My initial reaction to the first screen of Laser Hawk was that here was another horizontally scrolling blast-anything-that-moves type of game.
And indeed it is, but with many simple refinements and thoughtful touches that had me coming back for just one more go - and then some.
Flying your chopper through five increasingly difficult zones, you avoid or destroy various robo-ships, missile launching silos, parked space ships, building and volcanoes - while keeping an eye on your fuel level.
Progress through the zone is charted via a small radar screen in the top corner. As the zones become more difficult and the general level of activity intensifies, you will encounter meteors, guided missiles, laser cannons and high flying bombers.
If the pace gets too hot (and it certainly gets pretty warm in the higher levels) you could try keeping your finger on the spacebar.
If you survive to the end of the zone, you are given an extra life and the opportunity to earn valuable bonus points by destroying a Commodore, BBC, or Sinclair monolith on the ground!
When you have completed the five zones you are treated to a gratifying reward screen before progressing to the next, more difficult level.
The graphics, scrolling and sound are good throughout and contribute to the game's appeal and playability.
Each zone layout is slightly different and appears to be randomly generated, altering every time a game is started.
If your chopper gets chopped, you restart where you left off, not at the beginning.
And when you get the hang of things, you can choose to start at any one of the four levels of difficulty available. Just two examples of Red Rat's attention to game-playing detail.
I must say, after my slightly sceptical start, the more I played Laser Hawk the more I liked it.
While the game concept is perhaps getting a little long in the tooth, Red Rat has tweaked it nicely, treating it in a thoughtful and refreshing way. What it may lack in originality it makes up for in finesse.
A very entertaining game and good value.