MB Vectrex O-R

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 Omega Chase - By Christopher Tumber

The original Omega Race was a vector arcade game released in 1981 and one that lent itself quite well for adoption on the Vectrex. Omega Race was adapted for some home consoles (Atari 2600, Colecovision) back in the day and saw its fitting adaptation released for the Vectrex in 2000 as a homebrew game under the name Omega Chase. The story for the game reads as follows: “In the year 2003, the Omega System developed a method of training its warriors to protect their star colonies against Android forces over the city of Komar. Omega fighters raced to engage and destroy these aliens and the mines they planted. The Omega method is so successful, it commands fear and respect from all throughout the galaxies. This method is code named OMEGA RACE.” Clearly, this was not in our reality’s year 2003! The objective of the game is to clear the field of all enemy ships while avoiding collisions with them or the mines they leave on the track. If you take too long, the mine-dropping ships change into fast firing combat ships that are much harder to get rid of. he field is surrounded by an “energy field” and there is another barrier in the center. The shape of the outer and inner barriers changes with each level (unlike the arcade which only had a square track) and they are only visible when the game starts. Once the “race” starts, the barriers are visible only upon hitting them with your ship or by firing at them. You safely bounce off the barriers, so you don’t need to be concerned about damage from them. This is a fun game, an excellent adaptation, and one I highly recommend.

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Patriots - By John Dondzila

Patriots is a homebrew game that is based on the arcade classic, Missile Command. In the arcade classic, you man three bases (a central base with a base at either side of the screen) equipped with missiles that are used to defend cities on the ground as they are attacked from the sky. Your goal is to destroy the enemy bombs and flyers before all your cities are destroyed. This becomes progressively more difficult as the game advances as the attacks become faster and more intense. Never mind the fact that your ammo is limited, so you have to keep an eye on it too because once it is gone, that’s it! You continue playing for as long as you have any city standing by the end of the wave. You score by destroying the enemy and, at the end of a wave, you get a “bonus” for any ammo that is left. All of these elements are kept in Patriots with one exception, instead of three bases, you only have two bases - one at either side of the screen. The attack flyers come in two different kinds: larger ships that shoot new waves of bombs toward your cities at whatever height they are on the screen and small ships that head directly to their targets but that may be smart enough to avoid your attacks. Sound for this game is pretty good and the controls work well. Two additional versions of this game exist: Patriots Remix and Patriots III. Patriots III is a complete rewrite of the game that now includes all three bases and a modified control scheme and visuals. I would call Patriots III the definitive version for this game and the one to get.

Review by TrekMD

Patriots 7/10 / Patriots III 9/10

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 Polar Rescue – By GCE

Polar Rescue is an original game for the Vectrex in which you drive a submarine to rescue survivors from an expedition who are trapped under the polar ice in pods. Your enemy has covered the area with mines which you must avoid and there are submarines playing cat and mouse with you under the frigid waters. You start in a docking bay before you are launched through a tube into open waters. This effect is done well with bubbles rendered to give you the illusion of movement and the sonar sound adds a nice touch. Once out of the base, you use the radar screen at the bottom of the screen to search for the survivor pods, enemy submarines, and mines. This is where things start going South. It is difficult to make things out on the radar. While the mines are easy enough to avoid, the enemy subs are another matter. The programmer tried to add realism to the game by making objects dark when they are far and bright when they are closer but it doesn’t work well. When you find an enemy sub you get locked into “combat mode” and nothing gets you out of that until you either destroy the enemy or they destroy you. Since you can hardly see the enemy subs, attacking them is not easy - never mind the fact that your torpedoes have the accuracy of a blind man! If, among all this, you are able to find a pod, you must then very carefully manoeuver your sub to dock with the pod and rescue the survivors who must then be brought back to the station. I tried to like this game but I just couldn’t.

Review by TrekMD

4/10

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 Pole Position – By GCE

One of the most fascinating things about Pole Position in the arcades was the voice synthesis - “Prepare to qualify!” No matter what version of this game I play, those words go through my head during the countdown for the start of the race. Though the voice is missing from the Vectrex adaptation of Pole Position, the characteristic music has been preserved and the sound effects are done well, contributing to making this a fun gaming experience. In Pole Position you have to drive your race car on a track and beat not only other cars, but the clock as well. Crashing into other cars or the road signs costs you this valuable time and you may not be able to qualify for the actual race. Though the graphics have been simplified for the Vectrex’s vector display, the game preserves enough of the original to be recognized as Pole Position. Maneuvering the car is done with the joystick while you accelerate with buttons 3 or 4 and shift gears with buttons 1 and 2. Control is pretty good and is one of the things that makes this game enjoyable. Your car looks pretty good, though the other race cars don’t fare as well. Regardless, they are drawn well enough. In the background you have Mount Fuji, just like in the arcade, and the road has multiple signs at either side (though they only have symbols on them and not text like on the arcade), signs against which you can impact and explode into smithereens. Pole Position includes a two-player option as well in which players take turns using the same controller.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Protector / Y*A*S*I - By Alex Herbert

If you are into arcade classics, this is a superb double portion served for the Vectrex that is not to be missed. Protector is a shooter based on Defender and Y*A*S*I is almost an exact duplicate of the arcade game Space Invaders (Y*A*S*I stands for Yet Another Spacer Invaders). Both of these games are expertly made and truly shine. Protector is such a good clone of Defender that it even uses a similar control scheme as the arcade game, something made possible by the Vectrex’s unique controller. While this makes for a very accurate control scheme, it also adds to the level of difficulty as you have to get used to using your joystick to move up and own while pushing buttons to thrust, fire, use smart bomb, or warp. By default, buttons 1 and 2 activate thrust, button 3 fires weapons, and button 4 activates the smart bombs until you run out of them, which then turns it into a warp function. If this button combination doesn’t work for you, you can actually reconfigure the buttons in a settings menu within the game (there are four different combinations to choose from). The graphics and sounds in this game are fantastic and closely reflect those of the arcade (your ship and some of the enemy ships have simpler designs but they are effective). The explosions are just as dramatic and the craziness is all there. I can honestly say I was never much good at Defender and I’m honestly not so good at Protector either. That doesn’t stop me from trying this fantastic game!

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Protector / Y*A*S*I - By Alex Herbert

Y*A*S*I is also remarkable. Though this game is simpler when compared to Protector, it is such an accurate rendition from the arcade that it is uncanny. It is hard to believe one is looking at a vector console! In Y*A*S*I, aliens are coming down at you in waves and you have your trusty ship on the ground shooting at them to stop them from reaching the ground. There are barriers you can use to protect yourself but the aliens slowly destroy them with their weapons. Gameplay is remarkably replicated from the original Space Invaders making this game another winner. The cartridge for this game combo has a memory feature to save scores, something that is rare with Vectrex games. Though these games can be played using ROMs that are available online, the ability to save scores does not exist without this special cartridge. Now, go shoot some aliens!

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Revector - By John Dondzila

Revector is an original game for the Vectrex in which you are pitted against your adversary in a timed competition for the highest score. Your opponent may be the computer or a second player. Scoring is achieved by shooting at your adversary and by picking up a series of bonus items that appear on screen. Bonus items only appear in variation 1 of the game, however. These bonus items include hearts that recharge your ships “health,” stars that recharge your ship’s energy, a dollar sign that gives you 1000 points, a spiral that makes your vehicle invisible for a short time, a four point star that gives you 10 smart bullets (these track your enemy) and an arrow that freezes one of the ships for a short time. Depending on the direction the arrow points when picked up it can freeze you or your opponent! That means that you must be careful not to freeze yourself in place! When the game starts both players have full health but no energy, so you need to pick up stars to get energy (or simply wait as energy does slowly replenish on its own). Without energy your weapons will not fire. You can track both your health and energy by looking at the status display that appears at the top of the screen. If one or both players are destroyed before the time is up, the game restarts until the time elapses and a winner is declared. Revector is a curious game that is best enjoyed with a friend.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 Rip Off – By GCE

Rip Off is a port of the arcade game. Your task is to protect your fuel cells (shaped like triangles) which are laid out in the center of the screen. You ship can move freely around the screen as it defends the fuel cells from pirates who are out to steal them. These pirates are a rather brave bunch as they will even do suicide attacks to ensure that their “buddies” get to the fuel cells in the seconds it takes for your replacement ship to appear. Once they’ve taken all the fuel cells, the game ends. Interestingly enough, you have both an endless supply of bullets and ships with which to defend your fuel. If you happen to destroy a pirate ship that is carrying a fuel cell, that fuel cell will be dropped off right where the ship gets destroyed. Rip Off is a game where the overlay adds detail to the playing field. With the overlay over the screen, you have a central area that has a core (where the fuel cells are) and a outer zone. Unfortunately, this is not very helpful as you can’t use this to strategise where you are going to be to better protect your fuel. The enemy ships just appear at random spots with no pattern. Things speed up rather quickly, making it harder to protect your fuel and, boy, can those pirates get frenzy! In addition, the game has 16 different variations to choose from. A two-player simultaneous mode is also part of this game to make things more fun. Not a spectacular game, but not bad either.

Review by TrekMD

6/10

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 Rockaroids Remix - By John Dondzila

Rockaroids Remix is the second version of Rockaroids released and is an enhanced version of this clone of Atari’s Asteroids. Though Asteroids was a game that could have been officially ported to the Vectrex, it was never done back in the day. I’m guessing this was due to licensing issues with Atari. Thankfully, Rockaroids Remix is an excellent clone that any fan of Asteroids will likely enjoy. In Rockaroids, your ship is trapped in a rockaroids field alone with some rather nasty aliens who travel in flying saucers. Your goal is to destroy each and every rockaroid while avoiding an impact with any of these floating space rocks. The action is fast and frenetic and you must be very watchful is you are to survive. Unlike Asteroids, where staying put in the middle of the screen usually works, in Rockaroids you will find yourself having to move about in order to avoid rockaroid impacts. Of course, those nasty aliens don’t help things as they will just shoot at your ship (I guess they don’t realize you are just trying to get out of there just like they are!) or even have collisions with your ship. If you’ve played the original version of Rockaroids, you’ll find Remix to be more intense to play but a far better clone of Asteroids. Sounds are nearly arcade-perfect, which is one added plus. Control emulates the arcade as well. You use two buttons to maneuver, one for thrust, and one for fire. Hyperspace is engaged pulling the joystick. Rockaroids Remix is a winner!

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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