Get to the chopper
It may be the holidays, but that isn’t going to stop the retro purveyors over at Hamster from keeping the ball rolling on its Arcade Archives ranger — Joining the huge range of shumps rereleased by the publisher on PS4 and Nintendo Switch, it’s Namco’s unique chopper blaster, Metal Hawk.
Hitting the arcade market in 1988, Metal Hawk initially looks like standard, vertically-scrolling blaster, which were a dime a dozen in the genre’s late-’80s boom period. However, Metal Hawk has a few cool features that helped it stand out from its contemporaries. Showcasing the power of Namco’s new R&D division, (as well as its new Namco System 2 hardware), Metal Hawk features fast-paced, action-packed gameplay, multi-directional gameplay, and even altitude control, making the shmup a genre pioneer.
Get out the sky-high action in the video below, courtesy of retro lovin’ YouTuber Janet.
Helping Metal Hawk turn heads in the local arcade center, Namco commissioned state-of-the-art motion-simulation cabinets, which tilted, raised, and lowered in conjunction with the player’s controls. While these expensive cabinets were few and far between, they raked in small fortunes wherever they were located, making Metal Hawk the talk of the industry and one of 1988’s most successful, critically acclaimed arcade games.
While Metal Hawk itself is a fine blaster, the intrinsic immersion between game and cabinet meant that Namco was reluctant to release a home version, that might not capture the same sense of excitement played on your average sofa. A Mega-CD port was briefly considered in the ’90s, but scrapped. Some original full-scale cabinets still exist today, (albeit in various states of repair), and remain a real conversation piece when discovered housed with an arcade aficionado’s collection.
Check out the cab in action in this video from dedicated collector Fliptronic Avenches.
Metal Hawk is available to download now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch, priced at around $8.