Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Hawkeye (Commodore 64)

The ZZAP! 64/Thalamus controversy continued with Hawkeye, which was awarded a Gold Medal by the magazine; incorrectly, in the views of many. My mate Reedy bought the game, and we spent a long, long while playing it and enjoying it. If those are any criteria that should count towards a good review, then we'd certainly have given the game very high marks back then.

I wasn't sure I'd think so highly of it now, but then my expectations have changed over the years.

Awww, look at that cute ickle fing! Makes a great noise when it explodes, too.

It was a tricky start... it turned out that I'd completely forgotten how to play this game. And so I piled along as far right as I could go as quickly as I could go, hair flowing in the breeze, synthetic muscles rippling in the sunlight, bullets flying like, well, bullets. And I had to shoot this big dinosaur-type thing. So when it died, why didn't the level end? And why did the dinosaur-type thing come back when I scrolled the screen?

Ooh, I love dinosaurs. But... it's not stopping. Shoot it! Shoot it!

And then I remembered... the game is called Hawkeye, and at the top of the screen are two rather majestic-looking hawks' heads. And when the eye flashes on one of those heads, it's telling you that that's the direction you need to go in to pick up the next of the puzzle pieces need to complete the level. It all came flooding back...

Well, alright... will it take long? I've got a bus to catch in thirty minutes.

Hawkeye, as expected of a Thalamus game, is really well presented, having maybe even more bells and whistles than any of their previous games. There's the Mix-e-load to mess with as the game loads, this time featuring the music of Jeroen Tel; an animated storyteller providing the backstory of the game; and everything is brilliantly set out, with a helpful title sequence letting you know what to expect from the in-game icons. There's even a secret level in there, if you're good enough to unlock it...

Jesus Christ! Look at the size of that flying thing! I'll have to swat it with my laser...

But it also has a pretty damn good game attached to that. Although it's a simple collect'em up at heart, it throws loads of baddies at you as you're running around, which makes it a lot more intense to play than it otherwise might be. That said, you can choose to avoid a lot of the combat, if you wish. Each level, although only one screen in height, is littered with platforms. The majority of the creatures in the game hop and bounce around in such a way that you can often duck underneath them or run straight past them.

Aaahhh... nothing like a quick recharge...

It might seem a bit strange to even want to do that, but your ammunition is limited, although more can be picked up, if you're lucky. More importantly, your energy depletes over the course of a level... it's a kind of time limit, in essence. Again, this can be replenished occasionally, but there's no point in risking losing more than you need to, if you can help it. Especially as, once you get to level four, enemy attack patterns get more complicated and make things even more difficult...

Well, I can't say I was expecting that.

I enjoyed Hawkeye a considerable amount whilst playing it for this. There are times when the shooting action is really frantic, and you have to be quite selective about what you're doing if you want to progress. I wouldn't say it's a thinking man's shoot 'em up, but with a choice of four weapons, each of which is effective in different ways, and this element of having to pick your battles carefully, it keeps you on your toes at all times. It's also a pretty good high score game, and with plenty of levels it's a real challenge. Another high point for the Thalamus catalogue, in my opinion.


  1. Nice to read that you enjoyed our game. Back in '86-87 I did the graphics/level design and the main game ideas for this game.
    See our webpage and FB page, we're working on some new stuff, slowly but surely :-)

    1. Almost 18 months later, I see this reply. And an honour it is, too. I've been busy working on a book rather than this blog... if you're reading this, I'm likely to be in touch at some point regarding that!