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Varth: Operation Thunderstorm (occasionally known simply as "Varth") is an arcade game in the vertical scrolling shooter genre, published by Capcom in 1992. The game did not see a console port following its initial release, but 14 years later Digital Eclipse Software would port the game onto the PSP handheld (in the Capcom Classics collection), and later onto the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
Varth follows the story of a disaster that befalls a human colony on a planet of the same name. The entire colony is run by a 7th generation supercomputer which controls the operations of all machinery on the planet. Unfortunately for the residents of Varth, Delta-7 has been possessed by the entity "Duo", thought of as an evil spirit but actually a temporal-spatial consciousness which spontaneously arose within the supercomputer. Duo has come to the conclusion that human existence is inimical to the planet, and has therefore turned the planet's defenses against its own populace. Eighty percent of the planet is laid waste by the event, and this is only the beginning of Duo's cleansing scheme. The colonists' reliance on the supercomputer has caused them to lose the ability to take care of themselves, and thus have no means of fighting back. The only hope for the colony lies in the pilots of two planes equipped with 4th generation computers which Duo cannot control--they are controlled not by machinery, but by humans.
Varth's gameplay draws very heavily from 1942 and other games in the 194X series. The goal is to destroy enemy units while avoiding being hit, and reach the end of the level, occasionally ending with a boss fight. One hit from an enemy will cause the player to lose a plane, and at a lengthy 30 levels Varth makes for quite a challenge. The biggest difference between Varth and other games in the genre of its time is the inclusion of items called "Pods". When a player picks up a pod item, a pair of pods will follow the player and carry weaponry of their own to supplement their artillery. Additionally, pods can completely block most (but not all) forms of attacks from enemies, rendering the player invulnerable to attack from any direction in which the pods are situated. Players can choose from two formations for their pods - fixed or smart. In fixed mode, both pods remain directly in front of the player to render the planes invulnerable from the front, but leave them open on the sides and from behind. In the smart position the pods will remain separate from each other at a 180-degree angle, and move about according to the direction of incoming fire. If enemy fire manages to slip between the pods before they can react (potentially common in later levels as large numbers of enemies appear on screen), the player is left vulnerable and only has the option of moving in hopes of avoiding a hit.
Varth features three different weapons for the player - a laser (long rate of sustained fire but lowest horizontal range), a shotgun (relatively powerful with a potential range as wide as the player's craft), and multi-directional shot (very wide range but lowest sustained rate of fire). Additionally, three different types of pod weapons are available - homing missiles (weakest weapon but with a useful homing advantage), missiles (more damaging than homing missiles but can only fire forward), and napalm (powerful but with very low range). Like 194X games, Varth also features bombs which allow the planes to perform "mega crashes". The type of mega crash a plane can do is determined by the weapon it is carrying. Lasers will result in an electricity attack that will cover the entire screen. The shotgun will fire missiles which will move from target to target. The multi-directional shot will fire a single large burst that moves directly forward from the player,then emanates many smaller bolts on reaching the top of the screen.
The game also features several items which can help the player in other ways, such as point-yielding icons, items which will increase the power of your arsenal, additionally bombs, and items that will destroy all enemies on a screen. Perhaps the most useful item is the Yashichi, which will instantly upgrade a player's weaponry to its highest level.
Characters and Planes
P1 Fighter: Tanikura F7W Saber
Code #: EK-0131S
Engine: J33S-Kinsei thrust 9,032 lbf (40.18 kN)*1
Wingspan: 31' 9"
Length: 29' 6"
Weight: 9,922 lb (4,501 kg)
Maximum speed: 553 kn
Ceiling: 55,256 ft (16,842 m)
Range: 4,096 NM (7,586 km)
- V61K 30 mm Vulcan
- HLC-5 Zoom-Laser Gun
- WR-7 A.A. Rocket Missile
- Smart Pods
- Front Pods
P1 Pilot: Casber Rublan
Height: 174 cm
Weight: 68 kg
A fighter for the resistance. One-time B+ class pilot. Quite the comedian, his quick wit and unique style are well-loved by his friends. A little on the slim side, he does not fit the stereotypical "soldier" mold. Casber usually wears the liberation bandanna around his head.
P2 Fighter: Dakao/M-2451 Scimitar
Code #: SO-0819HGS
Engine: HRO402-Maximum thrust 6,773 lbf (30.13 kN)*2
Wingspan: 32' 4"
Length: 35' 11"
Height: 10' 3"
Weight: 13,671 lb (6,201 kg)
Maximum speed: 492 kn
Ceiling: 55,773 ft
Range: 4,128 NM
Available arms: Same as Saber
P2 Pilot: Felry Carnihum
Height: 163 cm
Weight: 49 kg
A fighter for the resistance. Former acrobatic flying instructor. The daughter of a pilot, Felry has been flying all her life and piloting her own plane since she was a teenager. She greatly distrusted the complete control man was giving to the machines and her distrust has proven accurate. A talented engineer, she joined the reconditioning team to prepare the two planes. She has no battle experience but sports a unique style of flying.
Despite Varth itself seldom being referred to in other games, a number of Capcom titles cross over into Varth in some way.
- Items that increase weapon power and effectiveness exist in the form of orange icons with "POW" written across them. The POW icon is a staple of many Capcom games, originating with its first title, Vulgus.
- There are many parallels to 1942 and its sequels in the game. The three main weapons featured in the game, as well as the presence of a mega crash, originate with 1943. Additionally, the presence of five red aircraft which follow each other in a formation and will drop power-ups when destroyed, as featured in Varth, is a staple of the 194X series.
- The player one character from Side Arms Hyper Dyne appears as an item that will destroy all on-screen enemies when collected.
- Perhaps the most well-known cameo in Varth is in the fourth level. By a section of grass and pipes on the Satellite's lower-right section, Ryu from the Street Fighter series will appear and perform a shoryuken. Continuing to fire on Ryu until he disappears will yield a large amount of power-ups. Beating the game will also yield several synchronized-Shoryukening Ryus during the credits roll.
- Capcom's signature yashichi, originally of Vulgus, makes an appearance in Varth as an item which will raise a plane's weaponry to its maximum level.