Black Hawk

Producer: Creative Sparks
Memory required: 48K
Retail price: £6.95
Language: machine code
Author: Phil Snell & Dean Lock


A detail from the attack screen with tank and three factories

Black Hawk is an arcade shoot em up of positively violent proportion. It is also a fairly complex game to get into at first and requires some concentration on the detailed inlay instructions. It is also the first translation to the Spectrum of the popular arcade game ‘Xevious’. We would have to say at the outset however, that the Spectrum’s display isn’t up to the quality of a dedicated arcade machine, so no one must expect those extraordinary graphics. On the other hand, Creative Sparks have added some other interesting features and this is a game which uses ‘Xevious’ as a departure point rather than trying to be a copy.

The time is the near future and the place is a group of heavily defended islands. You are flying your Black Hawk. Your mission is to seek out and destroy enemy airfields and missile launching sites. There are, however, many other installations to destroy. Up against you are enemy anti-aircraft guns, helicopter gunships, SAM missiles and missile launchers. The success of your mission is gauged by your SLF figure (Strategic Loss Factor) — in other words you get points for targets destroyed, i.e. tanks, rockets, SAMs, aircraft ships, gunships, jets, helicopters and others. ‘Others’ are ground installations like factories.

Your aircraft has a computer attack system which features a two-screen display — the defence screen and the attack screen. In the attack screen a small yellow U at the bottom indicates your vertical position and a white cross-sight may be moved over targets. When it turns red, a missile is automatically fired to detonate the target. It can be used to destroy flying targets as well as ground targets, but any flying target which reaches the base of the screen will cause your computer to flip automatically to the defence screen. This shows the Black Hawk at the base of the screen and the approaching objects will soon appear at the top, flying rapidly down towards you. In this screen you may use your cannon to destroy the enemy. Successfully destroying them will return you to the attack screen again.

Your object is to gain a high OTPF (Optimum Target Percentage Figure). At the end of a mission this figure is calculated and, if high enough, additional weaponry may be added to your craft for further missions. Weaponry may also be removed if you fall below the appropriate figure. The weapons are ECM Pod which detects radar, radios and listening posts; X Cannon which increases fire power in the defence system; Blitvig which destroys all visible enemy units and is limited in use by your OTPF; and finally, the Wild Weasel which makes you invulnerable for a short time and may only be used once per mission.

This gives a brief (!) run down of what to expect from Black Hawk — there is more to it. Two skill levels, Rookie and Honcho, plus increasing difficulty.



Control keys: cursors, or Q/A up/down, O/P left/right with 0 to fire
Joystick: Kempston, ZX 2, Fuller, AGF, Protek
Keyboard play: very responsive
Use of colour: very good generally, one small problem with the cross-sight
Graphics: very good, smooth and detailed, very fast
Sound: good noises and tune
Skill levels: 2 but increasing difficulty by mission
Screens: 2
Originality: loosely based on arcade original ‘Xevious’, but as a Spectrum shoot em up, entirely original
General rating: an excellent addictive, fast arcade game.

Use of computer91%
Getting started92%
Addictive qualities95%
Value for money87%

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