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Falcons

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Released: 1981

Genre: Shoot-'em-up

Format reviewed: Apple II

Publisher: Piccadilly Software Inc.

Developer: Piccadilly Software Inc.

The early 8-bit days were full of variants, and Falcons was practically a poster child, being about as close a copy of the arcade hit Phoenix as one could get, right down to its avian theme and title. It was though, an awfully good derivative – in my opinion one of the very best shoot ’em ups ever to have ever been written for the Apple II.

The script is essentially the same as in Phoenix : you have a couple of stages with waves of enemies, then two stages with dive-bombing, larger type falcons, and for stage 5 a massive stationary mothership resplendent with alien to contend with and a host of falcons flying about just to make life that much more difficult. What sets this game apart though in my opinion is the fiendish attack patterns of the birds; they down just fly around you, they practically taunt you, creeping up at you at times from underneath your ship, and it really is masterfully done – the birds seem to be more intelligent than your usual space-invader type enemy, and just like in Phoenix, the force field doesn’t just come in handy at times, it is essential to utilise at just the right moments.

And if you find that the creeping birds just about make you sweat bullets, then rest assured the successful defeat of the UFO will just about make you soil your underclothings : the visual and sonic effects of the resulting explosion are undoubtedly some of the best ever experienced on the machine, bringing to conclusion perfectly the game’s comprising five stages before starting the procession all over again.