Flying Shark

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Flying Shark
Flying Shark arcade flyer.jpg
Developer(s)Toaplan
Publisher(s)
Composer(s)Masahiro Yuge
Tatsuya Uemura
SeriesShark
Platform(s)Arcade
Release
Genre(s)Vertically scrolling shooter
Mode(s)
CabinetUpright

Flying Shark[a] is a 1987 vertically scrolling shooter arcade video game originally developed by Toaplan and published by Taito in Japan, Romstar in North America and Electrocoin in Europe.[1] Controlling the titular biplane, the players must fight endless waves of military vehicles while avoiding collision with their projectiles and other obstacles. The plane has a powerful bomb at its disposal that can clear the screen of enemies when fired. It was the third shoot 'em up game from Toaplan, and their eight video game overall.

Although first launched in arcades, Flying Shark was later ported across multiple platforms, each one being created by different third-party developers and featuring several changes or additions compared with the original version. The game proved to be a success for Toaplan among players in Japanese arcades and garnered mostly positive reception from western critics, however the game was met with mixed response from magazines, specifically the home conversions. In 1989, a sequel titled Fire Shark was released. The rights to the title are owned by Tatsujin, a Japanese company formed by Masahiro Yuge.

Gameplay[edit]

Arcade version screenshot.

Flying Shark is a military-themed vertically scrolling shoot 'em up game in which players take control of the titular biplane through five increasingly difficult levels in order to defeat an assortment of military enemy forces like tanks, battleships, airplanes and artillery as the main objective.[2][3][4] The title initially appears to be very standard, as players control their plane over a constantly scrolling background and the scenery never stops moving until a runway is reached. Players have only two weapons at their disposal: the standard shot that travels a max distance of the screen's height and three bombs.[2][3][4]

The bombs are powerful weapons capable of obliterating any enemy caught within its blast radius.[2][4] Various items are scattered through every stage that appear by destroying certain enemies:[2][3][4] Shooting down colored waves of enemy planes spawn items like "S" power-up icons, point bonuses and extra lives.[2][4] Certain enemies on the ground spawn "B" icons that increases the player's bomb stock when destroyed.[2][4] Every time the player lands at a runway beyond the first takeoff, the amount of bombs multiply 3000 points to the player's total score.[2]

Players are given three lives initially and bonus lives are awarded at 50000 points and every 50000 points thereafter.[2] The game employs a checkpoint system in which a downed single player will start off at the beginning of the checkpoint they managed to reach before dying. Getting hit by enemy fire will result in losing a live, as well as a penalty of decreasing the plane's firepower to his original state and once all lives are lost, the game is over unless players insert more credits into the arcade machine to continue playing. After completing the last stage, the game begins again with the second loop increasing in difficulty.[3]

Development[edit]

Flying Shark's creation process and history was recounted through various Japanese publications by composers Masahiro Yuge and Tatsuya Uemura, both of which collaborated with the soundtrack and marked the first time Toaplan made use of FM synthesis.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] Yuge stated that the basic structure for the game was already decided during development of Slap Fight by pursuing the excitement of shooting and dodging, settling on the bomb and shot system, claiming that firing a bomb relieved stress from players.[7] Yuge also stated the thematic for the title was a realistic depiction of war that would involve players emotionally, as the development team had the atmosphere portrayed by the 1979 epic war film Apocalypse Now in their mind.[10] The team also took a company trip to Thailand and wanted to convey the mood of the country's scenery with the backgrounds, with Yuge stating that the decision of scrolling said backgrounds left and right was to immerse players more with the game's world, though he expressed desire in making stages longer.[10]

Flying Shark was also the first project by Toaplan to make use of the Motorola 68000 microprocessor and due to the improved hardware, it allowed the team with displaying more sprites on-screen, however the increased hardware also brought issues such as difficulties with making FM sounds and enemy planes aiming their shots at players more accurately.[5][10] The team wanted to make a title where players could clear it via tricks and knowledge accumulated through gameplay.[10][11] When asked about the increasing bullet speed and starting at the second stage during higher loops, Uemura claimed that this design choice was made due to the first stage being made for beginning players and that the bullet speed would return to normal after reaching an overflow.[8] Despite being published by Taito, Uemura stated that the publisher allowed them to reveal the project was made by Toaplan.[8]

Release[edit]

Flying Shark was first released across arcades worldwide on March 1987 by Taito in Japan, Romstar in North America under the name Sky Shark and Electrocoin in Europe.[1][13][14][15] On 21 November 1988, an album containing music from the title was co-published exclusively in Japan by Scitron and Pony Canyon.[5]

Ports[edit]

Flying Shark was converted to multiple platforms by various third-party developers including the Commodore 64 (1987), ZX Spectrum (1987), Amiga (1988), Amstrad CPC (1988), Atari ST (1988), Nintendo Entertainment System (1989), MS-DOS (1989), X68000 (1991) and the FM Towns (1993).[3][16][17][18] Most of the microcomputer ports were only released in Europe or North America.[3] Two version were developed for the Commodore 64; one for Europe and another for North America.[19][20] The NES version, which was a North American exclusive, is notable for being the one of early soundtrack composed by was Tim Follin on the system.[3]

M2 ShotTriggers[edit]

On April 2020, M2 announced a new version of Flying Shark as part of their M2 ShotTriggers publishing label.[21][22][23][24] It was first announced to be released on the Nintendo Switch.[25]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Review scores
Publication Scores
C64 ZXS AGA CPC ST NES
ACE 735/1000[26] 893/1000[27] 895/1000[28] 784/1000[29] 895/1000[30] N/A
ASM 1/12[31] N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
AllGame N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3.5 stars[32]
AmAction N/A N/A N/A 73%[33] N/A N/A
ACPC N/A N/A N/A 65%[34] N/A N/A
Am-Mag N/A N/A N/A 2 stars[35] N/A N/A
CDU 5 stars[36] N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
CForce 50%[37] N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
CU 7/10[38] N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
CU Amiga-64 N/A N/A 73%[39] N/A N/A N/A
CVG 6/10[40] 8/10[40] N/A N/A 75%[41] N/A
Crash N/A 85%[42] N/A N/A N/A N/A
Dator N/A N/A 2/10[43] N/A N/A N/A
EGM N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 22/40[44]
TGM 74%[45] 83%[46] 72%[47] 80%[48] 84%[49] N/A
Gén 4 N/A N/A 80%[50] N/A 80%[51] N/A
Happy CPU 72/100[52] N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
MicroHobby N/A 8/10[53] N/A N/A N/A N/A
NP N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 14/20[54]
The One N/A N/A N/A N/A 76%[55] N/A
Power Play 7/10[56] N/A N/A 5/10[57] N/A N/A
Sinclair User N/A 10/10[58] N/A N/A N/A N/A
Tilt 13/20[59] N/A 14/20[60] 10/20[61][62] 14/20[63] N/A
Your Sinclair N/A 9/10[64] N/A N/A N/A N/A
Zzap!64 63%[65] N/A 68%[66] N/A N/A N/A
Awards
Publication(s) Award(s)
ACE (1988) Top 100 Games (C64/ZXS/CPC)[67]

According to Tatsuya Uemura, Flying Shark proved to be more popular than Twin Cobra and was "the biggest" hit for Toaplan.[8] In Japan, Game Machine listed it on their 15 April 1987 issue as being the fourth most-successful table arcade unit of the year, outperforming titles such as Bionic Commando and Contra.[68] Commodore User's Nick Kelly gave the coin-op a 9 out of 10 score.[69] Computer and Video Games's Clare Edgeley gave an overall positive outlook to the arcade original.[70] Sinclair User's Tim Rolf stated that "it is difficult, but Taito has made it so awesomely playable that the difficulty is a real joy".[71] In contrast, however, Teresa Maughan gave a more mixed outlook to the arcade version.[72] Edge magazine praised the gameplay, visuals and music, claiming that "Toaplan arguably perfected the vertical shoot 'em up wih this early effort", though the publication lamented it never received a proper conversion.[73]

Yaegaki Nachi of Japanese magazine Oh!X gave the X68000 conversion a positive review.[74] German magazine MAN!AC gave the FM Towns Marty port a 47% score.[75]

Legacy[edit]

A sequel, titled Fire Shark (known in Japan as Same! Same! Same!) was launched in 1989. In more recent years, the rights to Flying Shark, its successor and many other IPs from Toaplan are now owned by Tatsujin, a company named after Truxton's Japanese title that was founded in 2017 by former Toaplan employee Masahiro Yuge, who are now affiliated with arcade manufacturer exA-Arcadia.[76][77][78][79][80]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Japanese: 飛翔鮫 (ひしょうざめ) Hepburn: Hishōzame, also known as Sky Shark in North America

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Akagi, Masumi (13 October 2006). タイトー (Taito); 東亜プラン (Toa Plan); Romstar; S. アーケードTVゲームリスト 国内•海外編 (1971-2005) (in Japanese) (1st ed.). Amusement News Agency. pp. 42, 50, 130, 164. ISBN 978-4990251215.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Flying Shark How To Play (Nintendo Entertainment System, US)
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  14. ^ Sky Shark arcade flyer (Romstar, US)
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External links[edit]