Desert Falcon

Desert Falcon
Company: Atari
Model #:
Mike Feinstein, Bob Kukura, John Mracek, and Chris Fitch (GCC)
Year: 1987
Originally called Sphinx then 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 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, 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
Quick Shots Rapid fire
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
Extra Life Gain one extra life
Broken Wing

You cannot fly for a short time

Hover Don't move forward when flying
Speed Up Increase speed
Slow Down Speed decrease



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).  Of course if you're under the polywater curse you will not be able to move through lakes at all.


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 was actually started back in 1984, but work was quickly stopped as the 7800 was shelved.  It wasn't until 1986 when Atari realized that they needed several new games quickly for their hastily launched machine that Desert Falcon was completed.  It was also around this time that the 2600 version (programmed by Bob Polaro) was released as part as Atari's dual 2600/7800 development program (although the 2600 version was not started until 1987).


Desert Falcon is a great "Zaxxon-esque" shooter, and a rather impressive entry into the 7800 library.  Although Desert Falcon does have its flaws such as the difficulty involved in lining up your shots at the correct height (would a altitude gauge have killed them?), it's still one of the better shooters out there.  While the 2600 version may have be crippled due to hardware limitations, the 7800 version suffers from no such penalties and is a far superior game.  


Version Cart Text Description
3/9/87 Falcon No-Hit 3/9/87 Unknown
3/25/87 Falcon 3/25/87 Almost Complete


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