MB Vectrex A-C

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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  Armor Attack – By GCE

The Atari 2600 has Combat, the Intellivision has Armor Battle, and the Vectrex has Armor Attack. In Armor Attack, however, you drive an armoured Jeep equipped with a rocket launcher. The goal of the game is to eliminate all the enemy targets while dodging their attacks. The “ground” has several barriers that both you and your enemies can use to protect yourself. The enemies come in the form of tanks and a nicely rendered combat helicopter. The helicopter is not restricted in its movements, so it can be challenging to both attack it and avoid its rockets as the game progresses. The animation when the chopper gets hit is fun to watch! The tanks increase in number as the game advances but they are usually easier to handle than the helicopter. They do require two shots to be completely destroyed (the first shot only paralyses them). Though the gameplay is simple, the game is certainly fun. Sound effects are good, particularly when the chopper is flying “overhead.” There is no in-game music but there is music on the title screen that is very military in style. The game has 3 variants, the third one of which makes all barriers invisible. If you have the overlay, you have a better sense of where the barriers are and can more easily play this variant of the game. Without the overlay it can be more challenging but no less fun (in fact, I think it is better to play it without the overlay!). The controller response is excellent and there is a two-player mode.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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  Bedlam – By GCE

When I first turned on this game, I thought I was going to be playing a clone of Tempest. Boy, was I wrong! This game may have been inspired by Tempest but it is it’s own unique game. In Bedlam you are in a ship (which reminds me a lot of the Millennium Falcon) in the middle of a “vector.” You are unable to move from your location but you have the ability to rotate at two speeds in order to target the enemies that come at you from the points of the “vector.” Early on the game is fairly easy but as the levels increase, things get much tougher. The enemies come at you at different speeds and they even have different behaviours. The find the “X” shaped enemies to be the toughest as they stop and change direction and then circle you to try to catch you from behind. At the third level, the game becomes even more challenging as the “vectors” start spinning around as well! To add even more challenge, the “vectors” also shrink as the game advances but you can keep them from doing so by shooting them. In addition to your regular weapon, once each level you have use of a “zap.” The zap lets you kill everything on the screen at once. The animation for this effect is cool. The game let’s you choose the level in which to start (one through three) and has two-player mode included. Definitely a must-have for the Vectrex!

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Berzerk – By GCE

The arcade classic Berzerk was adapted for many consoles and the Vectrex was not left out. If you’ve never played Berzerk I am forced to ask under what rock have you lived all these years? In Berzerk, you are a humanoid trapped in a world of mazes full of robots and their master, Evil Otto. You need to escape each maze by destroying robots and getting to an exit before Otto makes an appearance. Otto cannot be destroyed, so your only alternative is to escape before he reaches you. This means that you cannot take your own sweet time killing robots because Otto will come to get you! Pretty much all elements of the arcade are here except for the voice (“Chicken, fight like a robot! Got the humanoid, got the humanoid!) and the robot colors. The robot colors were useful in the arcade as they tell you something about the aggressiveness of the robots. Since the Vectrex cannot handle colors, it would have been nice if the programmer had made some modification to the robots themselves as the game progresses. Regardless, the robots do have their rotating eyes! This port of the game does play rather slow which can make it less enjoyable. The original game had a bug that would allow for ridiculously high scores but a hack is available as a free ROM that fixes the bug. There is also a ROM called Verzerk that does include voice if you have a VecVox for a more arcade-like experience.

Review by TrekMD

6/10

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  Birds of Prey – By John Dondzila

Birds of Prey is a homebrew adaptation of the arcade game Phoenix, though with some differences. As in the arcade, there are two screens with small birds, two screens with large birds, and the mothership screen. You are equipped with shields and an endless supply of ammo as you shoot the birds out of the sky. Killing the small birds is a much easier task than killing the big birds. You can kill the smaller birds by shooting them or letting the hit your shield. In the arcade, the large birds explode to a two splitting masses when hit in the middle and lose their wings if you hit them on their wings instead of the mid-body. This is missing in Birds of Prey. For better or worse, you must hit these birds square in the middle if you want to get rid of them. This is much easier to do when the wave starts but once they are full-sized birds, you have to be very precise in hitting them. Once you hit them in the middle, the birds do split like in the arcade and, I must say, it looks very well done. The final screen with the mothership is also different. Instead of having to “dig” into the bottom of the ship, there is an opening already in the middle but you must contend with lots of birds defending the mothership plus fire from the mothership itself before you can destroy it. Sound effects for the game are excellent. This title is certainly fun to play and well worth it.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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  Clean Sweep – By GCE

Pac-Man was such a hit that it engendered all sorts of clones during its time. Clean Sweep is one of those clones so the Vectrex fans didn’t feel left out. In Clean Sweep you are a vacuum cleaner at a bank and you are tasked to cleanly sweep up (see what I did?) all the coins that are spread on the bank (AKA, maze) floor. You must do this as “robbers” come into the bank and you must be sure to take the coins back to the “vault” at the centre of the bank if you want to sweep all the coins since you can only carry so many coins. You score points by picking up coins and by returning them to the vault. In order to sweep with the robbers you enter one of the four corner rooms so you become supercharged and turn the tide against them for a limited period of time. While the concept of this game does sound fine, it could have been a bit better. The robbers look nothing like robbers; they look more like pinchers. The game pace is a bit slow but that doesn’t keep you from enjoying it. Sounds, however, are excellent and if you close your eyes you may think you are actually playing Pac-Man (wacca, wacca, wacca). The game has two variations (one with a visible maze, one without) and has a two-player option.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Color Clash - By Revival Studios

The name of this game is rather ironic since the Vectrex is a monochromatic machine. Of course, colours can indeed clash with the use of an appropriate overlay when one plays Color Clash! Color Clash is a homebrew game released by Revival Studios in two formats: a limited edition version that came packed in a standard Vectrex box with a nice (and colourful) overlay in a standard cartridge shell and a “slim” version that comes in a plastic case, has no overlay, and uses a thin cartridge. The gameplay for both is the same but there are some differences between the versions. The slim version has both bitmap and vector graphics (the latter makes it easier to play the game without an overlay) and offers the option for paddle control. Both versions offer VecVox support, an important factor for gameplay as it provides excellent in-game music, as well as an additional Xudoku game as a bonus. The goal of Color Clash is for the player to shoot down a series of falling blocks which are marked with different geometrical shapes (circles, squares, split squares, stars, and triangles) by matching your fire with each geometrical shape. A certain number of blocks must be destroyed with each wave for the player to advance. In addition to the blocks, bonus items fall that alter the playing field’s behaviour. This is an easy game to learn and one that is fun as well. In order for the blocks to better align with the overlay, the game does have a menu that allows the player to adjust the screen positioning. The overlay does add a nice colour element to the game but it is not absolutely necessary to enjoy gameplay thanks to the geometrical shapes. Overall, a very nice game and one I recommend Vectrex owners to get.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Continuum - By George Pelonis

Continuum is the third game in the Sector-X series of games from George Pelonis. This game shares some elements in common with these other games, such as the opening theme music when the Vectrex displays the title screen and the design of your ship. Contiuum is more of a puzzle game, however, and it contains 10 different puzzles that player must figure out in order to complete the experience. These puzzles are The Blackest Heart, Judas Paradox, Sectilius Demonicus, The Darkest Star, The Flames of Perdition, The Wages of Sin, The Eyes of Baphomet, The Elysian Crux, The Enigma of Sorrow, and The Leviathan Conundrum. Each maze has its own level of difficulty and the difficulty varies from maze to maze (difficulty does not progress linearly). The puzzles may not be just puzzles as, on occasion, there may be enemies that you have to deal with before you try to resolve the puzzle. Remember the lovely sectis? Well, they are back and you have to kill them the exact same was as in Sectis. Some of the puzzles have “trick” solutions that, if done wrong, will trap you in them. If you are trapped, you are forced by self-destruct your ship so you can try again. As in Sectis, your ship has shields that can be drained by enemy attack and by the puzzles themselves. So, how do you solve the puzzles? You need to move your ship from vortex to vortex until you have closed all doors. The trick? Each time you move from one vortex to another, the number of open and close vortexes varies. You need to find the right movement combination to close all of them without getting trapped.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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  Cosmic Chasm – By GCE

This is a very interesting and fun game to play. In Cosmic Chasm you fly your starfighter through a number of chambers in order to reach the central core, drop a bomb, and leave the chambers before the bomb goes off. Simple enough? Well, in each chamber you face two challenges: diamond-shaped protectors and an expanding “planet.” Your starfighter is equipped with laser guns, a drill, and shields. You need to eliminate all (preferably) the protectors before the planet expands too much making it impossible for you to move in the chamber and, essentially, making you lose a life. Once you’ve eliminated your targets you move to one of the “doors” and use your drill to open it to move into another chamber. There is a map at the beginning of the stage that shows you how the chambers are connected so you can plot your course through to the central core. Once in the core, you kill of the diamonds, drop the bomb, and then you have 15 seconds to backtrack through the chambers you already cleared to an exit. Exit doors are located in the chambers at the edge of the map. This game is fun and I don’t see it getting boring as you never start in the same chamber, the chambers don’t connect the same way when the game restarts, and there is enough randomness in each chamber to keep you busy. Sounds are pretty good for the game (particularly the drill!)

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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