Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Skyfox

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that a lot of folks who grew up playing video games probably don't remember the first game they ever owned.  I sure don't (to the best of my memory it was probably Combat for the Atari 2600), but I do remember my first computer game.  It was a little sci-fi flight-sim called Skyfox.

Probably the single most striking thing, at least initially, about Skyfox is the packaging.  A single 5.25 inch floppy disk tucked into a sleeve on the inside of a slender folder decorated with a short comic establishing some context for the game.  There was also a several page instruction manual.  Basically, you're a fighter pilot trying to stave off air and ground attacks on your home base by enemy planes and tanks respectively.  Some of the more challenging scenarios have floating motherships capable of deploying additional tanks and airplanes against the player as well.

Actual gamplay takes place in the  surprisingly detailed cockpit of the titular Skyfox fightercraft; complete with time, position, speed, altitude and radar displays along with a fuel gauge and shield strength indicator.  Other than that there's missile counters and a tactical computer.  Encounters happen in either one of two zones: low to the ground or high up in the air.  Transitioning between the two areas is intuitively done by simply climbing or diving.  The difficulty level can be adjusted by selecting one of three campaigns each with its own sequence of scenarios ranging from simple training missions to defending against all out assaults.

Supposedly, a sequel came out that let players take the fight into space, but I never played it.  For me Skyfox was a bit too repetitive for my tastes despite some intriguing gameplay mechanics and eye-catching box art.  About a month after I got Skyfox I picked up The Black Cauldron, an adventure game by Sierra that had a lot more to it in terms of content.  I might have dug Skyfox out a few more times after that and played it for a bit, but for the most part I forgot about it...that is...until now.

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