Title : Captain Skyhawk
Publisher : Milton Bradley
Genre : Scrolling Shooter
Players : 1 Player
Release Date : 1990
Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $2-$4
Here is one of those NES classics that I think everyone had played at some point in their young gamer careers. Yes, that's right I said careers. Gaming is our job, isn't it? Don't tell my wife that, she gets annoyed enough as it is. Hell, the only reason she tolerates the games I play all the time is because I technically use it for "research".
Sssh..don't tell her I have a hell of a lot of fun doing this as well. Sorry, side tracked.
Anyway, Captain Skyhawk had been a game that I must have rented from good 'ol RKO video at least a dozen times. Unfortunately, I remember all too well that I was never able to beat this game. It was pretty damn hard, and it didn't help that it took me awhile to get used to piloting a plane through a top down, 3D isometric field of view a la Marble Madness (not a good comparison considering this is a flight game, but you get my drift). It's probably the closest thing you'll get to a PC flight simulator of the late 80's early 90's...besides not being able to stop. Once you get used to it though, the game actually becomes quite addictive.
Take on the role of Captain Skyhawk, and prepare yourself to fend off an alien invasion in this arcade-styled shooting classic for the, NES. Let's do this.
The moment you're thrust into this game, you'll learn that one major factor. This game is FAST. First of all, you're in a jet, so that's fast enough as it is, but the screen is scrolling toward you as such an alarming rate you barely have a chance to react to what's coming at you in the screen. Enemies fly at you from every direction, and they're either firing at you from the ground or darting toward you in the air,
Hell, the only time the level even stops moving is when you get to the and and you have to face the boss. Which is just as annoying considering you barely have any room to move around and avoid its fire.
Be ready to spam the fire button and bombing button, because that's all you're going to be doing. A moments hesitation, and you're dust. One other thing you'll learn from this game, is that requires a lot of patience as you'll be playing over levels a lot. The fact of the matter is, most levels you won't be able to beat until you memorize what's coming ahead of you. The first time you play, you're clueless. After a few times repeating a level (due to incessant dying), you'll pretty much be flying your craft on muscle memory.
It's not even a bad thing either, it's actually quite fun. Frustrating and fun. Interesting combo.
The game has around eight levels, with the main level being the isometric flight path, and the second part of the level being a behind the back view of your plane bonus round. I call it a bonus round, because you really only blow up these ships to earn money to buy more equipment and upgrades.
Let me talk about the levels first, before I get into the armaments. The interesting feature regarding the levels, is that there are multiple paths you an actually take. It's entirely dependent on where you steer your aircraft during the scrolling process. Some paths allow you to avoid huge masses of enemies, but they may prove to me more difficult to steer around obstacles. Use your best judgement, and your repetition of playing each level will come into play here.
The bonus level just irritates me. Reminds me to much of the either flight games on the NES, and it seems to be just ripped straight from them. If there's one thing that irks me about this game, it's those damn levels. They're not needed at all.
As for weapons, you have your standard flare guns and bombs, but also specialized missiles to help clear large masses of enemies at once. Use these to your advantage, and stock up on each level as they will save your arse on many occasion.
Despite getting used to the visuals of this game, and controlling a plane non-stop through an isometric view, this game is a hell of a lot of fun. It's fast paced, and difficult to a point that it poses a challenge throughout. You may get lucky and be able to beat levels on the first shot (I was able to , but damn was it hard), but a lot of it comes with learning the levels and what's coming at you.
Do yourself a favor, give this game a shot if you haven't done so already, as its actually one of the best shooters you're going to find on the NES. Just get a tissue box ready. you're going to cry a lot.
Final Score (out of 5) :
Until next time. Keep on gaming!