Retail Price: £7.95
Author: Dominic Robinson and John Cumming of Graftgold
In Firebird's latest Taito coin-op conversion, the player gets the chance to take to the skies in the Flying Shark, a World War II biplane, and fly a solo mission into enemy territory.
The action is played over a vertically scrolling backdrop, with squadrons of enemy fighters flying into attack from the top of the screen. The ground is littered with gun emplacements, and tanks and ships attempt to blast you out of the sky with a volley of well-aimed shots.
The Flying Shark is equipped with a double-barrelled gun and an unlimited supply of ammunition to blast the enemy. The firepower is increased when the floating symbol dropped occasionally by the last aeroplane in a squadron is collected. To supplement the guns are a limited supply of smart bombs which destroy everything on screen.
There are five levels to conquer, with further levels including confrontations above the high seas against missile-spitting battle ships and patrol boats.
The player starts off with a fleet of three planes, and extra ones are earned at 50,000 and 150,000 points, and for every 150,000 points thereafter.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: extremely detailed monochrome objects with smoothly-scrolling background.
Sound: effective gunshot and explosion noises
Options: definable keys
Flying Shark is certainly a fast shoot-'em-up, and boats plenty of action - but I did find the small playing area and the monochromatic graphics a little off-putting. Another annoying point is the fact that the attack patterns never vary from game to game, though to be fair there's far too many to memorise. Still, if you like shoot-'em-ups, give Flying Shark a go.
Authors Cumming and Robinson must have rattled this one off at a fair pace! It seems like only yesterday that these two were coming out with 'original' games at Hewson. They may have lost their originality at Firebird, but they've still come out with a superbly playable and terribly addictive game. The action is fast and the graphics attractive, and the only thing lacking is a decent tune. The Graftgold/Firebird combination seems to have worked.
I've never seen the arcade game, but if this conversion is anything to go by, the coin-op must be something special. Firebird have put together a marvellous game, which looks and plays very much like 1942, with the objective being to advance as far forward as possible and shoot every object that moves. One minor annoyance is that plane is the same colour as the surroundings, but nevertheless that niggle doesn't stop Flying Shark being one of the best arcade conversions I've ever played.
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