Commodore User1st December 1987
Published in Commodore User #52
With a brilliant conversion of Taito's Bubble Bobble under their proverbial belt, Firebird have now released their second coin-op conversion - the five-level, vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up Flying Shark.
It's very much in the 1942 mould, with formations of enemy planes attacking from the top, side and occasionally the bottom of the screen - it's up to you to blow them out of the sky before they get you.
Erradicating a squadron of yellow planes results in a bonus of 1,000 points, while wiping out a red squadron allows you to improve your firepower by collecting the floating credit which appears.
But Flying Shark isn't just planes, planes and more planes... tanks, patrol boats and heavily defended battleships and also out for your blood. Should the going prove a little too tough, you can always unleash one of your three smart bombs to take care of any enemy craft and bullets in the immediate vicinity. Extra bombs can be acquired along the way by collecting the respective tokens - and you certainly need them. You see, the smart bombs are activated by holding down the Fire button and pushing forward on the joystick, and it's all too easy to unintentionally release them.
The coin-op version is one of the more playable games of its type, but sadly this conversion is unnecessarily frustrating - almost to the point of being unplayable. What makes it so annoyingly tough are the enemy bullets - there are a lot of them, and while the scenery is attractive, the colour scheme used makes it difficult to spot the bullets.
To make matters worse, the collision detection is more often than not too generous, and enemy bullets don't seem to need to actually hit the plane to destroy it. This drove me up the wall after only a few plays, but I battled on bravely and completed the first level - only to find that Flying Shark is multi-loaded! I've no idea why - it's not as if it's packed with variety! Fortunately, Catalyst, the team behind the conversion, had the sense to include a continue play option.
I was also disappointed to find that you can't destroy some of the larger installations, and that the layout of the level differs from the original - so much for an accurate conversion. That said, Flying Shark on the C64 is one of the better coin-op conversions available - though certainly not in the same league as Bubble Bobble.