The premise is to avoid incoming missiles while navigating narrow corridors, which requires a great deal of skill (which I happen to possess, by the way). I noticed that the collision detection in this game tends to be fairly lenient. Your wing can overlap the wall a little bit without causing your ship to explode. This game has three difficulty levels. It's pretty tough, and it's unlikely you'll ever reach the enemy base at the very end. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
In addition, there's a "nuke" button that can deploy a bomb that can be detonated from a distance. While the nuke is a good idea in theory, it's hard to use effectively. Enemy ships assume a variety of geometric shapes, and while they initially move in predictable lines, they eventually start zigzagging around, ratcheting up the difficulty.
The most interesting aspect of Solar Quest is your ability to pick up "survivors" for bonus points, providing a much-needed strategic element. Whenever you destroy a ship, it leaves a fuzzy little "pilot" that slowly drifts towards the sun. Snatch him up and you receive substantial bonus points, but it's often a risky proposition. Solar Quest doesn't push the envelope in terms of graphics or gameplay, but this is the type of game the Vectrex does well. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
At first glance this shooter looks like Asteroids - the type of game the Vectrex handles well. But instead of rocks, you target alien ships that merge together to form larger "cruisers" which in turn try to ram your triangular ass. Between stages you "dock" with larger ships, allowing you to shoot sideways, backwards, or concentrate your firepower forward. I found this docking sequence to be a little too long, disrupting the flow of the game a bit. The collision detection can be a little fishy and the frame-rate struggles at times, but in general Space Frenzy is fun. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Unlike other versions of the game the two ships sport unique designs. One has a streamlined look while the other resembles the USS Enterprise. This was necessary because the Vectrex isn't capable of color. The game uses three buttons to fire, thrust, and engage hyperspace. Hyperspace relocates you to a random part of the screen, often at your own peril.
The object is to blast your opponent ten times, although you also score if he collides with the sun or asteroid. Despite its simple premise the action is surprisingly frantic as both ships rapidly unload shots while thrusting wildly around the screen. Space Wars also has an additional feature that caught me off-guard. If you don't land a clean shot on your opponent you'll only damage him, perhaps knocking off a wing. A damaged ship can still function, although it tends to limp around and can only fire intermittently. This adds a lot of excitement, especially when you manage to prevail in your crippled state!
Space Wars is clearly designed for head-to-head action and that's where the game shines. It's less exciting playing against the CPU although still pretty nerve-wracking when tied 9-9 going into the final round. My friends always carry a torch for the Vectrex, so of course they loved this. In a veiled threat Brent informed me that I had to give it least a B+. I relented, but on the condition that you can knock it down by a letter grade if you're playing solo. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Spike's platform-jumping action is pretty standard, but its unconventional viewpoint makes the game stand out. The three moving platforms on the screen are presented at a skewed angle, conveying a nifty illusion of 3D. Controlling the large, pointy-headed Spike character, your first order of business is to grab the key that appears at random locations every few seconds. Scaling the platforms requires using a button to toggle the placement of a ladder between four locations. Besides climbing, you can also jump between gaps on the same platform, or fall in gaps to return to lower levels.
Once you have the key, you must touch the box located near the top of the screen. The problem is, Spike's large size makes it awkward to move him with any degree of quickness or precision. And once baddies like bouncing snakes and flying birds enter the picture, they're practically unavoidable. I really got tired of Spike's frustrating gameplay, and even the voice effects started getting on my nerves after a while. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
The graphics are smooth, the objects are easy to make out, and the gameplay is challenging. Moving the Vectrex joystick diagonally takes a while to get used to, but the controls are fairly responsive overall. There are even some cheats and hidden goodies locked away in this game.
My biggest problem with Spike Hoppin' is its leisurely pace. The action is a little on the slow side, and there are long pauses between levels and lives. There's not much originality here, but if you've ever wanted to play Q*bert on your Vectrex, this should do the trick. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
The table is extremely unbalanced. You can keep the ball going in the top half for long periods of time, but once it falls into the bottom area, you can expect to lose it very quickly. The physics are terrible -- the ball appears to have a mind of its own. The collision detection isn't too hot either, and the ball sometimes gets caught within objects. But the worst aspect is how you can't see your score during play. As far as I'm concerned, a key element of pinball is watching your points rack up as you play.
The constant flicker of the table also gets to you after a while. The one thing Spinball does right is control. The flippers are responsive, and the joystick can be used to nudge the table. Don't get carried away with the nudging, because the game won't hesitate to call a "tilt". Spinball was an ill-conceived title for the Vectrex, and it left me feeling very unsatisfied. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
This is an extremely difficult game. Even if enough holes are created to expose the core, it takes pinpoint accuracy to destroy the star castle. You'll also need to keep an eye out for guided missiles. A good strategy of dealing with them is to use the edge of the screen as an escape route. Star Castle is a real cult classic, and it presents a major challenge to shooter fans. Note: This was the acknowledged influence for the Atari 2600 game Yars' Revenge. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
While it's great fun to play, the level runs a bit long because you have to shoot about 24 ties to advance! Next, you approach a Death Star that looks more like an octagon with a hole in it. In the second stage you shoot towers on the Death Star surface while avoiding ground fire. It's less impressive, and the towers appear to be floating in space.
The final stage sends you down into the Death Star trench for the climactic battle. How is this stage? I'll let you know when I get there! Unfortunately, Star Fire is far too difficult and only has one skill level. Still, I do enjoy the first-person "twitch" shooting that this game has to offer. I think if John polished this one up a bit, it would be 'A' material. Hopefully a sequel is in the works. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
We've seen it countless other times (Colecovision's Buck Rogers and Intellivision's Star Strike come to mind), but never done this poorly. This game features what has to be the sorriest looking trench I've ever seen. The viewing angle is raised so high that it pretty much defeats the whole illusion of depth, and isn't that the whole point? The planet surface is sharply curved, making it appear about the size of a hot air balloon. Finally, the planet spins more like a slot machine than a rotating heavenly body.
Star Hawk's gameplay is limited to moving a crosshair and shooting enemy ships that swoop in and scale across the screen. At least the game makes proper use of the Vectrex analog joystick, so it's very easy to zero in on your targets. Still, the action is monotonous and the collision detection is erratic. The one iota of strategy involves nailing the occasional "command ship", causing your crosshairs to temporarily double in size, and the scoring doubles as well during this period. Star Hawk is a very weak effort. Its whole purpose seems to be to show off a visual effect that's not very good to begin with. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
The first-person point of view means you're just staring at stars and a crosshair until alien ships come into view. Enemies scale and bank smoothly across the screen, and they shatter nicely when blasted. Button three engages a shield which neutralizes their star-shaped projectiles. Button two allows you to "dock" with your space station to recharge your missiles and shield, but this sounds easier than it actually is.
More times than not, enemy ships are swarming as your station comes into view, and it's very easy to accidentally blow it up in the midst of the chaos. Geez, you'd think a huge rotating space station could withstand one lousy photon torpedo! Of course, when you really need to dock with your station, that [expletive] thing is nowhere to be found.
You can also "dock" with a black hole; however, I advise strongly against it! This takes you directly to the Klingon mother ship, which will proceed to pulverize your Vulcan ass in short order. Star Trek probably won't thrill fans of the series, but it should satisfy those looking for some basic shooting action. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Spike's Big Vectrex Page