'''''Thexder''''' is a 1985 video game, the first title ever released by Creator/GameArts. It is possibly one of the most fondly remembered shooters of the [[TheEighties 1980s]].

The game's premise is fairly simple: the player takes control of a "[[TransformingMecha hyper dual armor]]" and has to find his (or her) way through, depending on the version, either ten or sixteen levels of enemy-filled mazes, eventually reaching the facility's power core. Thexder's only weapon is an [[FrickinLaserBeams auto-targeting laser]] (at least, auto-targeting in mech form); its only defense is a short-lived [[DeflectorShields defensive]] [[SomeKindOfForceField barrier]]. Both the laser and the shield draw on Thexder's [[LifeMeter limited power supply]], which is drained even faster by [[CollisionDamage enemies running into you]] - and there are a [[GoddamnedBats ton of them]].

Fortunately, there were ways to [[HeartContainer increase]] and [[HealThyself replenish]] Thexder's energy reserves - primarily by killing the right enemies.

Originally released in Japan for NEC's 8-bit computer, the [[PC88 PC-8801mkIISR]], ''Thexder'' became a smash hit and Game Arts responded by porting it to other computers, including the {{MSX}}. The then-obscure company [[Creator/SquareEnix Squaresoft]] took note, licensing ''Thexder'' for a port to the [[{{NES}} Famicom]], their very first game for Creator/{{Nintendo}}; [[Creator/{{Sierra}} Sierra On-Line]] also took an interest, and was responsible for the rest of the world finding out about this [[WidgetSeries pleasantly unique Japanese game]]. (Sierra advertised ''Thexder'' as an "arcade game" though it never appeared in arcades; Sierra also misleadingly claimed that the game was "created for second-generation computers with 16-bit processors.")

Four years after the original release, Game Arts returned to their debut title with ''[[OddlyNamedSequel Fire Hawk: Thexder the Second Contact]]'', expanding on the original game's story ([[AllThereInTheManual not that there was much of one]]) and improving the character's choice of weapons, while simultaneously upping the ante with more missions, more enemies, and plenty of [[BossBattle bosses]] along the way. Sierra On-Line also distributed this sequel.

Given ''Thexder'''s popularity, Sierra On-Line decided to make their own spin-off for Windows 95, informally called "Thexder 95," without Game Arts's involvement. With the rise of [[{{Retraux}} retro remakes]], though, Square Enix shepherded the {{remake}} ''Thexder Neo'' to market as a downloadable game for the [[PlayStationPortable PSP]], resurrecting Thexder for a new generation of gamers to discover.

The ''Thexder'' games provide examples of:
* AllThereInTheManual:
** The original ''Thexder'' put you at the start of the first level's labyrinth and never explained who you were or what you were supposed to do, unless you looked at the manual, and there was scant explanation as to "why" (none at all in the American PC release). Only when ''Fire Hawk'' came out did the story behind Thexder's mission get explained.
** The US release also included a complete walkthrough of the game's first level, with pictures/names of (almost) every enemy appearing in the game.
** ''Fire Hawk'''s manual also included brief descriptions of each mission area, including equally brief descriptions of each boss.
** ''Fire Hawk'' also includes a manga establishing the backstory inside its manual, since the in-game opening cutscenes were not included in the US release.
* AttackItsWeakPoint - Every single boss in ''Fire Hawk'' could only be damaged by hitting a specific spot. Most of them were obvious. [[GuideDangIt At least one wasn't.]]
* AttentionDeficitOohShiny: Your auto-targetting laser divides its firepower between all targets onscreen -- including ones that are hidden or behind walls -- so it's entirely possible to be attacking a swarm of enemies when suddenly your laser tries to burn a hole in the floor. Homing missiles in ''Fire Hawk'' have a similar behavior, with your target lock focusing on the nearest onscreen enemy.
* BadExportForYou: While the US version of ''Fire Hawk'' does not suffer any loss in its graphics or gameplay, it does excise the in-game cutscenes that bookend the gameplay. The game's backstory manga is included in the game's manual, but only small references to it remain in-game.
* BossBattle - The original game occasionally presented the player with a group of enemies encased in stationary fortifications, challenging the player to figure out the best way to destroy or disable the enemies in order to pass. ''Actual'' bosses were introduced in ''Fire Hawk''.
** Zereo also added precisely one boss (a final boss) to ''Thexder Neo''.
* CastFromHitPoints - Firing the laser or activating the shield costs energy. Given that getting hit costs ''more'' energy, wise use of the shield is a necessity; unwise use would leave you too low on power to survive.
** In ''Fire Hawk'', even ''moving'' required energy, though such a small amount that it was rarely noticeable.
** ''Thexder 95'' was the exception, the unfortunate side effect being that it was possible to run out of ammunition for any weapon including the default laser.
* ChestMonster - Mission 5 in ''Fire Hawk'' featured enemies disguised as Energy Generators; they could be distinguished by your homing missiles identifying them as targets. An area in Mission 6 has a section with ''a lot'' of enemies disguised as ordinary walls, and you're specifically warned to be careful when you use your laser lest you wake them up. Again, they can be identified by switching to your homing missiles and watching for targetting icons.
** Also note that even stationary, energy-restoring enemies are still ''enemies'', and will inflict CollisionDamage if you land on top of them. There are even a few energy-restoring enemies that move around (rather quickly, too).
* CollisionDamage - The only way to receive damage in the original, as enemies didn't begin firing actual projectiles until ''Fire Hawk'', and even then they were a strict minority, if not a boss outright.
* CutAndPasteEnvironments: In the PC original, levels 9 and 11 were ''exactly the same'' save for which enemy sprites were used. The second set of cavern levels (13 through 15) had similar layouts to the first set (5 through 7), but with some retooling to increase their difficulty.
* CopyProtection - The US release of ''Fire Hawk'' required players to input a specific word from the manual when starting a game.
* CrowningMusicOfAwesome - The original Thexder [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgfTVNU--6k background music]] is still fondly remembered - despite being the ''only'' music in the game except for the (slightly different) opening and the Moonlight Sonata. ''Fire Hawk'' gave you different songs for each mission (especially the tune for Mission 8); ''Thexder Neo'' started by remastering the original theme, then made more tracks.
* DeflectorShields - Thexder's (and Fire Hawk's) only defense if anything gets close enough to cause damage. Its [[SomeKindOfForceField exact nature]] is never explained.
* DifficultySpike - Level 1 was populated with swarms of {{One Hit Point Wonder}} Red Tribars, and other enemies fought in small groups at a time. Level 2 ambushed the player with a swarm of ''two dozen'' enemies in a wide open space.
* DownerEnding - [[spoiler: According to ''Fire Hawk'', both Thexder and its pilot were destroyed.]]
* EndlessGame - The U.S. release of the first game wrapped back to level 2 after finishing the final level, continuing until the player either gave up or died.
* FrickinLaserBeams - Thexder's only weapon, and Fire Hawk's main one. One of very few games to give the ''player'' the laser (and an ''instantaneous'' laser, as opposed to a PainfullySlowProjectile).
* GoddamnedBats: Enemies had a variety of movement patterns, but the vast majority were swift, diagonally-flying foes who rarely appeared in groups of less than 4 at a time. In the first game, if you were unlucky enough to become surrounded by several enemies, the CollisionDamage would be multipled ''per enemy'', and this would usually be fatal. The only safe way to engage multiple foes was to retreat into a tunnel (trap them against the terrain, etc.) and slowly take them out one at a time with the jet mode laser.
** Black Tribars may qualify as DemonicSpiders, considering the DifficultySpike they presented to the player in the original's second level.
** Mission 4 in ''Fire Hawk'' sees the introduction of enemies that fly horizontally and vertically, which may catch the player off-guard once they're used to taking out the diagonally-flying ones.
* HeartContainer - In ''Thexder,'' destroying certain enemies and finishing a level would raise your maximum energy reserves. ''Fire Hawk'' played this more literally, requiring you to find "Energy Generators" which did the same thing.
* KillItWithFire - ''Fire Hawk'''s napalm bombs were the strongest special weapon, able to eradicate almost any ground-based enemy (including bosses) in a single blast.
* MechaMooks - Virtually all enemies are mechanical in some form.
* MostAnnoyingSound - When the shield ran down or Thexder's energy was low. The latter usually meant "you're doomed".
* NintendoHard - [[NostalgiaFilter Oddly enough]], it's remembered ''fondly'' for this, despite that the original featured no save points, extra lives or continues.
* NostalgiaLevel - The opening of mission 2 in ''Fire Hawk'' echoes about half the first level from the original.
* OffscreenInertia: Generally, the moment an enemy is offscreen they cease moving or pursuing the player; this is often a viable method to break up a swarm into smaller groups that are easier to deal with. Note that in the original this only applied to the left and right sides of the screen, while in ''Fire Hawk'' it applies to all four borders. Also note that Fire Hawk's bosses continue to move through their attack patterns while offscreen.
* PublicDomainSoundtrack - ''Thexder'' is famous for its inclusion of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata". ''Thexder Neo'' pays homage to this, if you know where to look.
* ReactorBoss - ''Thexder'' may have been the first of these; ''Thexder Neo'' made it [[LoadBearingBoss explicit]], twenty-four years later. ''Fire Hawk'' gave you a couple (every mission related to either crippling Nediam's systems or clearing the way ahead).
* {{Remake}} - ''Thexder Neo'', a 2.5D recreation of the original with polygon graphics and a completely redesigned Thexder ... and a few subtle changes to the difficulty curve (most notably, the ability to retry the current level after dying).
* TookALevelInBadass: While originals still appear, the ''Fire Hawk'' mecha is an upgraded version of the original Thexder prototype, featuring a redesigned flight mode, a supply of homing missiles, and a satellite for storing additional weapons.
* TragicMonster - [[spoiler: Nediam]], though the reasons why are explained in the Japanese original only.
* TransformingMecha - The original (and remade) Thexder and Fire Hawk could change between mech (humanoid) and cruiser (flying) modes at will. (Thexder 95 didn't let you transform until later in the game, although it added a land-cruiser mode.)
* TrialAndErrorGameplay - The original ''Thexder'' had no continues, so you were on your own to remember which enemies would restore energy, where to find them, and how to gun down enemies without taking too much harm in the process. ''Fire Hawk'' and ''Thexder Neo'''s easy mode were more forgiving.
* VideogameFlight - Transforming into a jet allows you to fly in any direction with no restrictions. This is balanced by generally claustrophobic level design, wide open areas filled with ''swarms'' of enemies, and the auto-aiming function restricted to humanoid form. (Hint: Don't [[LeeeroyJenkins blindly rush in]] to any wide-open spaces. '''Ever.''')
* ZergRush: The tactic of choice for most enemies. Sure, red Tribars may be a OneHitpointWonder, but can you survive a swarm of 20 closing in on you?