I absolutely love the arcade game Star Force. I've always loved it. I used to play the arcade machine whenever I got an opportunity, whether that was on trips to the seaside or when one of the local taxi offices got a machine in. It's a great, vertically-scrolling spacey shoot 'em up that still provides a massive challenge to this day.
I'd always wanted a conversion of it for my Commodore 64, but that was never likely. So when I saw a game called Warhawk on the shelves, and from the shots on the back of the box it looked like Star Force, I bought it instantly.
Mine! Mine! Mine!
I wasn't disappointed. It was obviously massively inspired by my beloved arcade machine. And although it lacked the polish of Star Force and obviously wasn't as good to play, it still scratched the itch more than satisfactorily. I had a really great time with it back then.
And so, I decided to play it today.
At first, this time, I was disappointed. It didn't feel that good to play at all. But after a few games I got back into it, and it all came flooding back. The Star Force-inspired enemy ships and attack patterns, the belting Rob Hubbard music, the difficulty...
I'm feeling a little blue. That pick-up will pick me up...
Yep, Warhawk is pretty difficult to start with. You only get one life, but you do get an energy supply. If you can see out the level intact, this is replenished. The problem is, every enemy fires bloody homing bullets. Every single projectile flies at you like your ship is some kind of intergalactic bullet magnet. So you have to be constantly on your toes, always moving around the screen, which means you're very likely to fly straight into a new attack wave.
Make it to the end and it all goes quiet. And then, rather than being attacked by a boss ship, lots of little ones kamikaze their way onto the screen, again homing right in on your ship. It's like the boss ship is off-screen, and he's just chucked a load of toys at you. If you've got enough energy left, you should be OK. If not, and luck isn't on your side, expect your game to come to an end.
One to one problem, yes. Five to one problem, too much ask anybody.
You do get help, eventually. Once you get a couple of levels in then, much like Star Force, a pod moves down the screen. If you shoot it, a capsule is released which, if you manage to pick it up, gives you a fast autofire. You definitely breather a little more easily once you've got this, because hammering away on your fire button causes you a world of hurt after a while.
It has to be said that Warhawk is pretty repetitive, and nowhere near as good as the game that inspired it. But at the time, it did exactly what was required of it, and is a really good budget game. I've certainly enjoyed playing it again for the first time in years.