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Protector/Y*A*S*I

Protector

Developer Alex Herbert
Publishers Classic Game Creations
Freeware
Vectrex carts
Release dates 2003
2016? (re-release)
Genres Compilation
Shooter
Mode Single player only
Media Cartridge
ROM file

BackgroundEdit

The Vectrex community was taken by surprise in 2003 when the announcement of the upcoming, original release of Protector LE was revealed, as Alex Herbert envisioned that the arcade classic of Defender could be brought to the Vectrex. A downloadable video was posted as well, showing that the intense gameplay from the original did indeed seem to be possible after all. It quickly sold out of its 100 copies in less than three weeks of release[1]. It also came with the Spike Goes Down game included with it as well as an unlockable bonus.

Then later on that year, the unlimited edition of Protector was released, although with a different game included, being Y*A*S*I, which stands for "Yet Another Space Invaders", as that game was a clone of that arcade classic (hence the title of this release being Protector/Y*A*S*I this time around). Again this was a bit of a surprise within the Vectrex community, as a lot of gamers in general didn't know that the Vectrex is capable of producing raster graphics as well, which Y*A*S*I proved by looking almost exactly like it's arcade cousin, having bitmapped, rather than vector graphics.

Protector overviewEdit

Like the Defender original, the player controls a ship that flies over a planet's surface. Potentially the only enemy at the beginning are Landers, which do not move very quickly but occasionally shoot at the player. However, there are humanoids on the surface of the planet that the Landers can pick up, which, if they are to reach the top of the screen with a humanoid, the Lander will then turn into a Mutant, which moves much faster and fires more aggressively than a Lander. If all humanoids are taken captive during a wave then the planet will explode, causing all Landers to become Mutants, and "free space" is very difficult to survive for most players in general. The planet gets restored after every four waves though.

Also, if a player takes too long during a wave, a fast-moving Baiter will appear and cause trouble until the player finishes a wave, which they will then receive a bonus for whatever humanoids are still remaining multiplied by the wave number.

From the second wave on, slow-moving Pods are worth a thousand points each, but they will deploy fast, dangerous Swarmers when destroyed. Bombers do not move quickly though, but they leave bombs behind that will destroy the player’s ship upon impact.

Luckily the player starts out each game with three Smart Bombs that will destroy everything onscreen (not counting Swarmers if Pods are bombed without being shot first) and an extra life and Smart Bomb is awarded with every 10,000 points.

ControlsEdit

  • Joystick or D-pad: move ship up and down
  • button 1: reverse
  • button 2: thrust
  • butten 3: fire
  • button 4: Smart Bomb/hyperspace

(Note: these are the default controls, which can be changed.)

Y*A*S*I OverviewEdit

Like the arcade original, each wave starts off with 55 invaders that move in formation from side to side; once they reach an edge of the screen, the entire formation drops down a notch closer to the player. Several times during a wave a high point U. F. O. will fly overhead as well. There are four bunkers for the player to hide behind but they can succumb to fire.

The player receives an extra laser base with every 2500 points earned and the game is over when the player loses all bases from enemy fire or they get "invaded" if the invaders make it to the bottom of the screen. Also, there are several unlockable modes, as the game starts off with option A (the regular game), which options can be accessed at the Y*A*S*I menu screen. These are:

  • B: guided missiles--the player can guide their missiles after they are fired
  • C: moving bunkers--the bunkers move back and forth during a game
  • D: guided missiles and moving bunkers
  • E: cloaking invaders--the invaders are invisible until shot or the player loses a laser base
  • F: guided missiles and cloaking invaders
  • G: moving bunkers and cloaking invaders
  • H: guided missiles, moving bunkers and cloaking invaders

Once the player starts unlocking these options, once they are on this screen, pressing button number two repeatedly will cycle through the options. Also, there are nine skill levels to choose from as well, which can be chosen from the Y*A*S*I menu screen by pressing button three (which the modes can then be chosen by pressing button two).

ControlsEdit

  • button 1: pause
  • buttons 2 and 3: move laser base left and right (note: the player can also use the joystick or D-pad for this function as well)
  • button 4: fire

BugsEdit

  • If there is a lot going on during Protector and the player uses a Smart Bomb, at times the enemies will still remain onscreen. Usually pausing a tiny bit before using a Smart Bomb remedies this problem.
  • On Y*A*S*I, there are times when the player's shot will pass through a U. F. O. With the excellent programming that was done with these games, though (there are those who would have sworn that Protector was not possible to do on the Vectrex without a lot of flicker and/or the infamous Vectrex slowdown), this might actually be intentional (for some reason), rather than being a programming bug.

ExtrasEdit

  • There is a memory save enabled, where the high scores for both games and unlockable content on Y*A*S*I will remain even after the Vectrex is turned off. There is an option to reset the high scores, but this resets the unlockable Y*A*S*I content back to the default A game and everything will have to re-earned.
  • The credits screen, chosen from the main menu, is a bit odd, showing names within what looks to be a compact disc (which it calls itself the "credit disc") that slowly twists and distorts around the screen, again, showcasing that it is using raster, rather than vector graphics.
  • Each cartridge has a number.
  • The first time Y*A*S*I is played, the screen has to be calibrated, as all Vectrexes are different and there can be a slight variance with graphics. This can be skipped after the calibration is first set though unless the high scores are reset.
  • In case a customer has the VecVoice (or the later VecVox or AtariVox+ models), when it is used for Y*A*S*I, voices will be heard as the invaders taunt the player during gameplay, saying "you will pay for that" when the U. F. O. is destroyed, "all your base are belong to us" (from the Sega Genesis port of Zero Wing), and more.

TriviaEdit

  • The title screens and scoring tables for both games look very similar to their arcade cousins. For example, the scoring table for Protector shows all the enemies in two rows like on Defender, and the 'y' on the display for Y*A*S*I is upside down, which an invader appears, takes the 'y' offscreen, then reappears soon afterwards and correctly puts the 'y' in the upright position, which is also pretty much the same as on the original.
  • The hyperspace function (which warps the player to another area of the game in case of an emergency) is actually included on Protector. If a player uses all of their smart bombs during a game, hyperspace is then used in place of Smart Bombs.
  • This cartridge was originally available through the Vectrex carts website until John Dondzila took it over from Mark Shaker and was available from his Classic Game Creations site until late 2013, as Dondzila stated that he did not have the time to produce cartridges any more along with working his regular day jobs. Packrat Video Games, LLC officially took over Classic Game Creations's library and re-released the cart in what was believed to be 2015.

Links/reviewsEdit

Protector LE stunned the Vectrex world when it was announced and a video was released of its gameplay, as there were even programmers who would swear that a clone of the Defender arcade game would not be possible for the machine. However, it seemed quite real indeed, and the limited edition game (of only 100 copies) sold out pretty quickly.

Luckily though, an unlimited edition was made not long afterwards (which is still available to this day), having a different second game included, which was Y*A*S*I, which stands for “Yet Another Space Invaders”, which also came as a surprise to many that thought bitmapped graphics were not possible on the Vectrex, which they indeed are, as that game looked almost exactly like its arcade cousin.

The gamesEdit

Protector involves the player flying over a series of planets while destroying various enemies, such as Landers, which will take humanoids off the planet surface and attempt to make it to the top of the screen with them; if they do so, they will form into a dangerous, faster moving Mutant and the humanoid will be lost. If all humans are lost then the planet will explode, which will turn all Landers into Mutants, and outer space is much harder to survive than if the planet was still around. A fast-moving Baiter will also appear if the player takes too long to finish a Wave.

Then starting with Attack Wave 2, slow-moving Bombers (although the bombs they leave behind create a hazard) are added to the mix, along with even slower Pods, although they will split into several fast-moving Swarmers when shot. Getting hit by enemies’ fire or an enemy itself will cause the player to lose a life and the game ends when there are no more reserve ships left.

Luckily a few defenses for the player include a Scanner that shows all game elements/enemies, Smart Bombs destroy everything onscreen (usually; I'll go over the bugs soon), and Hyperspace will transport the player to another part of the planet in case of an emergency. An extra Smart Bomb and life is awarded with every 10,000 points.

Then Y*A*S*I is the quintessential Space Invaders clone where invaders travel from side to side in a group, dropping down a notch on the screen when they reach the edge and fire at the player. The player can hide behind several bunkers or shoot through them at the invaders. A high-scoring flying saucer appears from time to time and the invaders’ pace will quicken when more and more are shot.

Getting hit by their fire costs the player a laser base and the game ends once all bases are gone.

The changes and bugsEdit

Changes and bugs--There aren’t many things that are very different from the two games when compared to their arcade originals actually, as Hyperspace on Protector isn’t a function that can be used readily unless the player runs out of Smart Bombs first (since it's assigned to the same button). Swarmers also move a little slower than on the original as well. (And of course, the graphics are different, being mostly in vector and not in color, but that’s rather obvious.)

As far as Y*A*S*I goes, the bunkers disappear entirely when the invaders drop down to their level, the bonus saucer takes longer to appear than on the original, more than one extra laser base is awarded, there is no 300 point saucer secret, the last onscreen invader doesn’t move anywhere as quickly as on the original, and there are several bonuses to unlock, such as being able to steer your missiles, invisible invaders, moving bunkers and fast shots from the invaders that the arcade game did not have, among a few other minor details that were changed.

Both games are for one player only as well.

There is a minor bug on Protector where sometimes enemies will still be onscreen after a Smart Bomb is used, and on Y*A*S*I (or maybe it was deliberate?) sometimes the player’s missile will pass through the flying saucer.

The verdictEdit

The verdict--There are very few things at all that is wrong with this cartridge, and those things are very minor. The controls respond well, although quite a few people on forums have expressed having problems with getting used to the Protector controls but I’ve never had a dilemma with them myself. This instantly became a “must have” classic for the system, which I give it a 9 out of 10.

(Review by Darrylb500)

Alex Herbert from the U.K. is the guy programming more commercial Vectrex games than most other game developers at present. The magnificant Protector was released early in 2003 and the follow up games YASI was released in November 2003. Herbert's games really push the Vectrex to it's limits and this faithful Space Invaders clone is no exception.

Arcade Space Invaders was originally released by Taito in Japan and was programmed by Toshiro Nishikado in 1978. Space Invaders was the game which was instrumental in creating the videogame industry as we know it today. It involves manouvering a laser base left or right and shooting alien invaders, which congregate in rows, and utilising protective bunkers to aid you against enemy fire. But you allready knew that.

If you have received your copy of YASI in the mail from Mark Shaker you will know that the cartridge not only includes the re-released Protector but the packaging and cover art is up to scratch with, and even surpasses, the presentation of many other modern console games. Manu Parssinen, the cover artist, has really gone all out and his use of Photoshop in presenting a customized Vectrex console with Space Invaders artwork adds significantly to the games appeal.

YASI is about as close to Space Invaders as you can get and the invader who steals the 'C' from 'CCOIN' in the original also replaces the upside down 'Y' from 'YASI' in the games introduction screen is also present. YASI goes into my top 5 favourite Vectrex games. Keep up the good work Alex.

    • Space Invaders caused a huge yen shortage in Japan in the early 80's.

Score 9/10

Review written by Daniel Foot

ReferencesEdit

  1. Alex Herbert's web site


This article uses material from the Protector/Y*A*S*I Gaming Wikia article and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.