Review: F-117A Nighthawk (Nintendo Switch)



The F-117A Nighthawk is one of the most renowned stealth-fighters to have ever flown. The striker aircraft was the product of the most top-secret military research int he world, having been developed by the secretive “Skunk Works” division of Lockheed Martin. Revealed to the world in 1988, the F-117 first saw service during the Invasion of Panama in 1989, but would be used infamously during Operation Desert Storm. The F-117 was known for its acute airframe and design, using angular shapes to deflect radar acquisition. Using classified stealth materials, the F-117 could infiltrate enemy defensive networks with ease, and successfully destroy its target, causing maximum damage to enemy capabilities. As per the case with most American military hardware, a video game was made based upon the Nighthawk, and now, in 2020, the game has returned. F-117A Nighthawk is a shooter and flight simulator that was developed by Microprose and released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1992. With help from retro-haven studio Retroism, F-117A Nighthawk brings back the earliest days of flight simulation onto the Nintendo Switch. Liking digging up an old fossil, F-117A Nighthawk can feel rough and uneven, but for those that have the patience to learn, F-117A Nighthawk is a wonderful throwback to an earlier time in video games, and provides a satisfactory combat experience.


As the newest, most elite pilot of the F-117 Nighthawk, players are tasked with participating in the most contested global conflicts, from Libya to Desert Storm, to the Invasion of Panama. Players select which weapons package to load onto their fighter, which includes a mixture of air-to-air and air-to-ground ordnance. In each level, players are free to attack and destroy the various targets presented to them, but must successfully eliminate designated primary and secondary targets to achieve a successful mission. As a simulation, players factor in altitude, airspeed, and fuel, as well as their limited supply of ammunition.



F-117A Nighthawk does take getting used to, as the game formats the older NES controls to the Nintendo Switch joycons. This can be rather difficult as the button maps can be confusing. There is difficulty in pausing the game and opening the map, in particular, and it is easy to accidentally quit a level. It feels strange that the controls were not tied to the analog sticks and button presses for a more comfortable feel, but it appears the intent was to give an impression closest to the original game. The difficulty with the controls is only main concern with F-117A Nighthawk, though player should prepare for an older, much more challenging type of game.


As an early flight-simulator for the Nintendo Entertainment System,F-117A Nighthawk is presented in a flat space, trying to present a full 3D space. It is very easy to be low to the ground and crash because of this visual presentation. The only indication of altitude is the altimeter, not the left-hand side. The same observation applies to airspeed, fuel, stealth, weapons, and countermeasures. The game takes place entirely within the cockpit, and the HUD indicates all the important information necessary to complete the mission. Every system is essential for success. A high altitude will make it more difficult for the enemy defense to track the player, but make it impossible to strike a target. Flying too low exposes players to anti-aircraft fire, and the cockpit lights up in aerial explosions. Occasionally, fighters will come to intercept players and must be either destroyed or evaded.F-117A Nighthawk gets players to think more strategically, rather than fight the enemy aggressively. It’s a methodical approach and one that was unique for its time, especially as the NES had plenty of arcade-based flight games.



Playing F-117A Nighthawk in 2020 is a much more rewarding simulator experience than expected. Every target downed and objective completed feels earned and a satisfying result fo hard work. The ability to destroy a target and evade missile fire feels rewarding, especially as F-117A Nighthawk throws unexpected moments. Some missiles will miss their targets, even on the ground. and players circle back to land a direct hit. Sustained damage can damage important components to the aircraft, including radar and fuel systems. If all else fails, an ejection system allows players to escape their doomed ship, but may also have you fall into enemy hands. Gameplay in F-117A Nighthawk is rewarding overall, and doe give the sensation of stimulation through its mechanics. Still, the gameplay can be daunting for players, but fortunately, F-117A Nighthawk the game contains save states and special rewind features.


If players encounter difficult in F-117A Nighthawk, they may save their state at any time during the mission, and load it later, giving players a chance to appreciate the game without being discouraged from the game’s difficulty. Most notable is a special rewind feature that can rewind up to thirty seconds of gameplay in real-time. At any one given moment, the ZR button the Switch can be pressed to rewind the game, like a VHS tape. Despite this, F-117A Nighthawk contains a password-based save system, meaning that at the end of each mission, a certain code is needed to be able to load your progress. it’s archaic, but its another nostalgic reminder of a time long gone by.


F-117A Nighthawk can be difficult initially, but for those up to the challenge of learning, F-117A Nighthawk is a solid and rewarding combat simulator. F-117A Nighthawk is remarkable and innovative, especially for its time, and seeing it now is more appreciative. Despite console limitation and control issues, F-117A Nighthawk is a well-built combat simulator, from its mechanics to its terminology. For those that are up for the challenge and have the right stuff, F-117A Nighthawk is worth the ride.


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