Phoenix was fairly unique when it was released in the arcades in 1980 due to having five distinct stages, continuing music pieces playing during the beginning stage (which in-game music still wasn’t very common at the time), and an early video game boss during the final stage.
Gameplay involved players shooting at a variety of birds of different sizes and attack patterns. Players also had a shield to protect their spaceship with temporarily, although it would be several seconds before the shield could be used again.
Eagle Empire is a clone of Phoenix. It was published by Alligata Software for the BBC Micro in 1983 and by Alligator Software for the Commodore 64 in 1984.
The first stage of the game involved shooting several small birds that quickly zig-zagged towards the player’s spaceship while dropping bombs. The birds could also "walk" from side to side and fly back up to their formation at a diagonal. The second stage had the same birds, although players were allowed four shots onscreen at a time, rather than one shot at a time with the previous stage of the game.
The third and fourth stages began with several eggs floating about, which then turned into larger birds . The birds had to be hit right in the middle in order to be destroyed; hitting them anywhere else would cause a wing to be shot off, but it could grow back within a few seconds.
The final stage included a large space fortress with a moving belt that had to be shot through in order to try to destroy the creature that resided inside. Occasionally shots would come down from the fortress. If the player was able to kill the creature then the game would cycle back to the first stage.
Getting rammed by any bird or being hit by their shots would cause the player to lose a spaceship and the game would end when there were no more spaceships in reserve.
Commodore 64 version, differencesEdit
Unlike the arcade original, this version didn’t have any in-game music. There was a row of blinking lights that ran down the middle of the player’s ship. There were just stars in the background, no planets or anything. The player’s shield didn’t last as long but they could fire up to four shots during the second Phoenix and Emperor rounds (the latter of which was the name of the boss). The Eagle flight patterns (the name of the big birds during the third and fourth screens) were different, as they tended to bob up and down, plus the player was allowed two shots at once during the second Eagle round. The Emperor also didn’t fire from the middle, plus its fortress didn’t come down, but the player’s ship would start moving up towards it the longer it took during a round to try to destroy it and the game had different scoring from Phoenix.
- F1 key–one player game with keyboard controls
- F3–two players, keyboard controls
- F5 key–one player, joystick control
- F7–two players, joystick
- Joystick (when using this setup)–move ship, keyboard controls, ?
- Fire–button, _ on keyboard?
- Shield–down on joystick?, _ on keyboard?
Differences, BBC Micro versionEdit
Unlike with the Commodore 64 version, there is music during the first round, and only slightly different from the original Phoenix. The eggs during the large bird stages would start off dropping down from the middle center of the screen and then spread out, along with staying at the top half of the screen for the most part, unlike any other version or clone of the game where they could appear much lower on the screen, being right over the player’s ship. This version also had a high score table of the top eight scorers, which several characters could be entered, rather than just three initials (which the original Phoenix only had the top score since the last power-on without any initials input, and the Commodore 64 version also fared the same way). The player could also use their shield more often than with Phoenix, not having to wait several seconds before it could be used again.
- Start game–fire or spacebar