|Mike Feinstein, Bob Kukura, John Mracek, and Chris Fitch (GCC)
|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.
||Destroys all airborne enemies on the screen
||Makes a decoy to attract enemies
||The sphinx cannot shoot darts or enemies at you
||You become is invincible for a short time
||Destroys all enemies on the screen
||Gives you points
||You cannot swim for a short time
||You cannot hop for a short time
||You are given to random hieroglyphs
||Warps you to the sphinx
||Gain one extra life
You cannot fly for a short time
||Don't move forward when flying
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
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.
||Falcon No-Hit 3/9/87
to 7800 Software