Thunder Force IV

From Sega Retro


ThunderForceIV MDTitleScreen.png
Thunder Force IV
System(s): Sega Mega Drive
Publisher: Tecnosoft, Sega (US/EU)
Genre: Shoot-'em-Up

Number of players: 1
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Mega Drive
¥8,800 T-18063
Sega Mega Drive
$29.99[1] 1143
Sega Mega Drive
£49.99[2] 1143-50
Sega Mega Drive
?F 1143-50
Sega Mega Drive
DM ? 1143-50
Sega Mega Drive
?Ptas 1143-50
Sega Mega Drive
$? ?
Sega Mega Drive
₩? GM8055JT

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Thunder Force IV (サンダーフォースIV), called Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar in the US, is a 1992 shoot-'em-up by Tecnosoft released for the Sega Mega Drive. It is the fourth game in the Thunder Force series.


Shortly after defeating the ORN Empire in Thunder Force III, the Galaxy Federation comes under attack by survivors of the empire, who have banded together to form a new threat, Vios. Vios turns out to be more powerful than ORN ever was, and the Galaxy Federation must again use a new small craft to destroy their base on the planet Aceria.


Gameplay is almost identical to III: B shoots (you have rapidfire), A changes speed by 25% while holding the button down constantly adds 1%, C changes weapon, and powerups are collected from enemies. Unlike III, however, you are not fixed to the camera motion; holding Up and Down will take you higher/lower than the screen limits (as in II).


  • Blade: Update of the standard shot. Destructive but big bullets, sometimes too big (see Strite boss)
  • Railgun: Update of the rear shot
  • Freeway: Small rockets that fire in the opposite direction of the ships movement
  • Snake: Bombs that travel along the ground/ceiling
  • Hunter: Homing orbs


The first four stages can be played in any order; the order listed here is the default.

Notavailable.svg Strite
A world full of clouds, mountains, and waters. You spend two "days" on this planet, primarily shooting down basic enemies that either just attack, shoot homing missiles at you, or worse. A giant serpent-like creature will come at you several times. A train-like underwater being will send smaller enemies hurling at you while trying to hit you with a large laser, and the rising boss ship will make it easier for homing missiles to hit you...
  • Boss: A giant ship with a fin on the bottom that shoots fireballs at you. Hit it enough and it will detach from the ship, revealing a free-moving sub-ship that will attack you in a variety of ways. Due to collision detection on the boss' weak spot, it's very difficult to damage him with the "Blade" weapon.
Notavailable.svg Ruin
A blue ruin facing the void of space. Here you face larger robots on pedestals that are hard to defeat, pairs of laser-shooting shark-like beings, barriers that form as you move, and small, immobile enemies that generate themselves int he least convenient places. Halfway though you fight a giant robot that spams loads of bullets at you at once.
Notavailable.svg Air-Raid
Possibly better called an outer space raid: you fly through an asteroid belt, avoiding the (multiple) turrets that constantly send bullets your way and follow your every move. You also have to dodge the regular enemies (they come fast) and avoid crashing into an asteroid. Halfway through, the astroids start moving at very high speeds, so pay attention to survive!
Notavailable.svg Daser
Fly through a desert sandstorm. Some enemies can take massive damage before going down.
  • Boss:Formalhaut
Notavailable.svg Vios
Battle the boss ship from stage one in space
Notavailable.svg Volbados
Water and Ice themed world, with the path over and under water being almost completely different play experiences
Notavailable.svg Desvio
Lava themed world with a cameo boss
Notavailable.svg Bio-Base
A stage in a bio-mechanic environment which consists mainly of miniboss fights
Notavailable.svg Wall
Last "proper" stage with moving walls and traps
Notavailable.svg Versus
Final confrontation

Tips and tricks

  • The game has at least two score exploit points. The first is at the enemy just before going underwater in Strite. I constantly releases small enemies. The second is in the final stage, Versus. Keep playing until you reach the large cannon, which you normally must destroy to proceed. Power up items and 1UPs will keep respawning forever. Whether this was by design or an oversight is not clear.


Localised names

Also known as
Language Localised Name English Translation
English Thunder Force IV Thunder Force IV
English (US) Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar
Japanese サンダーフォースIV Thunder Force IV

Production credits

  • Programmers: Indick Mst, Yotaro, Zako, Chinpui, Kwd & Edger, Fake Dwarf Giva, Godzy, Alpha
  • Graphics: Two Socks, Krp, Gaja, Silver Hammer, Ushimatu, Hunter, Booby Master, Tamtam, Guges.D, Unbalance, Pei Crash, No Remorse, Shion
  • Music: Funky Surounin, Omen, Yunker Matai
  • Voice: Atuko
  • Director: My Home Papa
  • Producer: Sigotonin

Magazine articles

Main article: Thunder Force IV/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

Main article: Thunder Force IV/Promotional material.

Physical scans

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
92 [3]
93 [4]
91 [5]
98 [6]
87 №13, p84-86
93 [7]
97 [8]
93 [9]
93 [10]
95 [11]
97 [12]
94 [13]
97 [14]
94 [15]
81 [16]
92 №1, p65
94 №9, p30-33
87 [17]
94 [18]
91 [19]
91 №36, p54/55
100 [20]
92 №11, p64-65
92 №18, p68
88 [21]
90 [22]
85 [23]
Sega Mega Drive
Based on
28 reviews

Mega Drive, US
ThunderForce4 MD US Box.jpg
Mega Drive, EU
ThunderForce4 MD EU Box.jpg
Mega Drive, JP
ThunderForce4 MD JP Box.jpg
ThunderForce4 MD JP CartTop.jpg
ThunderForce4 MD JP Cart.jpg
Mega Drive, AU

Mega Drive, KR
ThunderForceIV MD KR cover.jpg
ThunderForceIV MD KR cart.jpg

Technical information

ROM dump status

System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 c8f8c0e0
MD5 bb6b10927e6238206e9a7ba8c7d91a14
SHA-1 ab5bd9ddbfc07d860f44b9c72d098aef2581d1d8
1MB 1992-08 Cartridge (US)
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 e7e3c05b
MD5 66cac77bb663a6951c942b0722232a03
SHA-1 ecbc2bfc4f3d8bbd46b398274ed2f5cc3db68454
1MB 1992-08 Cartridge (EU)
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 8d606480
MD5 c0c59e835ca2cfba29f4c0f5293986f6
SHA-1 44be21dead3b55f21762a7c5cf640eec0a1769d9
1MB 1992-07 Cartridge (JP)


Thunder Force IV
ThunderForceIV MDTitleScreen.png

Main page | Comparisons | Maps | Hidden content | Magazine articles | Promotional material | Region coding

Music: Thunder Force IV (2019)

Thunder Force games for Sega systems / developed by Sega
Sega Mega Drive
Thunder Force II (1989) | Thunder Force III (1990) | Thunder Force IV / Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar (1992)
Thunder Force AC (1990)
Sega Saturn
Thunder Force: Gold Pack 1 (1996) | Thunder Force: Gold Pack 2 (1996) | Thunder Force V (1997)
Sony PlayStation 2
Thunder Force VI (2008)
Nintendo Switch
Sega Ages Thunder Force IV (2018) | Sega Ages Thunder Force AC (TBD)
Thunder Force related media
Best of Thunder Force (1997) | Thunder Force VI Soundtrack Demo (2008)