Captain Skyhawk

Reviewed by Brian McLean and Aurang

Player 1

General opinion:
"This game is pish!"

By Brian McLean

Captain Skyhawk is a game that was just doomed from the start. Piss-poor graphics, drab level design, useless weapon upgrades and ~the~ number one cliched storyline (Stop the alien invasion!) make this game nothing short of breathtaking in its patheticness.

There is no intro to speak of in this game, quite possibly because there's no plot either. Yes, I know, shmups aren't required to have a good story. But this one doesn't even try. All you know is you're supposed to blow up stuff, pick up a few scientists along the way to build a big gun, and then destroy the alien invasion. Which takes us to the various missions...

Missions 1, 3, 5, 7 - Destroy Enemy Base. Basically, you fly through the level and once you get to the end you've got this diamond with domes at each point, and another dome in the center. If you get in front of any of these, they will shoot at you, otherwise you just sit and stare at each other. As you progress the cannons fire a bit faster, but it is still a pretty mindless fight. In missions 3 and 7 the action is considerably faster, and your plane flies at breakneck speed through the level until you've died once.

Missions 2, 6 - Drop Off Supplies. For whatever reason, you must fly through these levels and at two marked locations you drop supplies out of your plane like a bomb, trying to hit a hole in the ground. Vaguely interesting is that if you miss, the level loops until you get it right. So if you're looking for points or credits, this is probably the easiest route.

Missions 4, 8 - Pick Up Scientist. These are amazingly similar to all the odd-numbered levels, except in this case when you get to the end, you see the scientist being held prisoner by... Four pyramids with cannons on them! Oh, the horror! Destroy them just as you destroy the bases, then blow up the pyramid-like cage the scientist is in and you're done here.

Mission 8 (Part 3) - Destroy Alien Mothership. A very bland game ends with an equally bland final boss, a big red mass of missile launchers on stalks. Just destroy all the outer eyes (One shot kills each one), then the central one opens up, and the attack is exactly the same! 15-20 shots into the middle eye and you've completed the game. No ending, either... You get a quick "Congratulations - Alien Invasion Destroyed" message on the mission screen, then Game Over. Truly pathetic.

Each mission has three parts actually, and except for the final mission the second and third parts of each mission are the same. After the first bit (what I detailed above), you have to survive about 30 planes in a Top Gun (or Afterburner) type of plane shooter. As you go through the game, the enemy planes go from firing no missiles at all to more or less every one getting a shot off on you before you take them down. Even so the enemies only come out of six places or so, and the missiles are easily avoided.

Part three is rather simple, you simply fly back up into space and have to dock with your station. It rotates, so you have to time your approach to match the station's speed, or you'll crash into the side. Really, that's making it more complex than it is. Fly up level with the entrance, and hit the dock button when the rotating station lines up with your plane. Simple as that. Once you dock, you get the chance to spend credits you've picked up along the way for upgrades to your plane. You can buy two types of missiles and some bombs, but I find them totally unnecessary. Just worry about your cannon. 40 credits (which you should have in two missions) will take you to level 5, and you can take the rest of the game in automatic. =)

One of the most frustrating things about this game is despite small changes in the play, it all seems so very much the same. The enemies are amazingly similar, in fact it seems like all they did to change them around was to switch the sprite and change how they moved a bit. All their shots are the same, unfortunately. The scenery is amazingly similar as well, and almost unbelievably bland throughout. Simple pyramids with a stick make up trees (nevermind that they're the same color as the ground under them), and the whole battlefield is essentially a grid with a few areas elevated so you can't go absolutely everywhere.

The sound in this game is fairly laughable as well. Music is totally nonexistent while you're actually playing, and the few simple ditties during the screens in between do little to satisfy. The sound effects fare a touch better, but not much. Your engine, your gun firing, the sound of your bullets hitting stuff, and the sound of the enemy firing back are going to be 90% of what you hear. The other 10% is comprised of the sound the planes make as they pass you by in part two of each mission.

The actual control of the plane is passable, but nothing to write home about. You can change your altitude, which seems totally pointless because you can hit ground targets from anywhere. So crank it up to the maximum and you'll have a few less obstacles to deal with. Otherwise, the steering of the plane is easy enough.

Are you turned off yet? Would you like some more? =) This is perhaps a bit nitpicky, but you ~never~ see the cannon you spent 8 missions getting together in action! Once both halves are ready (Thanks to the scientists you rescued), all that's left is one final plane fight and then the mothership battle. But you still just use your regular gun for both of those. It just leaves you feeling like you could have saved 30 minutes or so getting to the end just by taking on the mothership from the start.

All this is not to say the game is a total abomination. I have seen worse efforts, although this is coming pretty close. Despite it all, the game is actually somewhat fun to play about halfway through, and then the monotony of it all just ruins it. It's certainly not worth any amount of cash for the cartridge except to the most die-hard collector that ~has~ to have one. There are far better NES shmups to play. The true shame, I think, is knowing that Rare had a hand in this mess, even though they usually cranked out much, much better titles then (Battletoads, anyone?), and they still do now. This is just an ugly blemish on their track record.

- Brian

Brian didn't gave a score to game, so I refrain of putting any number here, unless Brian tells me to.



Player 2

General opinion:
"This game rules!"

By Aurang


Everybody is entitled to their opinion, least of all me!  So I'll give it to you .  I truly love this game...not because it's all serious "I am the earth's last hope" type gungho game but because it is corny and whacky.  The game is a blast to play in my humble opinion, its like one of those over the top B movies that I just love for some reason.  Actually when Captain Skyhawk was originaly released it had the best graphics available for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  Not to mention it had a style so uniqe that Layer Selection 2 was the only game that ever really duplicated its style.  And as for music...pshht...who needs in-game stuff...hell its not really an issue for me on the NES, since the last NES game I reviewed got 9/10 and it only had one in-game BGM.

In my book, a 9/10 NES Shmup dont get any better than this :-)

Of course I like to review Shmups as comparing them to the system's potential and the other games in the same catagory.  Thats why I gave Macross NES high marks...and why I'll do it with this one and continue to do with other Shmups.

Note to Brian...dont expect much from NES games nowdays, cause you'll get a whole lot less.

Anybody who has ever seen the box to this game can attest to its wackyness.  He He He...geez, even the box was wacky...hahahaha...GOD I LOVED THAT GAME!!!

c ya later aviator

- Aurang -

SCORE: 9/10

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NOTE: The captions below, were created by Brian. Hence the bashing =)

This is what a base looks like. It's hardly a threat if you simply weave left and right and keep firing. In fact, they're all like that. Don't get so jaded or you get killed, though.

A screenshot of the plane section of each mission, complete with exceedingly dull background and up to a whopping two planes on the screen at once (not including yours) =). The way the sight is set up occasionally makes it difficult to tell exactly where you are firing, but once you get a level 5 cannon that hardly matters.

The space station you have to dock with at the end of each level. Another fairly boring and easy affair, although if you're not paying attention it's still possible to lose a life.

Once inside the station, you can buy/upgrade your weaponry, although again the only upgrade I can recommend is the cannon. If you're not too wasteful with the missiles and bombs it should be no difficulty to have maxed out your ordinance racks and cannon and have the maximum credits (99) in reserve in 5 missions or so.

You'll have to hit these fairly well-marked drop zones in missions 2 and 6. A split second before the time the tip of your plane's nose touches the bottom of the drop zone is the best time to let your payload go (assuming max. altitude).

The mission screen, which displays the number of bases operational and how far along you are towards completing the 'secret weapon'. Also on this screen you can find out what you're supposed to do next in three words or so. =)

This is the first of two scientists you'll have to pick up. Is it sinking in yet how simplistic the graphics are? At any rate, this is just like a base battle, just in a slightly different formation.

After all the monotony, finally something shows through! There are mines in the water in mission 8! And they're nasty buggers too, even at maximum altitude their blasts can reach you. Just hug the walls as much as you can to avoid them, since trying to get a shot off before they explode is very chancy, and almost always fatal if you fail.

But after a glimmer of hope, we're soon back to the boring boss battle, which you will note is identical to the first scientist pickup. Actually putting down strategies for winning these batlles seems like a waste of typing.

The final battle with the enemy space station. The missiles it shoots are actually somewhat difficult to dodge if you're not paying attention, but with a maxed out cannon you should be heavily damaging it with each sweep you make across the screen. When the central eye opens, just stay in the middle and fire away.

Good one! A bashing review! Not all reviews here have to be about a game that rates high, we like to see reviews about games that suck =) Actually, I found Captain Skyhawk quite funny, but that's just me and my tastes. I love weird, crap games =) Good review Brian! And we have Aurang's totally opposite view on the game. Heh, I like this simultaneous two-players reviews =)

- Akira


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