I’m a Star Wars fan. If you’re not, you can probably save yourself some time and stop reading right here. There are other games out there that will suit you better. As a Star Wars fan, I got excited the moment I saw the box for Starhawk for the Vectrex. It features a beautifully rendered three dimensional trench that you pilot a your spaceship down. Sound familiar? Perhaps similar to the dramatic conclusion of a certain epic film in which a Death Star was destroyed….for the first time, not the second. Yeah, although the game doesn’t say it, you can pretty much envision yourself as Luke Skywalker barreling down that trench trying to avoid enemies and then shoot an exhaust port to save the day.
Starhawk is an adaptation of a 1979 vector arcade game of the same name. Now, I’ve never played that, so this review will not focus on the accuracy of the translation – merely Starhawk for the Vectrex on its own merits.
And, it does indeed have some impressive merits. Let’s start with the game’s overlay. It is a brilliant shade of orange that adds a fantastic hue to the surface of the planet you’re skimming. The overlay’s upper portion is dark blue, setting a great horizon. This, combined with the game’s great 3D effects really gives you the feeling of hurtling down that trench.
So, we’re off to a very good start. The game has a brief intro tune to get us ready. Then we’re off, shooting down approaching enemies and their missiles. But, what’s this? No need to worry about hitting the sides of the trench? Okay, I’m onboard with that. But, then the game simply ends after 60 seconds. What? Time to read the manual. Okay, the more I shoot down, the more time I get. And, I can even compete against a friend as we shoot down stuff together. But, where’s the epic finale? Where’s the exhaust port I’m supposed to shoot? All this beautiful scenery, and there’s not a great conclusion? There’s not an ultimate goal, aside from shooting down the approaching ships?
I guess ordinarily, in an arcade space shooter, that might be enough. But, here, with such a derivative game, I’m expecting that big conclusion. I want to blow up the Death Star – not merely fly around it shooting at ships. And, the screeching sound of my lasers is making me want to turn the sound off.
So, we have great graphics, okay gameplay, and lousy sound. But the timing aspect seems better suited for a driving game like Pole Position. I want the conclusion of a level, even if that only means advancing to the next more difficult level. I want to shoot that exhaust port. And, since Starhawk didn’t let me, I’m petulantly awarding it only 2 stars out of a possible five.