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Starhawk is a 1977 vector arcade game by Cinematronics. Starhawk is a shoot 'em up with a fixed environment. The game was unique at the time as it presented the graphics in a pseudo-three dimensional way. Essentially, the game is a simple video game version of the Star Wars: Episode IV trench run. The game was later ported to the Vectrex video game console in 1982. The game is remembered as having quite advanced graphics for the time and being the first video game based upon or to have noticeable references to Star Wars.
According to the Vectrex manual, the story involves "protecting your comrades from alien ships trying to infiltrate your culture" and "defending the sovereignty of your planet".
Various ships, highly reminiscent of TIE Fighters, would appear on the horizon of the trench and the player had to shoot them before they destroyed the player's ship. The player is given initially sixty seconds and the counter is continually decrementing, but increases as the player destroys enemies. Twenty seconds is given for every 10,000 points scored. It is feasible that a good player could play indefinitely. The player would continue flying down the trench towards a specific target similar to the Star Wars Death Star target. The game would get progressively more difficult as the player advanced. Similar to the Flying Saucer from Space Invaders, a command ship would periodically appear and would attempt to shoot at the player. If the command ship was not destroyed quickly, the player lost 800 points.
- Command ships – 800
- Starship – 500
- Rocket – 300
- Missile – 100
- Bomber – 100
The game utilized an X-Y monitor, which are known for being notoriously hard to repair. The arcade manual contains full diagrams of the circuit boards, down to a logic gate and transistor level. Besides the firing button, there are three buttons that control the speed of the crosshairs. The game is a 4k game, and all subsequent Cinematronics titles were 8k in size. The joysticks were handmade by Cinematronics.
- Starhawk is the first video game ever to be based upon Star Wars, although it did not receive official license.
- Tim Skelly wrote the entire game out on legal pads, using opcodes as the development tools had not been written yet.
- The arcade cabinet had to have a cinder block placed inside of it, in order to prevent it from tipping onto the player.
- The Vectrex version will resort to using symbols such as #, @ and ? to represent numbers if the time bonuses extend the 2-digit countdown timer beyond 99 seconds. Good players can cause the game to freeze or crash once all these characters have been used up.
- Starhawk at Museum of the Game
- History of Cinematronics
- Starhawk at Everything2
- History of Cinemetronics Vector games
- Tim Skilley's history of Cinematronics
- StarHawk Vectrex manual