Review: Captain Skyhawk (NES)

By Drew Wilson

Captain Skyhawk is an action airplane videogame released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). We take a look at how well this particular game has aged over the years.

Captain Skyhawk was released in 1990. The game revolves around a single airplane that you pilot. Your mission is to stop an alien invasion.

The game features a wide variety of different kinds of levels. Some levels are an auto-scrolling top down shooter, other levels are a back to front pseudo-3D levels where you shoot down enemy jets and some levels are a bit like a Space Invaders style level.

Throughout the game, you gain credits. These credits are used to upgrade your plane whether it’s adding missiles or increasing the main weapon’s firing power. You get periodic chances to purchase these upgrades.

Generally speaking, this game is mainly one of those “blow things up” games where you ultimately earn points to appear on a hall of fame list at the end of the game.

This game had a lot going for it. The variety of the kinds of levels really added a certain level of depth to this game other games fail to achieve. There is also a large variety of enemies to go after whether they were stationary anti-aircraft sites , speedboats, hovercrafts, battle ships, enemy bases, or enemy fighters.

One thing to note was that, by the time you get to the end, you start to feel that some of the levels are simply a re-texturing of previous levels that had some of the segments moved around. Of course, by the time this game just starts to wear out it’s welcome, you find yourself facing off with the last boss. So, I would say the designers nailed it on the head where to cut off the end point.

I think the biggest criticism for this game is the ending. After you beat the final boss, you get an impressive amount of bonus points. After it tallies it up, you suddenly get a “Game Over” message and a chance to enter your name in the hall of fame. That’s it. If you were hoping for a spectacular ending, you’ll be sorely disappointed. A very anti-climatic aspect of an otherwise solid game.

The graphics, for the most part, are very well done. If you want an excellent example of special effects, check out the effects of the hall of fame when the intro moves past the title screen. I thought those were very nice effects. The borderline 3D levels where you shoot down enemy fighters was also an impressive feet. When you get shot, you see smoke billowing out of your plane before crashing to the ground. Perhaps the only critique I could offer with the graphics is that some of the stationary enemies are little more than a flashing yellowish block that stops flashing once you destroyed it. I’m not sure what could have been done differently, but it’s a little underwhelming compared to a lot of the other great graphics in this game.

The audio is hard to really judge in this game. The few songs that are in this game are quite well done, but when you get into the game, you’ll notice that there’s a distinct lack of music unless you are going up against a boss. So, for the most part, all you’ll be able to hear are the sound effects which, I have to say, are really nicely done considering the system this is on.

Overall, I think you can find yourself forgetting that this is a NES game as you play through the level. You might think that this is actually a SNES game from time to time. Because the game doesn’t wear out the welcome, the replay value is also pretty good as you want to try and perfect your performance on some of these levels – particularly those fast scrolling levels because you’ve accidentally smashed your plane into one of the sloping mountains. Certainly worth playing either way.


General gameplay: 20/25
Replay value: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 84%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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