Flying Shark has to be one of the most addictive shoot 'em ups ever. It certainly made my joystick sticky!
By jove I enjoyed that. In fact I enjoyed it so much my joystick's all hot and sticky. I'll have to let it cool down before I dare go back and do it again. Do what? Why, play Flying Shark of course - what did you think I was talking about?
I'll gather my wits while I write this review. One... two... three. Right, that's my wits gathered in, now on with the comments. Flying Shark is Firebird's coin-op conversion of Taito's arcade favourite, which I haven't seen 'cos I stay here writing reviews while everyone else goes down the arcades to check out what's happening. Trouble is, they never come back, and with games like this around I can see why.
It's a vertical scrolling shoot-'em-up in the style of earlier raves of mine like Slap Fight and Moon Strike where the action's non-stop. You're a lone fighter pilot and you have to blast your way through five levels of enemy forces, with a quick breather when you touch down on the runways in-between levels. That's if you make it that far, of course. The first level is mainly over jungle, with tanks and gun emplacements on the ground, and planes buzzing round in the air like manic mozzies. Your firepower's pretty hot, however, and I do like these games where you can belt your way to a decent score right from the off rather than being wiped out in the first ten seconds. Or maybe it's just the way I jiggle my joystick.
At the end of the first level there's a massive tank which took me about a dozen games and a lot of joystick-jiggling to get past. I was then confronted with action over the oceans where the planes and gun-boats and battle ships soon converted my Flying Shark into the sea-bound variety.
On your side, you've got three lives, with each life having three smart bombs. These wipe out all the enemy on the screen when used, as smart bombs should. There are bonus bombs to be earned in the shape of letter B's that you might sometimes find under a wiped-out tank or elsewhere, and you can also increase your fire-power by flying into one of the circling S's that appear occasionally. The first of these gives you a double-barrel blast, then a triple-blast, and so on... though I've never picked up more than two before being deaded. If you manage to wipe out all the enemy on the screen while your '1-Up' symbol flashes, you can also gain bonus points, and you've got to make it to 50,000 before you get your first extra plane.
The graphics are great, very smooth, and it's almost worth crashing into an enemy plane just to see the way you both twirl down to the ground. Well, it's worth doing once. Programming's by Dominic Robinson, and the music by Steve Turner is so teriffically-fabby-groovy-cool it seems a shame to start the game sometimes. You can use joysticks in profusion or the redefinable keyboard in one or two-player mode. A neat little touch is the way the high-score table remembers your initials so you don't have to retype them each and every time. And that's the end of the news. This is Mike Gerrard, Your Sinclair, with a sticky joystick.
OVERALL SCORE 9/10
(c) Mike Gerrard, (c) Your Sinclair