Star Hawk

Arcade Video game published 42 years ago by Cinematronics, Inc.

Star Hawk screenshot

Listed and emulated in MAME.

Star Hawk © 1979 Cinematronics.

Star Hawk is a 3-D wireframe shoot-em-up which places a strong emphasis on player timing. Players move a cross hair around the screen and must blast the approaching enemy spaceships.

The skill level settings affect how quickly the cross hairs move in response to the joystick input. As the game progresses, the speed of the enemy craft increases. If one particular enemy ship is not destroyed quickly enough, it will zap 800 points off the player's score, with the enemy itself also worth 800 points.

Star Hawk can effectively be played indefinitely, providing the player keeps shooting enough enemy ships.

Goodies for Star Hawk
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Main CPU : CCPU (@ 5 Mhz)

Screen orientation : Horizontal

Players : 2
Control : 8-way joystick
Buttons : 4


Released in March 1979.

Licensed to Sega for Japan market.

Star Hawk was the first arcade game ever released to be based on the film 'Star Wars'. This game literally came out right after the movie. This was an unlicensed translation, but the Tie Fighters and the Death Star inspired background are obvious. This was only the second or third game in history to use an X-Y monitor.

Larry Rosenthal left Cinematronics to form his own company (Vectorbeam). When he left the company, he took all of the development tools that were used for Space Wars with him. Tim Skelly was hired in this time, and was left with nothing to write his games on except for the main board! Luckily, Larry had ran into a time crunch and had to hire a technician to help him out. Tim found the tech, who had the opcodes for the board, and Dennis Halverson was hired to write the macro assembler for the DEC computers used at the company. Cinematronics needed a game, and fast. So rather than wait for the tools to be developed, Skelly wrote Star Hawk on paper using opcodes. The Star Hawk code was the first machine language code that Skelly wrote that actually worked.
Skelly says, "Obviously, things eventually worked out. I managed to crank out Starhawk in time for a winter game show in London. But what still angers me to this day besides being put on the spot like that, is the fact that more than a hundred employees were depending on a new game to maintain their livelihood, and I was clearly chosen as the guy who couldn't come up with one. I think you can see that, under the circumstances, there was no love lost between the Cinematronics and Vectorbeam camps".

Star Hawk came in a large cabinet that had a front that was completely vertical, while the back section sloped away slightly from the marquee. This title actually had two marquees, one with the game logo, and a second one right below it that had some game instructions. The monitor bezel was just tinted plastic with more game instructions below it. The control panel had a pair of odd 8-Way fire button joysticks that looked a bit like handgrips on a childrens bicycle. These were positioned to be used with the right hand, eventually the industry would decide that joysticks go in the left hand, but this one was the other way around. The cabinet features painted sideart of a barely disguised X-Wing swooping down on a barely disguised Death Star, with a few unrelated red and orange bubbles above them.


Command ships – 800
Starship – 500
Rocket – 300
Missile – 100
Bomber – 100


Designed & programmed by : Tim Skelly


GCE Vectrex (1982)


Game's ROM.
Machine's picture.