Thunder in Paradise was developed in-house (with assistance from Mass Media) and self-published by Philips in 1995 for the CD-i. The game was based on a direct-to-video movie made in 1993 staring Terry "Hulk" Hogan and Chris Lemmon. The movie was followed by a TV show, which debuted in 1994 and only lasted one season. The show was about two for-hire mercenaries in Florida who designed and built Thunder; a highly advanced speedboat with weapons, hidden jetskis, and optical camouflage capabilities. The team of ex-Seals fought various sea- and land-based criminals while trying to keep their home lives in check. The show also features other pro wrestlers, such as Ed Leslie (Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake), Steve Borden (Sting), and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart as guest stars. Sting was Hulk Hogan's main nemesis of the series. Its target audience was children and young adults.
The CD-i game was based on the final 2 episodes of the series titled "The M.A.J.O.R. and the Minor" which was a 2 part conclusion to the show airing in November 1994.
The game is divided into three main events or sections much in the same way as "Die Hard" for Sega Saturn was set up except the last two are identical in terms of gameplay. Players can play the sections of the game in any order. Being able to select the section from the main menu was probably done because the game cant be saved.
The first section is titled "Thunder Encounter". In Thunder Encounter, players control the weapons on the war ship Thunder. However, players cannot control the boat itself. The object is to protect Thunder and destroy as many targets as possible. Players can switch which side of the boat the camera is on instantly or players can slowly rotate the camera themselves. There is a radar that tells players where threats are coming from so you know where you should be looking but the often sluggish controls can make destroying the targets harder than it really should be.
The second and third events are titled "Island Encounter" and "Lab Encounter". Both of these sections play as a light-gun shooter. Players don't control the movement of the character but instead control a cursor which is used to aim and shot at targets. The enemies were filmed independent of the scene itself so their locations can be randomized.
The prototype of Thunder in Paradise differs from the retail release in a number of ways; the art was changed as well as certain menus and video files. There is also the possibility of a different video codec being used or a higher bit rate. The file structure and file names on the discs were also modified, as were some of the security files standard on all CD-i games. Despite these changes, the core gameplay remained the same.