Captain Skyhawk was developed for the NES in 1990 by Rare and published by the Milton Bradley Company in the US and Mattel in PAL regions. The game features a soundtrack from acclaimed British video game composer David Wise. The graphics were impressive for the NES, with the terrain looking similar to PC flight simulators of the time.
Aliens have invaded Earth, and have constructed bases around the globe. These bases feed on the Earth's energy. If allowed to continually feed they will destroy the Earth in a massive laser blast. As Captain Skyhawk, you must destroy the enemy bases and eventually destroy their space station. Scientists are working on a super weapon (a Neutron Cannon) and sometimes require the player to drop various goods to them at their underground lairs. To hinder the scientists on their important work, aliens kidnap them and it is often up to the player to rescue these crucial figures.
In Captain Skyhawk, players take control of the F-14VTS to combat the alien hordes. The ship is a fictional version of the F-14 Tomahawk. The game uses several different types of gameplay in different sections. Primarily, The game is a top-down shooter over isometric backdrops. The player navigates canyons, choosing his path through the level. Throughout these segments, the player controls primary and secondary weapons, horizontal movement, and altitude. There is no movement control over the y-axis on the screen.
During aformentioned top-down segments, the player may fly through the looping level attempting to deliver supplies (replacing secondary weapons) into holes in the ground. After a set number of completed drops, the player completes the level. Other levels require the destruction of bases. The player must avoid the base's attacks while destroying the buildings of the base. Once the four outer buildings have been destroyed, the player destroys the center building, resulting in completion of the level.
A second mission type has the player simply destroying enemy craft. The camera moves behind the ship, and the player is challenged to eliminate as many hostiles as possible while avoiding incoming missiles.
The player is also tasked with docking with a space station. In these gameplay segments, the player is simply required to line up his craft with a rotating docking bay on a space station. Pressing "B" causes the craft to attempt to dock. Failure to line ship up with the opening before pressing "B" results in crashing the craft into the side of the space station. The loss of a full life as a consequence for failure makes mastery of these sections imperative for completion of the game.
There are a total of nine levels.
There are four usable weapons in the game: the cannon, Phoenix Air Intercept Missiles, Maverick air to ground missiles, and Hawk bombs. The cannon features limitless ammunition while the other weapons are purchased between rounds with points achieved from killing alien swarms during the rear perspective sections of the game. Extra cannons may also be purchased increasing their rate of fire.