Standing between you and a high score are sharks that randomly patrol up and down the screen. The manner in which the sharks propel themselves through the water looks very realistic. Be careful near the edges of the screen, as sharks tend to enter unexpectedly. Losing a life results in a cool splash sound.
Each new screen is introduced with the image of a female superhero with a fox logo on her helmet. Occasionally that logo appears on the screen and you can go after it for bonus points. The challenge ramps up nicely, with additional, faster-moving sharks gradually added to the mix. Aquatically-accurate and seasonally fun, Marine Fox is a welcome addition to the Vectrex library. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
You can fire rapidly, and the screen is often filled with star-shaped explosions. When certain types of mines are shot, they will send a secondary object your way, so stay alert! Also beware of the flying saucers, which make a beeline toward you! Hyperspace is often the only option. The only problem with this game is a programming bug which causes it to freak out after level 13. But to make it that far would be a major accomplishment. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
I like how the game begins with an ominous hum. The first stage is the obligatory trench scene where you fly a starship down the center, shooting at bow ties approaching from the distance. These are "tie fighters" in the most literal sense! The illusion of flight is smooth but uneventful. It's hard to tell how close you can get to the side without touching the wall and blowing up.
Shooting down tie fighters maintains your fuel supply through a process scientists have yet to explain. The second stage is when things get a little weird. This time you're approaching layers of glass panels with rectangular openings you need to fly through. If you had a problem with depth perception in the first stage, you'll be in for a world of hurt.
I did manage to get through it eventually, and I like that satisfying "whoosh" sound as you successfully pass through each pane. After that it's back to the trench with a lot more random shapes coming down the pike. Narrow Escape is okay but I couldn't help but think this isn't how it was meant to be played. It could be dynamite with a pair of those 3D goggles, but I guess we'll never know. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Nebula Commander's screen is set up with two planets on opposite sides, each controlled by a player. By employing a tractor beam you mine crystals to build up your planet's energy. Energy is used to construct missiles and destroyer ships, which are then unleashed upon your opponent. Mining the crystals efficiently requires using momentum to your advantage, and you'll want to concentrate on the ones approaching at a favorable trajectory.
When constructing weapons, you'll need to find a proper balance. You can build and unleash missiles in a rapid-fire fashion (sweet) but destroyers linger near your opponent and can gradually chip away at him. There's also a defensive element to the game, as you can engage a shield to temporarily protect your planet from an incoming barrage. Put it all together and you get a competitive title that works on many different levels.
If the game has a flaw, it may be how hard it is to move your cursor with precision (with the standard Vectrex controller at least). Also, the CPU is entirely too smart and efficient to compete against - although it's fun to watch him take care of business. Nebula Commander is a pleasant surprise, and once you get the hang of the controls you'll wonder why you never heard of this game before. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
On the other hand, you can still unleash a wall of bombs to produce some cool chain reactions. The sneaky satellites need to be hit dead-on or trapped between explosions. Don't ignore the UFOs or planes that rain missiles from down low. For some reason there are only two missile bases, despite the fact that the Vectrex controller could easily have supported a third (there are enough buttons).
The targeting cursor is responsive but I wish I could move it closer to the sides of the screen. Patriots has its share of slowdown when the action grows intense, but otherwise the graphics and sound effects are quite faithful. Patriots is a respectable effort, but in terms of fun it doesn't approach the level of Missile Command. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Its first-person view features a simple instrument panel on the bottom of the screen which indicates your speed, torpedoes, and radar. The illusion of movement is conveyed adequately using white bubbles, and realistic sound effects include the soft hum of your engine and those familiar sonar "pings" heard in all the submarine movies. While tracking survivors on radar, you'll encounter enemy subs and floating mines.
Avoiding the mines is easy, but dealing with enemy subs can be a headache. Once you enter "battle mode", you're stuck there until you eliminate them. It's very hard to determine their position and bring them into sight, and your torpedoes aren't the most accurate things in the world. It's more confusing than fun. Worse yet, if you run out of torpedoes, you're pretty much screwed.
Should you manage to locate a survivor pod, you must dock with it by moving extremely slow towards it. This exercise is far more tedious and aggravating than it should be. Once docked, a nice ramp extends to the pod and transports the survivor aboard. After that, the game goes into a brief "reverse instant replay" mode before proceeding to the next stage. I tried to give Polar Rescue a fair chance, but this game is simply not very fun. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
The mountains in the background look fine, but the signs displaying odd symbols on the side of the road look silly. The game uses the first two buttons to shift, and the others to accelerate. The precise control makes it easy to weave through traffic. Pole Position has the same musical tunes as the arcade version, and the engine sound effects are pretty good also. This is a nice change of pace from all the shooters on this system. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Protector's four-button control scheme (reverse, thrust, fire, smart bomb) is tough to master, but while some may consider that a flaw, I love it because it feels just like the button layout of the original arcade game! The side-scrolling shooting action is hectic as you fly over a planet surface while blasting alien landers and catching their free-falling human cargo for bonus points.
The angular mountain surface is dead-on, and the tiny people are extremely well detailed. When you activate a smart bomb, two horizontal lines appear and effectively "wipe" the screen. Sweet! When you run out of smart bombs, the "4" button functions as hyperspace instead (now that's smart!) The sound effects are dead-on, and as the coup de gras, the cartridge even saves your top five scores! Protector is as good as anything I've played on the Vectrex, and the addition of Y.A.S.I. just sweetens the deal. Y.A.S.I. might seem a little slow, but I love the classic control scheme (use buttons to move left and right). © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
The controls are your standard rotate, thrust, and shoot. Unlike other shooting games, you have an unlimited number of ships; the game ends when all of your cells are depleted. The problem with Rip Off is that there's no real strategy. What saves it from total mediocrity is the ramping challenge and a nice two-player mode. Otherwise it's just another forgettable shooter. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Once you start breaking up the rocks, slow-down begins to creep in, bringing the game down to a more manageable pace. Like Minestorm, Rockaroids is relentlessly addictive, and you'll keep coming back to beat your high score. I like how buttons one and two are used to turn (instead of the joystick) - it feels more like the old arcade game. The other two buttons are used for thrust and fire, and pulling down on the joystick activates your hyperspace. If you're looking for shooting excitement, Rockaroids is all that! © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Spike's Big Vectrex Page, Retro Video Gamer, Moby Games, Garry's Gaming Blog