Thunder Force III (PAL) and the Controversial Sega Megadrive Releases

Thunder-Force-III-PALAs the RetroCollect database continues to grow with the hard working efforts of it's contributors, the occasional title arrives that has not yet been documented or become common knowledge in collectors circles. The PAL version of Thunder Force III is one of those we will now uncover.

For years, the PAL Sega Megadrive release list that has been floating around the Internet has listed approximately 539 PAL releases to look out for. Prior to RetroCollect's launch, this number seemed to become a well known and followed figure with collectors aiming a full 539 title collection.

However as some collectors have begun to find out, there are a rather dubious extra four releases not always counted in these lists and one game which despite being included in this list, is yet to appear.

Lakers Vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs

Lakers-Versus-Celtics-and-the-NBA-PlayoffsLakers Vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs has eluded collectors for years and baffled them. Despite being listed in a few respectable online sources, not one single person has stepped forward with the PAL version of the game to confirm its existence. Like most EA games released for the Megadrive, the yellow tabbed cartridge clearly stated 'For the Sega Genesis' in it's small print. A well known fact that PAL gamers lived with, that the EA games were mass produced and only the box and manual (in most cases) separated the American and European region free releases apart.

RetroCollect believes that the inclusion of this game in many of the existing release lists is due to the various reasons. Firstly that the majority of EA games were released worldwide with the same cartridge. Secondly because the importing scene was at it's peak in the 16-bit era, many gamers wouldn't wait for the PAL version of the next release and got an import from their local indie. And thirdly, because a flimsy (easily disposable) cardboard box version of Lakers vs Celtics was released alongside it's hard shelled variant.

With these facts in mind, our assumption is that a collector working on one of the earliest release lists must have referenced his cartridge only copy of Lakers Vs Celtics that was none other than an imported copy from a thrown away box version, assuming that it was a worldwide cartridge similar to the rest of the EA games. Sound logical, right?

However no claim can be called fact without evidence. While we stand by this current claim that it doesn't exist in PAL format, we would love to be proved wrong and shown a picture (or evidence) of the version in question. Until a collector steps forward, the RetroCollect Database will not be including this 'American' game in the Sega Megadrive release list.

Down to 538 releases then? Not quite, let's continue while the topic of American games is still on our mind...

Tony LaRussa Baseball series and MLBPA Baseball

If we are going to be honest, Baseball never took off in Europe. As far as we were concerned, it was nothing but a glamourised version of Rounders. Football and Rugby have always dominated our continent, while our across the pond friends enjoy an afternoon of Baseball and American Football. Australia however does enjoy a good bit of Baseball too.

Games companies began to latch onto this, EA in particular who saw Australia worthy of bringing a few of their latest Baseball games for release down under. These games were Tony LaRussa Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball 95 and MLBPA Baseball. Released in a rather small print run, EA felt it was not entirely necessary to produce a fresh batch of these games and instead decided to shift over stock of the Sega Genesis versions of the games.

MLBPA-Baseball-AustralianThis however caused a problem for EA. By Australian law, every game released must have the age rating visible on the cover regardless of it being available for all ages. To get round this, EA provided a silver Australian G Sticker (General audiences) on the outside of the box to allow it to be sold. Another fact to note is that the manual also includes information on the final page regarding the Australian warranty.

For collectors though, this is an absolute nightmare. Does a true Sega Megadrive collection really include three Sega Genesis games with a small sticker on the bottom right corner? Is my set incomplete without them? What about games that have been switched cases to a case without the sticker!?

These questions are better answered by yourself. While the RetroCollect database lists these as being PAL Australian releases, it's up to you as a games collector to decide if they make the cut in your games room.

And if you thought that was controversial, let's move onto our star of the show, the 'PAL' version of Thunder Force III.

German Thunder Force III

German-Thunder-Force-III-PALAs far as the majority of release guides go, PAL gamers were treated to Thunder Force II and Thunder Force IV, both fantastic shooters for Sega's 16-bit console. Most guides state Thunder Force III as a US and Japan only release, however after heated discussions and the arrival of evidence, Thunder Force III seems to have been released in Europe after all...

If the baseball games above frustrated you, it is probably best to stop reading as of now.

For whatever reason Sega and/or Technosoft felt it was necessary to also release the game in Germany too. Similar to the Australian baseball games, the release was none other than the American Sega Genesis version, this time with an added manual.

Thunder Force III in Germany was distributed with a 'Deutsch Handbuch' as well as the standard American 'Instruction Manual'. The separate printing of this manual confirms its release in Europe, yet remains a rather questionable and confusing one at that. The game remains exactly the same, with no German language feature added.

Australian Stickers and German Manuals... Yeah right!?

"RetroCollect!? You can't be serious including a PAL release due to a German instruction book!! That's worse than an Australian G sticker..."

As said before, while we list these games, it is up to you how you decide to collect. Our mission with the database is to become the leading information source for retro game collectors. We will constantly be on the look out for visual proof of games and cross reference forum posts, word of mouth and eBay auctions to make sure our information source is the most accurate to date.

As seen here on our entry for Super Mario World, there are 17 different versions/variants of the game available. By no means are we suggesting you need all of them for a full set, our reason for listing them, is so that you can continue to collect the games you love with a decent information source behind you to use as reference.

So should you not include any of these games in your Sega Megadrive set, or any other potentially controversial database entries, keep in mind that it's your collection and your collection alone. But should you be the one holding onto a PAL version of Lakers Vs Celtics, do get in touch!

Last Updated ( 23 April 2012 )  


Better known as Adam offline, Cauterize is one of RetroCollect's final bosses with an unhealthy addiction to pixels. When he's not out searching the web for the latest retro gaming news or creating content for RetroCollect, he'll will most likely be found working on his Sensible Soccer skills.

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(Link to this comment) Darran@Retro Gamer 2010-12-13 00:24
That's really fascinating about Thunder Force III.
(Link to this comment) ashleyescort 2011-11-24 14:15
Lakers Vs Celtics Did Get A PAL Release After All!

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