Starhawk
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4  |  Stardud
Darryl B. , 10/2/2005 11:51:50 PM

I have fond memories of playing Starhawk during the arcade boom of the late 70s (fueled by a certain obscure little game known as Space Invaders that started the craze), manically moving and firing the joystick towards a bunch of spaceships that flew across the screen, only to blow up in a splintering of a black and white vector explosion. Sure, all you did was blow up ships left and right, but it was still a lot of fun! I didn't play every SINGLE vector game ever made, but I liked pretty much every one I ran across, from the earliest ones of Space Wars and Starhawk to the last wave of ones that were ever made of Black Widow and Major Havoc.

In Starhawk, it appears that your spaceship is hovering in orbit over some kind of a space station or something as you're free to blast away at any ships that are unfortunate enough to meet your target crosshairs (and a shot from your laser when you press the fire button). Dunno if this is some sort of a military training exercise and you're firing at drones, or if you're committing mass murder by firing at ships that are harmless and don't even exchange fire with you, but that's pretty much the whole game, you're just playing against a timer to try to beat your highest score. THE only adversary you have is a ship that appears in the upper right hand corner, deducting 800 points if you don't shoot it fast enough, and that's it. The sound effects, controls, and graphics were also very cool (even though in black in white), as all of the ships had a different design as well.

So, once the unique vector system of the Vectrex came out, I played it in stores until the crash hit, then I bought one for $50, and, with the arcade favorite of Starhawk being ported to the system (the only port ever for the game, I'm pretty sure), I naturally bought that as well for only ten bucks.

Oh boy. A big, disappointing surprise followed after that. The reason? There's a BIG difference in between being a poor broke kid that could only afford to toss in a quarter or token here and there into a game, rather than playing it for an hour straight.

Ugh. I never realized that several games of this game straight are MONDO boring. This game actually deserves to get a grade of an 8 or a 9, due to being an almost exact port of the original (while subtracting a point or two, due to the Vectrex' small screen), but when the source material wasn't very good in the first place...

So, after an hour of playing and getting bored already, I invited a friend over that also had a Vectrex, and told him to bring his controller along to see if having a second player helped out the game any. Nope, still boring, and things got even WORSE: for some reason, when two players are playing (which it's simultaneous play, no awaiting turns here), a grinding noise could be heard. What the heck? Was this some hardware problem that the Vectrex could barely keep up with two cursors moving around the screen at once? Was this corrected in a later version? Dunno, but the gaming "experience" (if that's what you want to call it...a blah experience) didn't get any better.

So, I was lucky to be able to get my money back on that piece of crap...well, aside from the fact that Vectrex game cartridges were held together by only a single screw, which I took it apart, flipped the board over, stuck it in my Vectrex, and behold, it didn't work. So that's what I told Foley's the problem was (well, it didn't work, after all); heh. (Yes, I was young and stupid then.)

So that sucks, since I still enjoy an occasional game of Starhawk on MAME, even though that version doesn't have any sound. But my copy for my Vectrex is long gone.

Maybe this should have received the less fierce name of "Starsparrow", or "Stardodo", especially since only one button per Vectrex controller pad needed to be used for firing, which any of the other buttons could have been used as a pause feature. Feh.

Even though I love my Vectrex, sometimes the people at the GCE company were total birdbrains (heh). 4/10

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