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Dino Action Plug 'n Play

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Power Rangers Dino Thunder "Dino Action Plug ‘n Play" or "Thunder Action Video Game System" as it is also called was made in 2004 by ToyQest under their N-Vision label. As the name already implies it is a plug and play system made for the TV show of the same name. The system consists of a console and a detachable gun called Thundermax Saber. The gun is called that way, because it can be transformed into a saber. The same gun was also used in the Japanese series Abarangers on which Dino Thunder is based of. In Abarager the gun is called Aba Laser. The Japanease however, never received a port of this light gun game.

The main system has an on/off switch, a reset button and a start button. It is powered by four AA cells. The image is transmitted over composite video. The gun plugs into the system via DA-15 plug just like Nintendo Famicom controllers.

The gun itself feels surprisingly flimsy. Sadly the gun lacks sights which makes aiming somewhat difficult. The trigger lacks tactility and is rattly. On the back of the handle is a button which is used to pick up bonus items in the game. The gun has two lock buttons which are supposed to hold the hinges in place to lock the Thundermax Saber in either its gun or knife configuration. Sadly these locks do a poor job and the knife easily folds back to a gun when swinging it. I ended up pressing down the hinge with my thumb and just swinging the saber outside of its folding axis.

In the story of the game an evil paleontologist unleashes so called Dino Zords to cause trouble. A former Power Ranger recruits some high school students as new Rangers to fight the Zords. The player takes the role of the new red ranger.

When starting the game one of five difficulty degrees can be selected. The game consists of just five levels. Three of these are gun levels and two are sword levels. If all levels are beaten the game loops back to the first level using the next difficulty. Beating all levels in the highest difficulty loops back to the easiest difficulty setting rather than ending the game. If the player dies, unlimited continues let the player try again. The gun is reloaded by shooting off screen. The score is monitored in a scoreboard.

The first level takes place in the streets. The second level is a swordfight in the mountains. Next comes a desert level. The second sword level takes place in the forest. The final level seems to take place in hell.

In the final level the game seems having trouble to detect shots for some reason. Speaking of shot detection: The system uses the same principle as the NES did: upon shooting the screen turns black and then one by one shows frames with just a single white target. If the gun senses light during such a frame the game knows where the gun is aiming at and reacts accordingly. As for the similarities to the Zapper I opened the Thundermax Saber to check out compatibility. Basically the gun uses the same light sensing circuit many Famiclone guns are using and which I presented in episode 98. Therefore I propose this adapter which should work fine, but honestly I don't know why anybody would want to use this gun outside of this plug and play game. Having the gun open I can show you the motion sensor which consists of a spring.

In the game there is an option to turn off the sound, which is somewhat ironic as most of the noise is generated by the unintentional rattling of the gun. Personally I don't like the game. A single piece of music is used for every level and the animations could have used more frames, but this isn't what spoils the game for me. The bread and butter of a light gun game is the gun and in this case the build quality just seems insufficient.

I enjoy the box design. The game is well represented by the screen shots and the see through window allows a view onto the gun. I think the gel heavy hair style of the child is very amusing.