Flying Shark
By Firebird
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Computer & Video Games #87

Flying Shark

Flying Shark caused quite a stir when it was launched a couple of years back - which now seems a bit strange when you consider that all you are really talking about is a vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up - albeit a particularly good one.

You are at the controls of a World War I bi-plane flying low over an ever-changing terrain.

As you fly up-screen the enemy scroll down towards you attacking from the sky as well as the ground. You need eyes in the back of your head and a good memory to remember their attack patterns if you are going to get anywhere in Flying Shark.

Flying Shark

The first impression of the game is "blimey this is tough". Unlike some other vertically scrolling blasters on the ST Flying Shark is incredibly mean with its power-ups.

When you finally manage to blast a whole squadron of red planes a power-up will appear - but it is no simple matter of flying into it. It wanders all over the screen so you have to track it carefully - blasting any other enemy tanks of planes that may be around it.

There is one generous saving grace though - you are given three super weapons at the beginning of the game - represented by three flame icons at the bottom right of the screen.

Flying Shark

Tap space bar and four flaming balls appear spinning around your plane - killing anything that moves. These are useful for blowing up the armoured fortresses with their hidden tanks.

Extra super weapons can be picked up by collecting the letter 'B' power-ups that appear every so often.

The overhead graphics are very pretty and similar to the arcade original. Lush jungle forests - with tanks appearing from clearings and gun boats in rows of three in a bright blue ocean. There is no question mark about the graphics in this conversion.

Flying Shark

The doubts that I have are with the speed with which the game plays - it does appear a bit slow and jerky at some stages. Not that this makes the game any easier to play - the basic game design makes sure you've not going to clock Shark in a few sittings.

On quite a few occasions my plane disappeared below the level of the screen and I was killed. That seemed very unfair as how could I expected to dodge the flak if I couldn't even see my plane?

Still, that's a small point really - and a design fault that was also in the coin-op original. Presumably the conversion team went for a 'warts and all' conversion.

So - to buy or not to buy? If you were crazy about the coin-op then definitely yes. This is a more than competent conversion.

If, however, you are just looking for a good scrolling shoot-'em-up for your ST then I would consider Xenon by Melbourne House instead. It has the edge in playability and graphics.

Ciaran Brennan

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