C&VG1st September 1988
Published in Computer & Video Games #83
When you hear of a new game from Thalamus coded by a bunch of Swedish hackers known collectively as the Boys Without Brains you can't help but be interested.
Unfortunately, this soon starts to wain when you discover that the game in question is no more or less than a scrolling platform number involving a great deal of blasting and picking things up.
Called Hawkeye, the game takes its name from the two winking hawks at the right and left of the information panel at the top of the play screen. When one of the hawks winks, this tells you the direction in which you must run to locate one of the four pieces of a puzzle that you need to enable you to get onto the next level.
These glowing pieces of the puzzle are dotted around the platforms and provide a modicum of interest above and beyond the otherwise tedious business of running, leaping and shooting.
Some games are difficult to play because the puzzles and challenges invented by the designers are cleverly put together others are difficult to play because things just don't work out the way they were intended. Hawkeye belongs to the latter category.
The method of jumping illustrates this point in Hawkeye. The character does not respond well to the joystick when he attempts to leap chasms and from platform to platform. This is extremely frustrating - interrupting the gameplay not through any lack of skill on the part of the player but through the inadequacy of the programming.
Your hero is armed with four different types of gun - selected by pressing the fire button and moving the joystick to the left. As far as I could tell it makes little difference which one you select as, apart from sound and graphics, they are all pretty similar.
As well as the four pieces of the puzzle, there are also other glowing squares to be picked up offering extra energy and firepower.
The nasties are a widely mixed bunch. The first ones you come across are a pair of wimpy-looking bouncing ducks. They do improve though with groups of birds flying in formation and a mean-looking rhino at the end of level one. But it's not the nasties that make it difficult - it's negotiating the platforms as you try to get to the next level.
Should you succeed in this, your energy is replenished in an animated sequence whilst the next level loads.
This is all very well. It looks great and sounds good too but the trouble is you have seen it all before. It is about as original as the Grumbleweeds.
The muscle-bound hero of this little escapade bears an uncanny resemblance to just about every other muscle-bound hero featured in countless scrolling, shooting adventures over the last couple of years. I do like his name though - Stavros or 'Stavvy' to his mates. I am reliably informed however that this particular Stavros has no connection with a certain North London restauranteur or an alternative comedian called Harry. No - he is more likely to take his name from a well-known Thalamus programmer called Stavros who was last heard of freezing his knackers off on the Russian-Finnish border wearing a uniform of the Swedish army.
I am of course referring to Stavros Fasoulas author of Delta, Sanxion and Quedex.
I am sure Stavros will be chuffed to learn he has a computer hero named after him - when he thaws out that is. He probably wouldn't be quite so pleased though were he aware of the appalling lack of originality that the game demonstrates.
Admittedly the graphics, sound and presentation are excellent - well up to the high standards that we have come to expect from this Crash and Zzap owned software house. It's just that in the playability stakes it leaves me completely cold - just like Stavros.
Rumours emanating from Thalamus tell of a hot new game from Martin Walker - author of Hunters Moon. Keep watching for news of this one.