95: Captain Skyhawk

Genre: Shooter

Developer: Rare
Publisher: Milton Bradley
Year: 1990

Basic Idea:  Destroy aliens in your plane from both top-down and first-person perspectives, while occasionally dropping supplies and saving scientists.

Review: Even back in the NES days, Rare usually pushed boundaries with whatever genre it was tackling.  This time, they spruce up the standard plane shooter by making the environment three dimensional.  Because of this, your altitude matters in the top-down perspective.  Maneuvering the plane in and around valleys is quite trippy.  Also, this game has one of the better first-person plane environments (interludes between levels mostly to gain points) for the NES as well.  Control is fluid and responsive.

However, it’s not the best top-down shooter for the NES for a few reasons.  First, the difficulty is not as gradual as I would have liked.  While I can get past the first stage without dying, it still requires intense focus to do so.  While it’s not too difficult determining your plane’s altitude, determining the altitude of your enemies is nearly impossible.  Second, between each stage you must dock at the space station where you can upgrade your weapons.  While this is fairly simple, you can lose lives by making a tiny mistake in this pointless part of the game.  To make matters worse, half of the weapon upgrades are mostly useless as well.

That said, it’s worth playing at least once.  Even better, use a game genie and give yourself infinite lives to experience the game in its entirety without the frustration.

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4 thoughts on “95: Captain Skyhawk

  1. I was going to make a comment that I’d never played, nor even heard of this game, but that the stupid “die while docking” section sounded exactly like a game whose name I had forgotten that I played at a friend’s house a long time ago.

    So yeah, that was this game. Never mind.

    I agree. Lots of cool gameplay, but seriously fuck the docking sequence.

      • Well, that’s true, but that whole game crap. This one was a lot of fun once you got the hang of it, but the docking sequence is just completely punching you in the face out of nowhere. It’s like if the slot machine in SMB2 cost you lives if you didn’t get any cherries.

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