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Big Blue
Big blue

Limited edition GCE-style box.

Developer Chris Parsons
Publisher Vector Republic
Release dates September 22, 2016 (original limited edition)
April, 2018 (limited edition GCE-style box)
May, 2018 (blue circuit board version)
Genre Adventure
Mode Single player only
Media Cartridge

BackgroundEdit

Take control of a treasure hunting diver in this exciting game of deep sea exploration. Select your dive location, explore to discover many species of fish, and maybe even find the key to a treasure chest for big rewards. But keep an eye on your air supply and watch out for the shark!

Can you explore all the island locations, recover the treasure and discover all the species lurking down below?

GameplayEdit

The player has two goals to achieve during a game: to discover as many fish species and gather as much treasure as possible.

Each game starts off on the map screen, giving the player five choices as to where they should dive to begin their exploring. Once an area is chosen, a boat will take the player’s diver to that location so they can dive towards the sea bed of that area. If, upon making it to the floor bed and there is no key, nor treasure chest, the diver must swim back up to the boat and return to the map screen to pick another dive location to explore.

If a treasure chest is found first, then that dive location will be marked on the map screen. If a key is found first, the player must come into contact with it, which they will keep the key for the rest of that level until they make it to the treasure chest. Once the player makes contact with the chest while holding the key the chest will open and the treasure will be displayed if the player makes it back to the boat, then the next level will begin.

Fish are identified automatically by making it to the sea bed; a new fish is added with every new level.

There are several hazards that the player faces, however, as they have an oxygen level to keep up (denoted by the Air bar at top right of the screen). If the player runs out of oxygen then they will lose a diver and the game will end if all three divers are lost. Additional oxygen can be added if the player comes into contact with air bubbles found on most dive screens, as well as breaking the surface or boarding the boat. Coming into contact with jellyfish will also cost the diver oxygen.

A shark also guards the floor bed, which, if the diver gets too close to the shark, it will be alerted to the diver’s presence and make a beeline for the player. Coming into contact with the shark will cost the player a life, along with causing them to drop whatever they are carrying (being either a key or the treasure). The diver also has a speed burst defense where they can swim faster, although this takes up twice as much oxygen.

The dangers increase with every treasure that is successfully brought onto the boat, as more jellyfish are added to the first diving screen, along with their speed increasing. Moray eels also are added to the depths, having three per screen that move horizontally and will cost the player a diver if they come into contact with one of them. A swarm of jellyfish also start after several levels (which these screens also do not contain any air bubbles), along with caves that do not have any enemies, although the cave walls require the diver to swim around them. At the start of a new game, the player must dive two depths in order to reach the sea floor, plus one screen depth is added for each new level. There are also additional shark screens, along with the sharks becoming more aggressive.

Gameplay, bonus gameEdit

Accessible from the startup menu is a bonus game where the player controls a surgeon fish this time around. Eels, sharks and jellyfish move horizontally from one side of the screen to the other. The player’s fish can produce droppings that will only take out jellyfish (making contact with any other fish or the shark will have no effect). All enemy sea life will start increasing speed as more and more jellyfish are destroyed and if any creature makes contact with the player then the game will end.

ExtrasEdit

Along with the bonus game is the ability to calibrate the air gauge so it will line up with the game’s overlay. Also after a game is a treasures captured and fish identified screen that will show what all the player encountered.

Controls, startup menuEdit

  • Play Big Blue–button 1
  • View Treasure and Fish screens–button 2, then button 1 to view Fish screen
  • Play bonus game–button 3
  • Calibration screen–button 4

(calibration screen)Edit

  • Move air gauge bar–joystick (up/down only)
  • Return to main menu–button 1

(in-game, Big Blue)Edit

  • Go to dive screen–button 1 on map screen
  • Start level/return to map screen from boat–button 1
  • Move diver–joystick or D-pad
  • Boost–button 2
  • Pause game–button 4
  • Unpause–button 3
(in-game, bonus game)Edit
  • Move fish–joystick or D-pad
  • Produce dropping–button 1

ScoringEdit

  • Capturing a fish–1 base point + 1 point per extra depth (i. e. a fish caught during the first level/a depth of 2 is worth a point, a fish caught during the second level/depth of 3 is 2 points, etc.)
  • Collecting treasure–10 points x level (i. e. the first treasure is worth 10 points, the second 20, etc.)

TriviaEdit

  • The game’s idea was suggested to creator Chris Parsons by his son. Work began in February, 2014, with updates put up on the Vector gaming forums, brief videos on Parsons’s YouTube channel and the Facebook group Vectrex Fans Unite!.
  • Changes were made throughout development, such as sharks appearing on several depth screens in a row, along with them eating fish (which would later be left out). A key with a treasure chest could be on the same screen, along with the treasure chest, once unlocked, would have to be returned to, which the player would find a cube in its place, which would contain the treasure. The first treasure was also originally a diamond, rather than a coin as on the later released versions.
  • 200 copies were made of the original game, which were numbered, came with an overlay and a protective box cover later. These boxes were made to look like an original Milton Bradley release with the box design, along with treasures collected and high scores can be written down in the instruction manual, also like an original GCE/Milton Bradley release. The wording on the back of the box was also a recreation of the original GCE/Milton Bradley releases, which read “A whole array of Vectrex game cartridge is available. Space, Adventure, Sports...each challenges you with incredibly real arcade play.” However, the beginning of the last line was changed to “Underwater and Wild West” in regards to Vector Republic’s upcoming game of Outlaw Hill/Frontier. Another run with the boxes resembling the original U. S. A. GCE boxes was released in April, 2018, along with a cheaper version that contained the game on a blue circuit board (rather than a cartridge), along with instruction manual (but with no overlay) that was released the following month. A version that will be a recreation of the Japanese Bandai boxes will also be forthcoming at some point.
  • The production version of Big Blue with many extras was put up on an eBay auction in December 2016. It included three cartridges (one black, one translucent blue [or teal] and one translucent orange), two Big Blue-themed T-shirts and a Christmas card with a special message to the auction winner. Cartridge number 01 was given to Rick Parsons (who was responsible for the box art, overlay and instructions), Chris Parsons's brother. Two copies were also used as prizes during Vector War VII, which included a personal note from Chris Parsons to the winners.
  • The first public showing of the game occurred with the Revival: Winter Warmer expo in November, 2015, along with being shown at the Revival Retro event in Walsall, UK in July, 2016. Big Blue toppers were on display on top of the Vectrexes, along with Chris Parsons wearing a Big Blue t-shirt.
  • The game was released on September 22, 2016 and was sold out by November 12, unlike fellow non-shooter Vector 21 that took two years to sell out, which Big Blue didn’t take a full two months before its 200 copies were gone.
  • Eight different treasures and fish can be found, the final treasure and fish being Vectrex-related. If the player is able to collect all eight treasures then the final treasure and fish will repeat from then on.
  • There is a large and small island on the map screen, which the graphic was taken from an asteroid from the arcade vector game Asteroids.
  • The bonus game is “a graphics hack of the Present Drop game rom” that Chris Parsons “released for free one Christmas”.
  • As of mid-2018, this is one of the very few nautical-themed Vectrex games ever; others include Polar Rescue, Marine Fox and Sub Wars. This is also only the second Vectrex game ever to have a shark in it (the first being Marine Fox).
  • Clean Sweep music plays during the title screen. Originally it was suggested on the Vector gaming forums to include a Jaws-type theme (from the movie of the same name) when the shark appeared but that ended up being left out, although arguably the first few notes of the dive screen music sound similar to the theme. Der Luchs created all of the music for the game.

LinksEdit

Big Blue - Vectrex Homebrew - Finished Game!

Big Blue - Vectrex Homebrew - Finished Game!