Version tested: Retro
After a pretty amazing début quartet of Sanxion, Delta, Quedex (and the lovely Hunter's Moon which we'll add another time), Thalamus kept up its near-flawless record of quality, original titles with this slice of action adventure loveliness.
Scooping a Gold medal in Zzap was no mean feat, but this début offering from Dutch collective The Boys Without Brains proved the talent scouts within Thalamus could sniff out some of the best new developers from right under the noses of the big boys of the business.
While a certain amount of sniffy revisionism about Hawkeye's real worth has gone on over the years, I'd place myself in full agreement with the old Newsfield crew that Hawkeye was a decent game. But was it "an addictive and beautifully presented shoot 'em up of the highest calibre"? Certainly, back in the summer of 1988, there were few better games around.
That said, there are a few holes I'd like to pick in Zzap's closing paragraph. Firstly, it's not really a shoot 'em up...it's an action adventure in today's parlance. Secondly, the graphics are pretty bloody obviously far from beautiful, being almost embarrassingly chunky to these eyes almost two decades on - and weren't even that great then if you look at what else the old warhorse was turning out.
To be fair, the presentation overall is great - the enemies are beautifully animated, and the environments are varied and well-designed. The main sprite, though...what were they thinking? Oh yes, silly me, they didn't actually have any brains, did they?
Once you get over the fact that the pixels are bigger than your own face, Hawkeye really grows on you, tasking a half-robot, half-human (it was 1988...) to run around 12 enemy-laden environments collecting four puzzle pieces scattered around in each. As you pick up one, the hawk's eye winks to the left or the right of the screen to let you know which direction to head in, and you're off again, slaying dozens of determined foe en route.
With numerous weapon upgrades and a decent learning curve, this was a hugely entertaining game, if not exactly an especially original one - and almost worth it for the Mix-E-load alone.
7 / 10