This is StarHawk, a gameboy game released in 1992 by Accolade and developed by NMS Software. The game only came out in Europe as far as I can tell, it was scheduled to be released in America but got cancelled at the last minute.
From the title screen you can choose to play the game in Normal or Hard, change the amount of lives or enter a password to return to the last stage you played. hard mode adds more enemies and different patterns which actually makes the game more fun to play. But I’ll get back to that in a bit…
The game it’s self is a basic horizontal scrolling shooter with a few neat gimmicks. As you can see, the graphics look really nice for the gameboy, but almost straight away you’ll bump into the first problem. The hit box for the ship is huge, making it very easy to crash into the walls when you’re trying to dodge enemies. Most games have the hotbox of the ship a bit smaller, but in this it takes up the whole area of the sprite which takes a bit of getting used to…
The outlines on the player and enemies makes the game easy to play on the original gameboy screen, and helps you differentiate something moving from the background. Of course, playing it on the Super Gameboy or Gameboy advance removes this issue entirely but it’s good to see they thought of this anyway.
There’s a simple power up system in place which includes several different weapons which also change the look of the ship. As well as a separate power meter which goes from 1 – 6. Each time you get hit this number reduces and if it reaches 0 then you begin he level again back at basic power. Which makes it very difficult in later levels if you get hit as the enemies begin to take more and more hits before they die!
My favourite power is the one which fires bouncing balls. There’s also a weapon that can go through enemies and a homing later you get later on which is great but makes it a bit bit too easy at times! There’s also a shelf you can pick up which spins around the ship.
The game does include an auto fire but unfortunately it’s not as fast as mashing the button yourself so expect to be playing most of the game like this and take breaks else you’ll get cramp like I did!
As I mentioned earlier, Hard mode adds more enemies and changes up the placement of powers. Some of the levels when playing on normal have big areas with nothing at all happening, so I do recommend playing on hard just to reduce the downtime between sections of enemies.
There’s 5 levels in the game, the second level really surprised me with it’s amazing parallax scrolling! It’s not very often a Gameboy games makes me say “WOW” out loud… I was very impressed to say the least! It also repeats this graphic style in level 4 with a cave setting. Unfortunately, in these stages you can’t interact at all with the backgrounds, so even though it’s in a cave you can go through the walls without getting hurt. This is in contrast to the other stages in which if you hit the floor or ceiling you are instantly killed. This makes it a bit hard to know when you can or can not touch the walls and is a bit confusing to begin with! After a few plays you get used to it though!
The boss fights at the end of the stage are all quite interesting and have certain weak points which have to be shot in a certain order, I found it fun figuring out their patterns and finding the weak spots. They also look quite cool too!
Overall the game is really good, maybe not worth the crazy prices it’s going for, but if you do manage to find a copy for a reasonable price, I’d snap it up straight away! I’m glad I did! And I’m happy to have it in my gameboy collection!
– [ ] Amazing graphics.
– [ ] Outlines on player and enemies makes it easy ti see on the Gameboy screen
– [ ] Classic shoot em up gameplay with no real surprises
– [ ] power-up system
– [ ] Begin easy and gets a lot harder
– [ ] Interesting bosses with different weak points
– [ ] Rewards multiple plays to memorise enemy patterns
– [ ] Amazing scrolling in level 2 and 4
– [ ] Catchy music
– [ ] Slow moving – could be faster
– [ ] Hit box is too big
– [ ] Not much variety in gameplay or enemies
– [ ] Only 5 levels
– [ ] Though the environments look nice they have no bearing on the gameplay at all (Show cave level but you can move all around the screen and not hit anything)
– [ ] Autofire is too slow
– [ ] Get cramps from mashing the fire button
– [ ] Enemies in later levels take way too many hits with basic weapons
– [ ] Big gaps in some levels with nothing to do
Thanks for watching!
My game, Super Donuts is out now on IOS: