Flying Shark (also known as Sky Shark in North America) is a vertical scrolling shoot 'em up. The game was developed by Toaplan and published by Taito for the arcades in 1987. The same year, it was converted (by Firebird) to the 16bit home computers Amiga, Atari ST, Sharp X68000, Fujitsu FM Towns and FM Towns Marty and the 8bit home computers Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum.
STORY / GAMEPLAY The story here is pretty simple; fly your plane and destroy everything that moves (or shoots at you). You control a bi-winged plane (that looks like a WWI plane) through five vertically scrolling levels swarmed by enemy forces like planes, tanks, gun emplacements and even battleships! You take off from your military base and fly over a variety of environments like forests, oceans or even cities. When the going gets a little tough, you can launch one of your limited (up to 3) supply bombs to explode every enemy craft around in pieces. Occasionally, a squadron of red planes appears and you must shoot them all down, to gain essential extra firepower! If you let just one of those planes to fly away, you won't get the bonus (shown as a big S). You can boost your firepower with a spread fire comprising of a maximum of nine projectiles a shot. While flying, you will also find some extra bombs (shown as a huge red B) by destroying ground or airborne enemies. In terms of gameplay, the game is very tough, especially when too many enemies occupy the screen and shooting at you in frenzy. And its toughness doesn't end there since the enemy planes move in "confusing" and frustratingly fast patterns that provide an infuriatingly addictive challenge! The truth is, it's hard to avoid enemy fire and, every time you lose a life, your firepower goes back to default (two projectiles per shot), which means that soon you'll be history. So, your best bet is to find a joystick with an auto-fire function, build up your firepower enough and then, virtually, nothing will stand in your way! Given its sharp graphics and addictive gameplay, Flying Shark is a great shoot 'em up game, though (as already said) it's among the most difficult of its time.
GRAPHICS / SOUND Despite the game's visuals (and sounds) are not 100% faithful to the coin-op original, the Flying Shark conversion to the Atari ST and Amiga features some detailed and colorful backdrops and sprites. The game runs with 16 colors on screen so it seems that the Atari ST game was the base to create the Amiga counterpart. The sprites move fast, though the ST game suffers from some occasional slowdowns when too many enemies swarm the screen. Comparably, the Sharp X68000 version is technically the only conversion that's identical to the original coin op. Sonically, your battles are accompanied by some nice and functional effects plus a music score that sounds like the original. Overall, Flying Shark is a decent shoot 'em up, for every Atari ST owner.
In-game music sample:
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CPU: Motorola 68000 16/32bit at 8mhz. 16 bit data bus/32 bit internal/24-bit address bus. MEMORY: RAM 512KB (1MB for the 1040ST models) / ROM 192KB GRAPHICS: Digital-to-Analog Converter of 3-bits, eight levels per RGB channel, featuring a 9-bit RGB palette (512 colors), 320x200 (16 color), 640x200 (4 color), 640x400 (monochrome). With special programming techniques could display 512 colors on screen in static images. SOUND: Yamaha YM2149F PSG "Programmable Sound Generator" chip provided 3-voice sound synthesis, plus 1-voice white noise mono PSG. It also has two MIDI ports, and support mixed YM2149 sfx and MIDI music in gaming (there are several games supported this).