble labs, and are generally swarming with maskers.