Space Hawk was developed and released for the Intellivision in 1981. The player's objective is to shoot down space hawks and other assorted anomalies without getting hit or caught in an explosion. The gameplay in Space Hawk bears several similarities to aspects of both Asteroids and Astrosmash, including zero-gravity inertia and a scoring system based on peak scores and multipliers. It also features the ability to switch the control method for both thrust and turning on the fly, which was somewhat unique for this era of gaming.
The original code for Space Hawk was based off a game mode removed from Astrosmash that resembled Asteroids. This mode, originally programmed by John Sohl, was given to Bill Fisher, with instructions to alter it enough so that there would be no legal issues over the Asteroids-like gameplay. With the removal of asteroids and UFOs, and the addition of robot birds from space, gas bubbles, amoebas, and comets, the game now known as Space Hawk was cleared for release.
Space Hawk's gameplay is rather basic: shoot enemies, and don't collide with any enemies or objects. The player controls an spaceman, and can use thrust to fly about space while hunting for enemies to shoot. The spaceman can shoot blasts of gas in any direction, and as the shots get further away from him, they grow in size. In the event a situation is too tricky and a quick escape is needed, hyperspace can be used, which transports the spaceman to a different area of space at the cost of points.
As the player's score increases, enemies become more aggressive, and new enemies begin to appear in space. Every time the spaceman collides with an enemy, or comes in contact with an explosion left by the enemy, he spins wildly, and a life and points are deducted. The player starts with five lives, and needless to say, once these are all gone, the game is over, and the peak score earned in the game is displayed.
While the player will initially only encounter space hawks and gas bubbles at the start of the game, more enemies will appear as the score increases.
These bird-like robots will fly around space, dropping gas bubbles for the player to avoid. They must be shot three times before they explode. It is crucial for the player to keep a space hawk on-screen when attempting to defeat it; if it moves too far off-screen, it could disappear for good, making all the player's effort worthless.
Dropped by space hawks, gas bubbles take various shapes and colors, and will float around space. While they require only one shot to destroy, some bubbles may explode in a larger radius, making close-range fire an unwise move. As the difficulty increases, these bubbles will mysteriously float towards the player more frequently, as if compelled by some unseen force.
Comets appear at 10,000 points and above. These shooting stars fly in a straight line, and are easily defeated with one shot. Other than their speed, they pose little threat to the spaceman.
Smaller versions of space hawks will eventually appear, emitting gas bubbles all the same. These miniature copies still require three shots to defeat, and their small size makes them a tougher target. While the game manual does not describe a specific point at which small hawks begin to appear, they seem to start showing up at some level above 20,000 points, and will increase in frequency until they are the sole type of hawk that appears.
Small amoebas will occasionally appear when gas bubbles are burst at 40,000 points, with larger versions appearing at 200,000 points. These grey blobs are completely indestructible, so it's wise to fly away quickly or use hyperspace to avoid their gelatinous wrath. As the score continues to increase, the odds of encountering an amoeba after bursting a gas bubble will increase as well.
Rainbow bubbles can be emitted by space hawks above 100,000 points, and as their name might suggest, they change color frequently. The only way to destroy a rainbow bubble is by shooting it when it turns green -- attempting to shoot it any other time will cause shots to deflect.
Black holes, while described in the game manual as an invisible hazard that will cause the spaceman to spontaneously hyperspace to save his life, don't really exist. This is simply a glitch caused by the Intellivision controller in which a certain combination of disc and button inputs will cause the system to think the button used for hyperspace has been pressed. No joke.
Points are earned for destroying enemies and lost for dying or using hyperspace. The points increase/decrease is also affected by the multiplier in play, which goes up and multiplies the points as the score increases. The multiplier level also affects how often extra lives are earned.
- Bubbles: 20 points
- Explosive Bubbles: 40 points
- Rainbow Bubbles: 50 points
- Comets: 100 points
- Space Hawks: 200 points
- Small Hawks: 800 points
- Losing a Life: -100 points
- Using Hyperspace: -200 points
- 1x: 0 - 999 points
- 2x: 1,000 - 4,999 points
- 3x: 5,000 - 19,999 points
- 4x: 20,000 - 49,999 points
- 5x: 50,000 - 199,999 points
- 6x: 200,000 points or more
Much like Astrosmash, it is possible to drop back down a multiplier level due to loss of points.
- 1x through 3x: Earned every 1,000 points
- 4x: Earned every 2,000 points
- 5x and Beyond: Earned every 5,000 points