Desert Falcon

Name:
Desert Falcon
Company: Atari
Model #:
CX-26140
Programmer:
Bob Polaro
Year: 1987
Released?
Yes
Notes:
Originally called Nile Flier

Desert Falcon is an interesting little game in the same vein as Zaxxon.  However instead of a ship in a space station, you play the role of a falcon in ancient Egypt.   Your mission is to fight your way through the deadly desert and find the pharaoh's treasure (exactly what does a falcon need with treasure anyway?).  Of course it wouldn't be much of game if the treasure was unguarded, that's why a whole army of nasty desert beasts are after your feathery little hide.  Have you got what it takes to become the ultimate Nile Flier?

 

Desert Falcon uses the same weird 3/4th overhead perspective as Zaxxon did, but adds several new twists.  Not only can you fly, but you can also hop along the ground!  Taking the terrestrial route is useful for avoiding flying bad guys and allows you to gather treasure and hieroglyphs.  Hieroglyphs are your key to obtaining super powers which will help you get farther into the game.  By picking up three hieroglyphs you can trigger a super power (or curse), the type of power is determined by the type and order of hieroglyphs you collect.  Some powers can be stored until needed (by double tapping the fire button), while others are triggered immediately.  Powers include:

Air Bomb Destroys all airborne enemies on the screen
Decoy Makes a decoy to attract enemies
Hold Sphinx The sphinx cannot shoot darts or enemies at you
Invincible You become is invincible for a short time
Omnicide Destroys all enemies on the screen
Points Gives you points
Polywater You cannot swim for a short time
Shackles You cannot hop for a short time
Roulette You are given to random hieroglyphs
Warp Warps you to the sphinx

 

Evil desert enemies aren't the only things standing between you and your treasure.  Large pyramids and obelisks dot the desert landscape, each one deadly to the touch.  Trying to avoid these obstacles can be tricky due to the faked 3/4th perspective, so try and give each one a wide berth.  Large lakes also appear occasionally, but fortunately for you pose no danger (although your movement when in the water is limited).  Lakes are actually the key to revealing programmer Bob Polaro's initials.  Simply grab any hieroglyph super power and jump into a lake to reveal the letters "BP".

 

At the end of each stage you'll run into a large sphinx.  Consider these guys to be the bosses of the game (only slightly sillier than a square robot with a missile).  To destroy the sphinx all you need to do is hit it in the mouth with a few well timed shots, after which you'll be taken to the bonus stage.  The bonus stage is really just an level that's full of treasure and devoid of enemies, but then again I'm not complaining.  Thankfully obstacles are non-deadly in the bonus stage which is a good thing given the amount of time you spend running into them.

 

Desert Falcon is a interesting game which proves that the 2600 was capable of pulling off a Zaxxon style game.  Unfortunately the 2600 really isn't well suited for 3/4th perspective games and it's often hard to judge exactly where your character is on the screen (which is probably why Coleco didn't try it with Zaxxon).  Slightly blocky graphics don't help the perspective problem, but were probably a trade off for the smooth scrolling.  If anything Desert Falcon is an attempt at an all too overlooked genre, and is a welcome edition to the 2600 library.

 

Version Cart Text Description
5-27-87 Falcon 5-27-87 Non-Playable Demo

 

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