MB Vectrex V-Z

Alien Brigade – By Atari

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 V-Hockey – By Revival Studios

V-Hockey is a top-view arcade-style rendition of ice hockey for our favorite vector console. This homebrew game is well made and reminds me of Hat-Trick. In V-Hockey you play one of two teams and you can go against the AI or against a friend. Each team is comprised of one player and one goalkeeper and you control both simultaneously! As you can imagine, having to control both the player and the goalkeeper adds to the challenge as you need to decide where your attention needs to be at any given moment. Are you going on the offensive and controlling the player or on the defensive and controlling the goalkeeper. Timing is of essence and split-second decisions have to be made to either make the goal or keep your opponent from making a goal. The game gives you 90 seconds to play and whoever has the most points when time’s up is the winner. The players are well drawn and animated and the teams can be distinguished according to their brightness. The playing field is rather simple to look at but it does the job. I have to wonder if it might have been possible to add a few more details to the playing field to make it more eye-pleasing or if an overlay could be made to add more detail. While you can play that game as it is (it has three difficulty levels), there are a couple of tricks that can be used to change gameplay. When the game starts (before the ReVival Studios logo appears) pressing buttons 1 and 3 access what is called “Insane” mode. If at the start you press 2 and 4, you are given a customization menu that lets you change multiple game parameters such as speed, acceleration, and latency. This allows you to make the game as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. Nice touch that adds replay value to V-Hockey. V-Hockey also offers VecVox support which will limit gameplay to single-player mode.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Vaboom! - By Ronen Habot

If you enjoy playing Kaboom! on an Atari console, you are sure to enjoy Vaboom! on the Vectrex. This game is a clone of that Activision favourite and it is well executed while introducing its own twists. You start the game with three “paddles” aligned vertically that you move horizontally in order to pick up the bombs thrown at you by a mad bomber. If you miss any of the bombs you lose one of your paddles and keep losing them until they are all gone, ending the game. On occasion, an X-shaped bomb will be dropped which will also make you lose a paddle if you happen to pick it up. So, these are bombs that you don’t want to touch. Also, at times, some of the bombs will bounce back towards the bomber inflicting some “damage” so that when you hit the bomber 10 times you will taken to a bonus round in which missing bombs will not cost you any paddles where every bomb you catch is worth three times the amount of points when compared to the normal rounds. In addition to the X-shaped bombs, you need to keep and eye out for hearts and diamonds that will be thrown down. Hearts will give you a paddle, while diamonds give you 10 times the amount of points awarded for a regular bomb. Vaboom! can be played using the standard Vectrex controller, a modified Atari 2600 paddle controller, or the new Overdrive Paddle controller for the system. I find that playing the game with a paddle controller is much better and makes the game more enjoyable. Vaboom! comes in the Ronen Habot cart together with VectRace.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 VecMania - By John Dondzila

This compilation cartridge marks the first 64K cartridge ever made for the Vectrex. There are six complete games as well as two playable demos to enjoy. Star Fire Spirits is, perhaps, the best game on this cartridge. It is a clone of Star Wars: The Arcade Game and it works pretty well. You have to first destroy waves of Tie Fighters, followed by skimming over a planet’s surface to destroy laser towers, next comes a narrow chasm that takes you to where you bomb the planet’s core. Definitely a well suited game for the Vectrex. Repulse is a very difficult game where you must destroy a Mother Fortress by attempting to shoot a vessel in the center of said fortress. The trick is that you must get a shot down a shaft that is constantly moving. Not easy! Sentries attack you but they don’t destroy you. They just want to push you to toward the fortress so you die on impact. Birds of Prey is a clone of the arcade game Phoenix. Waves of birds attack you before you have to deal with a mothership. The bird waves are very close to Phoenix but the large birds require a precise shot to their center to be killed (you can’t clip off their wings). Three new remix versions of Vector Vaders, Patriots, and Rockaroids are also included. Disc Duel, a pseudo-3D Tron-like game, and Abyss, a Tempest clone, are the two demos included. Definitely a great compilation of games!

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 VecSports Boxing - By Manu Pärssinen

In VecSports Boxing you have the chance to train for a fight (single-player mode) or fight against a friend (two-player mode). You can think of the single-player mode as a way to learn and master the controls for the game as your “coach” directs you to punch high (1) or low (3) or block high (2) or low (4) against a punching bag. During the training sessions you have to master the controls and you have to do it fast or you lose (you are only given a certain number of seconds to follow the instructions of the coach). You do have a choice of boxers which include Forge, Spike, Igor or Jake. The body of all of them looks the same (effectively drawn as stick figures) but their heads change for each character. As far as I can tell, there is no difference in the characteristics of each of them other than their appearance. The two-player mode is where the real fight begins and, I suppose, it should be done after both players have had a chance to “train” for a bit. This mode gives a totally new feel to the game as you are not just following instructions but actually punching someone else until you win. It is just much more fun!

Review by TrekMD

6/10

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 Vectopia - By John Dondzila

Here is the second 64K cartridge for the Vectrex with a whole different set of games and demos for you to enjoy. Trakkers is a clone of a game called Targ. You control a ship on a grid and you must maneuver through the grid while destroying enemies called Trakkers. These guys don’t fire early on but that changes after a few waves. There’s also a Hunter Killer Tracker that will do everything possible to destroy you. Wormhole is the second complete game and it is a clone of Gyruss. Your ship moves in a circle on the outer edge of the screen as you destroy incoming enemies. There are some ships that grant you bonus points or power ups as well. These will be protected by Sentries but destroying them is well worth it. Though the gameplay is excellent, there is none of the great music from the arcade. A new version of Spike’s Water Balloons is also included but this one has been modified to only work with the original analog controllers for the Vectrex. Digital controls will not work. Gameplay is unchanged. Vectropolis 500 is very similar to Indy 500. This demo is unfinished and can only be played against other people (there is no AI). A total of nine tracks are available and up to four people can play. Four draft games (Mad Planetoid, Star Fire Levels 1 and 2, and Star Fury) are also included and there’s a program to test your controllers. Lots of games but not as good a compilation as Vecmania.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Vector Pilot - By Kristof Tuts

Vector Pilot is a clone of Time Pilot and it is one of the best Vectrex games I have played. In this game you pilot a combat plane which travels through time to destroy its targets. As time advances, your enemies become more sophisticated in their technology, making the game progressively harder. Your enemies range from biplanes to flying saucers! You control the combat plane which is always in the middle of the screen but appears to move as everything else shifts location. The animation of the clouds is superb and effectively gives you the illusion of movement. A bar at the top of the screen lets you know how many more targets you have to eliminate before you get to face the mothership, destroy it, and move to the time period. In addition to destroying enemy ships, you can pick up pilots in parachutes for bonus points. Your enemies can destroy you by colliding with you, shooting at you, or throwing bombs at you. The time warp between levels is amazing and works extremely well with the overlays available for this game. There are, in fact, three different overlays to choose from, all of which are superbly made and color the game well. There are also some amazing intermissions that just add to the experience. Sound is also superbly done and you will even hear music from Top Gun (and others) as you are entering your high score. Another great aspect of this game is that you can configure how you control it, you can adjust the screen to work with the overlays, and you can save your scores. There are three levels of difficulty to choose from as well. Truly a lot of work went into making this game and it deserves all the praise it can get.

Review by TrekMD

10/10

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 Vector Vaders - By John Dondzila

Here is a clone of another highly successful arcade game, Space Invaders! As in Space Invaders, Vector Vaders has multiple rows of marching aliens that attack you ground-based gun as they try to reach that very ground you’re on. Your gun moves left and right and there are four bunkers that can be used to hide from enemy fire. Unfortunately, these bunkers are not indestructible. Though you don’t see damage from the impact of the alien’s guns, the barriers disappear once they’ve been hit 16 times, leaving you vulnerable to attack. In addition to the waves of aliens, motherships do float above them moving across the screen tempting you to hit them. If you manage to do so, you get bonus points. If you manage to clear a full wave of aliens, get ready because another one starts marching your may almost immediately! Vector Vaders was John’s first attempt at cloning Space Invaders for the Vectrex. The game has nice graphics with aliens that come in various shapes but this lead to a slow down issue. This does improve as you start to kill aliens but it can be bothersome. In addition, your gun fires very slowly, which is in stark contrast with how quickly the aliens shoot at you. On a good note, the game has been designed to take advantage of the four buttons on the Vectrex controller in order to better emulate the arcade experience. Sound is minimal but does the job.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 VectRace - By Ronen Habot

Vectrace is the second game included in Ronen Habot’s collection cart and, as the name suggests, it is a racing game. Vectrace offers three levels of play with increasing difficulty. The purpose is for the player to race other vehicles on a three-lane road that is seen overhead so that a particular number of vehicles is passed in a specified time period. On level one, the player must pass 35 vehicles in 45 seconds, on level two 65 vehicles in 35 seconds, and on level three 30 vehicles in 25 seconds. As you can imagine, this is not easy to accomplish! If you don’t pass the required number of vehicles in the required time, you lose one of the five vehicles you are given to play with and start the level again. One interesting aspect of VectRace is that you do not automatically lose your vehicle if you hit another racer, instead your vehicle shows signs of damage until it is destroyed. Once destroyed, you start again with a new one. Vectrace can be played using the standard Vectrex controller, a modified Atari 2600 controller, or the new Overdrive Paddle controller. Even with the paddle or Overdrive, this game is fair at best. Since you get this game together with Vaboom!, it is hard to complain much about it but I think it could have been better. Certainly the racing vehicles could have been made to better resemble race cars. Sound is somewhat annoying also as the engine sound (I think that’s what it is supposed to be) is some scratchy thing that is hard to describe. On a positive note, you do see the score on the right side of the screen (along with the high score) and on the left side you can see a timer, your speed (12 being your max speed), and a score based on your vehicle’s body (10 if it has no damage, lower score as it becomes damaged).

Review by TrekMD

5/10

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 Vectrexians - By Kristof Tuts

Vectrexians is an excellent port of another beloved arcade game, Galaxians. 20 waves of aliens are attacking your home world and you have been charged with destroying the invaders. When Vectrexian starts, you are welcome to a nicely animated title screen followed by a menu to either start or calibrate the game. Once calibration is completed, hit “start game” to then be offered to select a one or two-player game as well as the level (1-easy, 2-normal, and 3-hard). You move your ship at the bottom of the screen from right to left as you shoot your enemies, which will be in formation at the top of the screen and will send “pawns,” “enforcers,” or guiders to attack you. Every so often, one of the two (or up to four) leader ships will come down in formation with two guiders to attack you. If you are able to destroy all three of them in the right sequence, you get big points. This game reproduces the experience of Galaxian almost to perfection. The graphics are superbly done and the animation is excellent. I love watching the enemy ships come down ‘a la Star Wars’ as they rotate to attack, definitely a nice touch. Sounds are excellent and emulate the arcade sounds very well. The overlay included with this game works well and separates your player area, the pawns/enforcers/guiders and the leader ships effectively. The only aspect of this game that some folks may not like is that you do not see your score during gameplay. You know you’ve reached a multiple of 4000 points because you earn an extra ship every 4000 points and there is both a tune and a notification on the screen about it. If you enjoy Galaxians, Vetrexians is for you!

Review by TrekMD

9/10

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 Vectris - By John Dondzilla

Tetris is a game that has captivated many and that has been adapted to many different consoles and handhelds. It is only fitting that this classic be adapted to the Vectrex. Vectris may have simpler graphics than other versions of Tetris, but the game elements are there. You control the pieces my moving them side to side with the joystick or having them drop faster by moving the joystick down, while using buttons 3 or 4 to rotate the pieces to fit together to form the much wanted lines. The next piece is displayed as a simple graphic on the top left of the screen while the number of lines you’ve been able to make appears on the top right. Tetris is a game that is well adapted to both colour and monochromatic screens, so it works well on the Vectrex. I have played with an overlay that fills the screen with graphics and leaves the play area clear. While nice to have, it is not necessary to enjoy the game. One thing that is different from other versions of Tetris that I’ve played is that once a piece falls in place, that’s it. No chance to try to rotate it last second or do anything last second, so making mistakes here is easier if you are not careful. Another aspect that is missing is the game music, something that always adds to the ambience with Tetris. The sounds the game does have are effective, even if simple. Regardless, the game is both challenging and fun to play and one I have no problem recommending. If you like Tetris, this is a game you’ll enjoy. In order to get Vectris, you’ll need to get the All Good Things cartridge or ROM since it is part of that compilation of games.

Review by TrekMD

7/10

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 War of the Robots - By George Pelonis

War of the Robots opens up with a very nice title screen with music where you see the words “War of the obots” until one of the robot walkers comes in and takes the place of the “R” to complete the word. Once you start the game you are in control of a walker equipped with a laser gun that you target with crosshairs, a radar screen, and a data screen. The radar lets you know where your enemies are so you can try to target them when they are in front of you. The enemy robots are two-legged machines that move pretty quickly and shoot at your from anywhere (so, you may get hit by their fire when they are behind you). Unfortunately, there is no quick way for you to turn around to attack them. You’ll have to keep pushing until they’ve done the full circle and are visible in front of you. hen the walkers fire at you, you can use your lasers to destroy their shots and avoid damage. nd speaking of shots, use them wisely. Your laser fire is finite and once you run out of it, you have no way to replenish it. I like how the game looks. he display panels are well animated and the robots are nicely done. Unfortunately, the game does come short in the gameplay department. It is unclear how many robots you have to destroy or how you advance in the game. Overall a fair game on the system.

Review by TrekMD

6/10

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 War of the Worlds - By George Pelonis

War of the Worlds is an adaptation of an arcade game of the same name released by Cinematronics in 1979. This Vectrex port is a one-player game and has two difficulty levels to choose from. You are charged with defending Earth from the Mars invaders who attack you on their tripod crawlers and with fast-moving shurikens. You are equipped with a droid-controlled turret pod that you can move left and right at the bottom of the screen. Your pod is equipped with a twin guns and shields. Though your guns have unlimited ammo, you are limited to using your shield five times only. This limitation increases the game difficulty because the tripods shoot a laser beam that sweeps the entire bottom of the screen. You’ll need to move fast to stop them from shooting because once your shields are gone, you have no other way protecting your pod from those lasers. Once you’ve destroyed a wave of tripods, there is a bonus round where a mothership drops the shurikens. You must destroy them all in order to get the bonus points. As I said, this is not an easy game but it is well made and well worth it. The animation of the tripods is fantastic! As you shoot them, they lose segments of their legs but continue moving about. If you destroy all the legs, you have to be certain to destroy the head or it will simply “grow” new legs and come at you faster. If a tripod is shooting its laser, you can attempt to shoot it down (if you are on the opposite side of its movement, so you don’t have to use your shields) to stop the laser beam.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Web Wars – By GCE

Web Wars (a.k.a, Web Warp in some markets) is an original game in which you are a space hawk that is traveling through a web of fantasy (think: trench) in order to capture 20 different prizes while avoiding enemies. Your enemies are star shaped and travel toward you on the trench (somewhat reminiscent of Tempest) and you must destroy them before they make contact with you or they hit you with their fire. If they reach your location on the web, you can move to some degree forward and backward on the web in order to shoot them. You need to be careful, however, or you’ll end up losing a life rather quickly. While this is happening, the prizes you are supposed to pick up (which are odd-shaped creatures) also are rushing toward you on the web. You can tell them apart from your enemies because they are brighter in appearance. So, how do you capture the critters? Easily, you extend your tongue and grab them. Of course, you can only extend your tongue for so many seconds at a time, so timing is essential. Once you’ve captured a critter, a square doorway appears. You must go through this doorway immediately so you can enter a trophy room where you can see the critters you’ve captured (you’ll see all their odds shapes there) while getting some rest from the frantic web. If you miss the entry into the doorway, a huge space dragon which has pinpoint accuracy will come after you on the web and shoot until it gets you (which usually is very quickly). This game is fun and fast-paced and one that any Vectrex owner should have in their library. ,/td>

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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 Zantis - By George Pelonis

Zantis is a one-player shoot-em-up game for the Vectrex that was inspired by the arcade game Spiders. In Zantis you control a diamond shaped ship that moves horizontally at the bottom of the screen with the goal of shooting the spider-like zantis creatures that are released from a network of webs and nodes on the upper half of the screen. The zantis come down toward the player while remaining tethered to their node of origin. You can shoot the zantis to destroy them or you can avoid contact with them. The zantis keep coming down relentlessly as they try to distract you from your real goal - destroying all the nodes in the periphery of a larger central node. Once you have destroyed all the peripheral nodes, the central node opens up releasing the zantis boss which you now need to destroy before it escapes. The zantis bosses may move straight down, zigzag as they come down, or they may have guards accompanying them. Once you kill the zantis boss, the game restarts at a higher difficulty level. The game speeds up once you reach 1000 points but then will adjust its speed according to how many lives the player has left. This is rather unique for this game and an interesting feature. Visually Zantis is well done with good animation of the zantis and the explosions. The title screen has nice music and the in-game sounds are very good, even if they are simple. This is definitely a nice shooter with fast-paced action that is worth having on the Vectrex.

Review by TrekMD

8/10

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