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 Post subject: Fire Hawk by ESD (Arcade)
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:25 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 268
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
More trash shooters in the horizon, this time is Fire Hawk.

Is Robo-Keaton fighting Vazeel again?

This is another shmup based on the nmk.16 driver. Yeah, the Thunder Dragon engine. So we're looking at a clone of a "Raiden Killer" just like Air Attack. This time, the funny guys who came up with this game is the ESD, no, its not the Earth Space Defense from Independence Day Resurgence, it means Excellent Soft Design, let's see how "Excellent" this game is...

Of the 5 jets, 3 are accurately depicted.

McDONNELL DOUGLAS / BOEING F-15C EAGLE: Representing Italy, The F-15 is the basic "Balanced" jet that combines average Power (3/5) and Weight (3/5) with High Speed (5/5). The Eagle features a basic 3 way shot of purple lasers. Its Charged Shot is a stream of purple fireballs similar to the HellHound's "Deathflame" from Blazing Star. For its bomb, it releases a large explosion that spins on the center of the screen. Player 1 uses a gray with red jet while Player 2 is a gray with green one. You can switch this jet with the Change item number 1

LOCKHEED MARTIN F-22 RAPTOR: Called "Fire Hawk" in this game, The F-22 represents Korea and is the "All Rounder" that maxes the 5/5 on the three categories. However, the F-22 is another basic 3 way shot jet. The only difference is that fires missiles. For its Charged Shot, the Raptor unleashes a frontal volley of large blue shots wider than those of the F-15, but they're off-center as the beams are fired too left from the middle of the jet's sprite. Its bomb unleashes a twin explosion blast that moves across the screen causing great damages. Player 1 controls a green Raptor while Player 2 uses a color-correct gray one. Can be switched with the Change item with the number 2

GENERAL DYNAMICS F-111 AARDVARK: Called "Phantom" like the F-4, the F-111 represents Brazil. It is the second "Balanced" type jet with 3/5 on Power and 4/5 in both Weight and Speed. It uses a Spread shot of 7 bullets. For its Charged Shot it unleashes a rapid volley of thin lasers in a spread curtain. Its bomb is an explosion with a short burn time. Player 1 uses a gray with purple jet while Player 2 is a brown with green one. Can be selected when the Change item has the number 3.

PANAVIA AVIATION TORNADO ADV: Called "Harrier" like the AV-8B (and its sprite looks like the Harrier unlike the ship selection screen where the Tornado is depicted). This jet represents the United Kingdom. It is the weakest ship of the game according to the Attract Mode with 2/5 in Power and Speed and 3/5 in Weight. Its main shot fires a straight shot of three missiles. Its Charged Shot fires a fast volley of three missiles (a variation of its main shot). It uses the same bomb as the F-15. Player 1 controls a yellow jet and Player 2 is a blue Tornado. Can be selected with the Change item number 4.

LOCKHEED MARTIN F-117A NIGHTHAWK: Named "Night Hawk" in the game, the F-117 represents the United States of America. With 3/5 in Power and Weight and 5/5 on Speed, the Nighthawk is a frontal fire type. Shoots blue arches that go full forward against the enemy. Its Charged Shot fires a stream of AGM-65 Maverick missiles covered in blue fireballs. Its bomb releases two big explosions that move across the screen like the F-22. Player 1 is a black with purple F-117, and Player 2 is green with yellow stripes on the wings. Can be changed with the Change item number 5.

The gameplay is your basic vertical shooter that tries to keep the pace and style of Raiden. Even for a Raiden clone, the weapon system is way too basic since it relies on ship switching rather than the traditional item. Yeah, this game introduces the idea of changing your entire ship rather than just the weapon unlike Carrier Air Wing. I've could say this ship switching might be tactical, but i can't say that since the enemy formations are basic and the ship's firing only differs from being basic spread or full frontal, resulting in a mindless shoot out where all that matters is to pick bonus items and survive. Also, the starting stage varies depending on which ship was selected like in the first Aero Fighters resulting in a quite decent idea of applying a randomness factor to the game with this "who knows which stage is the next one" gimmick.

Worst carrier runway and an erroneous landing.

Like in Raiden, the Result screen evaluates how many emblems you've picked (they don't reset if you lose a life) and how many bombs do you have left. You can speed up the result screen by holding the bomb button.

The graphics of this game are a mess. While the digitized jets are reconizable, the rest of the game is a mashed disorder of things in an attempt of pseudo-digitized graphics, and most of the times they look overpixelated while the enemies are quite interesting as they blend a slight touch of Sci-Fi over the oh-so-common use of the Military theme for the ship and enemy design like Aero Fighters and Grid Seeker: Project Storm Hammer. This mess of graphics is the result of pushing the limits being a micro-developer. I want to applaud them for the effort, but i can't since this is an exercise of "What not to do in a shmup" and the lesson learned here is simple: Taking the leap on far more advanced graphics instead of starting with a more simpler 16-bit like is not a good idea.

Just another fly-by above Mapletown.

The sound department is terrible. My best way to describe this is "DOS AdLib, Roland and Sound Blaster gone wrong". This game features a sometimes too pitched chiptune soundtrack that simply makes ears bleed, not to mention each stage is a 5 second loop that repeats forever, it's the kind of bad game that makes you wanna run away from it of how horrible it is. Once again relies in plagiarism as the sound effects are borrowed from Raiden, for instance, the middle sized enemies use the same explosion sound we hear everytime a Power Up ship is shot down on both Raiden and Raiden II. Also, the sound driver is so bad that the game's sounds cut the other sounds. For example a big explosion will be interrupted by your firing or the item picking sound.
Once you're out of lives, the game will ask you to "Please Continue", well my answer is "Hell no!", this game is terrible and i'd rather play Thunder Dragon than this.

In conclusion we have another poor attempt at a Raiden clone that feels more like a cheap low-budget Aero Fighters clone rather than a copy of Seibu Kaihatsu's masterpiece.
For a company that uses the word "Excellent" on its name, there's nothing excellent about this game. Stay Away of Fire Hawk, it doesn't deserve your time.
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