Playing Street Hawk (Spectrum)

Back in the 1980’s when I was pretending to grow up, television was almost saturated with imported American action series and kids my age lapped the lot up; playground arguments would revolve around which would come out better in a fight between the Knight Industries 2000 and Airwolf, if the A Team could build Blue Thunder from an old tractor and some tubular steel or which kid would get to be Colt Seavers and who would have to take the role of Howie Munson.

And being fairly avid gamers, we all wanted to re-enact our favourite telly shows in game form… and that was something of a shame really since the majority of those games were rather rough! But surprisingly, one exception was based incredibly loosely on the one season wonder Street Hawk (where a cop injured in the line of duty becomes the rider of a super-secret, heavily armed… erm, motorbike) and the “Subscriber’s Edition” under consideration here was rather cobbled together to get something released on a promise – and surprisingly, that quick and dirty development cycle appears to be the reason it came out as playable as it did!

Y’see, Street Hawk SE (my contraction rather than Ocean’s, but it’s already growing on me) is pretty much based on Defender and was presumably built rather hastily around an existing game; yes, the Street Hawk itself has been grafted in and some almost lunar gravity added presumably because even that particular superbike didn’t fly for extended periods, but it’s been equipped with a classic Defender laser and the primary objective is to hammer around the bi-directional scrolling landscape whilst twonking the enemies and rescuing the people who get blown clear of the explosions during the “rescue” stages of the game.

It really is simple but enjoyable stuff (as was the programme itself to be honest) in a way that the “full” Street Hawk, a vertically scrolling shooter released a year later where the player is actively discouraged from shooting most things, simply wasn’t. It won’t win a single prize for originality (although the minigame where the bike’s battery is charged before each stage might get a special mention during the awards ceremony) and there’s very little variety in the long term, but it’s a far more accurate representation of the programme. All its lacking is a cover of the awesome Tangerine Dream tune used on the show.

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