Friday 25 September 2015

Star Hawk (Vectrex review)

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Released: 1982

Star Hawk is a first-person space shooter that was first released in the Arcades in 1979.

The game supports 1 or 2 players simultaneously and your mission is to stop alien craft from infiltrating your planet. To do this you need to destroy Bombers, Starships, Missiles and Rockets as they fly towards the screen. You'll also have to shoot down Command Ships that beep when they enter battle; if you do so your gunsight will be larger for five seconds and you'll receive double points for any craft you destroy during this time. Each game only lasts for 60 seconds but every time you score 10,000 points you'll gain an additional 20 seconds. Interestingly there are two different control options; the first allows you to use the joystick to move your sight around and as you stop pushing a direction it will slowly reposition itself to the top of the screen. It feels extremely sensitive and even slight movements make the cursor whiz across the screen. The other option takes advantage of the controller's analog capabilities and once you let go of the joystick the cursor quickly snaps back towards the centre of the screen. It's very jumpy and the lack of smoothness makes it feel like an old LCD handheld game. The gameplay is frantic with a barrage of craft swarming towards you at all times. Your ship can never take damage which takes out a lot of the tension and it's unfortunate that the Command Ship always appears in the same place (i.e. the centre of the screen) so little skill is involved in shooting it down. The game's main issue is that the hit detection is off and many times you'll clearly shoot aircraft and it won't register. It's extremely frustrating not being able to take down enemies as you're relying on shooting them to increase your point total and boost your remaining time. The SFX and graphics are the best features and the pseudo-3D effect and planet scrolling look great.

Star Hawk had the potential to be a fun space shooter but the wonky controls break the whole game as its entire premise is based on being accurate so you don't run out of time in your quest for a high score. As a result it won't take long before you give up and walk away in frustration.

Random trivia: Although it didn't use the license this is the first game to be based around events in the Star Wars movies.

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