system Index A-C
All Good Things
Grade: B-
Publisher: John Dondzila (1996)
Reviewed: 2002/6/14

screenshotHere's a nifty four-game package by Vectrex programming whiz John Dondzila. The title screen is captivating, and a nice menu makes it easy to select a game. The first entry, "Rockaroids", pays homage to the arcade classic Asteroids. Yes it's an easier game, and there's some slowdown when things get busy, but the game is still crazy fun.

The second title, "More Invaders", is a sequel to Vector Vaders (a Space Invaders clone). While it tends to be somewhat plodding, cool extras like bombing UFOs and splitting aliens elevate the gameplay above the first installment. The third game is "Vectris", an ill-advised adaptation of Tetris. The flickering is awful, and the slanted blocks are extremely hard to align. After one play, I had enough.

The final entry is a cross between Kickman (early 80's arcade game) and Kaboom (Atari 2600). In Spike's Water Balloon, you move the pointy-headed creature from side to side across the bottom of the screen, bursting water balloons being tossed by an anonymous monster with fangs. You also have the ability to "kick" balloons that fall just out of your reach back to the top.

While it sounds pretty fun, the game becomes really hard to control by the third stage, and soon degenerates into a button-mashing affair. Annoying pauses between rounds don't help matters. In addition to these four games, there's an extra puzzle game hidden somewhere in the cart. All Good Things is a mixed bag, but there's plenty of gaming here for your money. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Vector Vaders 2: The Director's Cut (Vectrex)
Spike Hoppin' (Vectrex)
Vector Vaders (Vectrex)
Space Invaders (Atari 5200)
Alien Invaders (Arcadia 2001)

Armor Attack
Grade: B
Publisher: GCE (1982)
Reviewed: 2002/6/14

screenshotArmor Attack plays like a 2D Battlezone. As you guide a jeep around a wide-open maze, enemy tanks approach from the edges. While the tanks are immobilized with one shot, they'll continue to return fire until you finish them off with a second shot. After destroying each wave, a helicopter zooms overhead and tries to bomb you. The menacing copter looks great, especially after you nail it and send it spinning out of control. You can aim quickly with your joystick and fine-tune your turret with the 1 and 2 buttons (a great feature).

The controls are responsive, and your fast-moving jeep is smoothly animated. Your missiles are large, which makes it tough to shoot through narrow areas. The game features some awesome sound effects, such as military drums during the title screen, and the realistic sound of the helicopter. Unfortunately, the programmer forgot to add the sound effects for exploding tanks (whoops)! Armor Attack has three challenging game variations and a two-player mode to boot. This game is very well suited to the Vectrex. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 25400
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Tanks But No Tanks (Atari 2600)
Armor Ambush (Atari 2600)
Maze (Fairchild Channel F)
Battlezone (Atari 2600)
Tanks A Lot (Arcadia 2001)

Grade: B
Publisher: GCE (1982)
Reviewed: 2001/9/2

screenshotIt's very rare that I stumble across a game with as much originality as Bedlam. Its closest relative is probably Tempest, but there are more than enough unique features that set this game apart. In Bedlam, you control a ship in the middle of a star-shaped "vector". Your job is to shoot enemies which approach from each vertex. You can't move your ship; you can only rotate it. For emergency situations, you have one smart bomb per level. Clear a level, and you're whisked off to a more challenging stage.

The first few stages are pretty uneventful, but in later levels, things start to get crazy. The vector begins to shrink, leaving you less room for error. Fortunately, you can push the edges back out by shooting them. Later stages feature ROTATING vectors. This not only makes the game more difficult, but it can make you dizzy as well. If you're tired of all the copy-cat shooters, Bedlam is a breath of fresh air. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: JDH 27,150
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Yoshi's Cookie (NES)
China Syndrome (Atari 2600)
Einhander (Playstation)
Arcade's Greatest Hits: Atari Collection 1 (Playstation)
Tempest 2000 (Jaguar)

Grade: D-
Publisher: GCE (1982)
Reviewed: 2020/3/30

screenshotBerzerk is a good fit for the Vectrex. The original arcade game didn't employ vector graphics but it certainly could have, considering the mazes are just a bunch of straight lines. Each screen challenges you to escape from a maze of shooting robots. Compared to other popular versions like Berzerk (Atari 2600, 1982) this one features more elaborate mazes and more robots. Is it me or do these robots bear an uncanny resemblance to Minions?

This Vectrex version allows you to fire multiple shots at a time, and I love the sparkly explosions. I find it easier to shoot robots via diagonal shots while remaining out of their line-of-sight. A round head named Otto emerges if you take too long, bouncing directly toward you and through the walls. He's invincible but it's fun to make him smash into the last remaining robots. This is clearly how you're meant to destroy robots fully enclosed in a square.

While slow at times, Berzerk maintains the spirit of its arcade roots. What ruins the game are its bugs. There are collision detection issues and during advanced stages the score is prone to go haywire, shooting up to 134K or something like that. It's a shame, but all hope is not lost. Somebody fixed the bugs, and now you can find Berzerk Debugged (also known as Berzerk 2) on Vectrex multicarts. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 4390
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Berzerk Debugged (Vectrex)
Berzerk (Atari 2600)
Frenzy (Colecovision)
Escape (Arcadia 2001)
Marauder (Atari 2600)

Berzerk Debugged
Grade: B+
Publisher: GCE (1982)
Reviewed: 2020/3/30

screenshotBerzerk was one of the few well-known arcade hits ported to the Vectrex, so it's a shame it was shipped bug-ridden. Fortunately a very nice Vectrex fan took it upon himself not only to repair the game but make it better. Sure enough Berzerk Debugged captures all the harrowing elements of the arcade as you try to escape screen after screen of deadly but half-witted robots. Debugged plays just like the original but I noticed my shots travel faster and I like that!

Each screen plays out like a little strategy game. The first thing you always need to do is clear out any robots in the immediate vicinity. The game will sometimes initially position a few alarmingly close! Next, you need to quickly map your route, choosing one of several exits. Do you take the roundabout path so you can eliminate that last robot, or duck out quickly to live another day?

The robots tend to be a little gun-shy, making them easier to clear out. Clearing the room awards you with a bonus, and believe me, you're gonna want that bonus. The bouncing Evil Otto chases you out if you dawdle and I've had many close scrapes with that bastard. Berzerk Debugged is a pretty terrific game. The only thing missing is the arcade's voice synthesis. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 10,550
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Berzerk (Vectrex)
Berzerk Voice Enhanced (Atari 2600)
Berzerk (Atari 5200)
Frenzy (Colecovision)
Escape (Arcadia 2001)

Birds of Prey
Grade: C
Publisher: John Dondzila (1999)
Reviewed: 2001/9/25

screenshotJohn Dondzila is "the man" when it comes to bringing classic arcade games to the Vectrex, but this adaptation of Phoenix misses the mark somewhat. As in the classic shooter, you face two stages of small birds, two stages of large birds, and finally the huge mothership. The first stage is tough because your missiles don't move very fast. Fortunately, some of the birds can be taken out with your shield.

The second stage is my favorite because you can shoot twice as fast, making it easier to clear the screen. Both of the large bird stages are pretty much identical. But unlike the arcade game, you can't shoot their wings off, and you have to nail them DEAD CENTER in order to kill them. These levels are long and tedious, but at least the birds split into meaty chunks.

The mothership stage is a disappointment - it looks kind of junky. Instead of shooting away at the hull, a huge hole already exists. A fleet of birds is present to defend it. It's nice to see a childhood favorite on the Vectrex, but this failed to rekindle the old nostalgia. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: SW 12920
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Space Vultures (Arcadia 2001)
Spike Hoppin' (Vectrex)
Condor Attack (Atari 2600)
Phoenix (Atari 2600)
Vector Vaders 2: The Director's Cut (Vectrex)

Grade: A-
Publisher: GCE (1982)
Reviewed: 2001/9/25

screenshotOn first impression, watching X's and squares moving across a grid doesn't sound very exciting, but Blitz is a fine two-player game. If you've played Atari 2600 Football, you know what kind of simplistic fun we're talking about here. There are six players on each side, and six different formations (including kick/punt). The quarterback can run the ball or throw passes which can be "steered" toward receivers.

On defense you control a single player that moves faster than the others. It sounds pretty weak, but it's actually a lot of fun. Given the technology, this game is quite an achievement. When passing, it takes skill to "thread the needle" between the defenders. When running, you can use your blockers to slow down pursuers.

Best of all, when a player is tackled - he explodes! You won't see that in Madden! After each game a nice statistics screen is presented. I thought that was a really nice touch. There's also a one-player mode, but it's only intended for practice. Blitz is a pleasant surprise. It's a fun, competitive game on a system not known for sports titles. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

2 players 

If you like this game, try: Football Frenzy (Neo Geo)
Super Pro Football (Intellivision)
Realsports Football (Atari 5200)
Joe Montana Football (Game Gear)
Football (Atari 2600)

Circus Vectrex
Grade: C+
Publisher: GCE (2015)
Reviewed: 2020/3/30

screenshotEvery single classic system must have a knock-off version of Circus Atari (Atari 2600, 1978). It's the law for crying out loud! Fire up Circus Vectrex and you're subjected to an otherworldly rendition of the classic circus theme. As if that song wasn't creepy enough, this version has a dreamlike quality that conjures visions of demented clowns. Yikes!

The graphics in Circus Vectrex aren't likely to win any awards, unless it's an award for worst graphics I suppose. Two fat clowns take turns bouncing off a teeter-totter you move across the bottom, popping "balloons" up top for points. Now I understand vector graphics are inherently straight, but at the very least I would expect the balloons to be square. But we don't even get squares! No, there are rows of floating dashes instead. Were these placeholders for something better? We may never know.

Anyway when the action begins the flicker resembles an old Charlie Chaplin movie, although things get faster and smoother as you clear away those perfectly flat balloons. I love how the angular clowns rotate as they are propelled upward. They look just like Gru from Despicable Me! The game is played in relative silence except for a little jingle you hear upon completing a row.

Why do I even like this game? It's the raw challenge. The games are short and the action is nonstop. It demands quick reflexes and the controls are very good. I found it somewhat addictive. It may not look like the Greatest Show, but Circus Vectrex delivers simple fun under the big top. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 460
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Circus Atari (Atari 2600)
P.T. Barnum's Acrobats (Odyssey 2)
Circus (Arcadia 2001)
Yoshi's Cookie (NES)
Super Circus AtariAge (Atari 7800)

Clean Sweep
Grade: F
Publisher: GCE (1982)
Reviewed: 2001/9/15

screenshotI think I'm going to be ill. There are good Pac-Man clones and there are bad Pac-Man clones. Then, there's this one. In some ways it's downright appalling. According to the idiotic background story, you are a vacuum in a bank (shaped like a maze, of course) and robbers are in pursuit. There are four special rooms in the corners of the bank that allow you to "supercharge" and turn the tables.

Okay, it's not very original, but is it fun? Hell no! First off, this game is long and moves as slow as molasses. I couldn't wait for it to end! Even worse, your vacuum can only hold so many "coins", so you must periodically return to the center for emptying. But perhaps the worst travesty of all are the Pac-Man sound effects. They're good, but shamelessly pilfered from a far superior game. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 6450
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Pac-Man Collection (Atari 7800)
Better Pac-Man, A (Atari 2600)
Jr. Pac-Man (Atari 5200)
Crazy Gobbler (Arcadia 2001)
Cosmic Chasm (Vectrex)

Cosmic Chasm
Grade: C
Publisher: GCE (1982)
Reviewed: 2003/1/16

screenshotChasm tries to spice up the old space shooter formula by incorporating some new elements, but the end result is pretty unspectacular. Your mission is to navigate a maze of underground rooms and destroy a power structure in the center chamber. Each room has an expanding core and eight kamikaze planet protectors (diamonds) that try to ram you.

Your ship looks a lot like a Y Wing fighter (for all you Star Wars fans), and it can rapidly fire double-shots. This formidable firepower will clear out most rooms in short order, although occasionally one of the diamonds, which are small enough to squeeze between the double shots, will get through. That's when you'll want to use your shield.

After emptying a room, use your drill to open one of several exits. Employing the drill sounds somewhat inventive, but in fact it's slow and tedious. Once you make it to the center chamber, you must plant a bomb and escape the maze in 15 seconds. Since there's no marked entrance, where exactly you're supposed to go is a mystery. Cosmic Chasm is okay, but it didn't give me a tingling sensation. Its sum is less than its parts. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 7225
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Star Castle (Vectrex)
Reactor (Atari 2600)
Star Wars: Death Star Battle (Atari 5200)
Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (GameCube)
Suicide Mission (Atari 2600)

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