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Spike Hoppin'

Spikehoppin

Developer John Dondzila
Publishers Classic Game Creations
Freeware
Packrat Video Games, LLC
Release dates 1996
2015 (re-release)
Genres Action
Platformer
Puzzle
Mode Single player only
Media Cartridge
ROM file

OverviewEdit

Spike Hoppin' is a clone of the game Q*Bert, where the player must jump on all areas of a structure to make them the same color in order to advance to the next level. (With the Vectrex not being in color though, in this case, the player needs to make all the areas [which are represented by triangles] on a playfield either brighter or darker, depending on what the current level's requirement is.)

Several enemies with various mannerisms will attempt Spike's downfall, although a few items can help Spike out as well during a game.

GameplayEdit

The player controls Spike, the unofficial Vectrex mascot, who starts off every game on the top triangle of the first level. He must hop on all triangles, making them all the same shade -- either bright or dark, depending on what the current level requires -- in order to advance to the next level. (For the first several levels, all of the triangles have to be made darker.) Later levels require all triangles to be hopped on twice, while others can be hopped on, but should Spike hop on them again, they will revert back to the original shade, then have to be jumped on two more times to get them back to their correct shade that is needed to advance to the next level.

The levels are faced with perils; one of which that appears during a game are balls, which drop from the top down to the bottom of the playfield. Spike's enemy Spud will also behave like a ball when he first makes his entry during a level (although he will start off diamond-shaped) -- what with dropping from the top of the playfield to the bottom -- but then once he reaches the bottom row of triangles he will turn into Spud and start pursuing Spike.

Upside-Down Monsters also start appearing after several levels, starting at the bottom of the screen and working their way up, zig-zagging in between rows of triangles in the process. And LOG appears last, who will start at the top of the screen, jump around and change the triangles back to their original color if Spike had already jumped on them.

Colliding with any of these enemies (except for LOG) will result in Spike losing a life. Balls and Upside-Down Monsters can only be avoided, although Spud can be knocked away when Spike jumps on a disc that appears at the sides of the screen. However, Spud has to be himself, and not his original diamond form that he initially appears for this to work. An hourglass that starts showing up after several levels will also freeze all onscreen enemies for several seconds if Spike is able to grab it before it disappears from a level, as it starts off at the top of the screen and drops down to the bottom, one triangle at a time.

ControlsEdit

  • Move Spike--Joystick or D-pad
  • Button 2--change to angled or regular stick control (menu screen only)
  • Button 4--start game (menu screen only)

ScoringEdit

  • Changing triangle color--25 points
  • Hop on disc--100 points
  • Collecting Hourglass--200 points
  • Hop on LOG--50 points
  • Extra life--5,000 points

VectrepedeEdit

Vectrepede is a hidden bonus game that is a simplified clone of Centipede.

In this version, the player controls a gun that maneuvers around the bottom section of the screen and shoots at a vectrepede that descends from the top. The vectrepede will move left and right, dropping a notch closer when it reaches the edge of the screen. It will also drop down a notch if there is a mushroom in its path, and with each vectrepede segment the player destroys, it will turn into a mushroom. A spider also appears in the player's area, darting about quickly.

Unlike with the arcade original, there are no scorpions or fleas, along with there being no bonus either for any partially shot mushrooms left over when the player loses a life. And without a flea being present, the player can shoot all onscreen mushrooms without having the flea drop down to add more mushrooms like the original. However, mushrooms can't be shot in between waves like on the original.

If the player is struck by a vectrepede segment or spider, they will lose a life, and the game will end when all three lives are lost.

ControlsEdit

  • Move gun--Joystick or D-pad
  • Fire--button three

ScoringEdit

  • Vectrepede segment--25 points
  • Spider--300 points

TriviaEdit

  • On Q*Bert, in order to be rid of Coily, who relentlessly pursues the player, they must jump on a disc when Coily is only two squares away or less. On Spike Hoppin', jumping on a disc knocks off Spud (the character that appears in place of Coily in this game) no matter how close or how far away he is, just as long as he's onscreen and hatched from his original form.
  • Spike Hoppin' was originally slated to be on a cartridge entitled More Good Things along with the Disc Duel demo (which would later appear on Vecmania instead), but would later become this separate cartridge.
  • On the original Spike game, it was the only game from the original GCE lineup that had speech. Spike talks again on this release, saying the game name during the title screen, "Go for it!" at the start of a new level, and "Darnit!" when he gets hit by an object, although the original voice was a lot gruffer, while this voice is a lot higher in pitch.
  • This was the first 16K Vectrex game ever at the time of release.[1]
  • With each level (until it maxes out at 15), there is a message that appears onscreen; some of the messages are in regards to instructions and tips for the game, others are taunts if the player has found one of the Easter eggs included in the cartridge, whereas others are humorous (one stating that Spike's girlfriend Molly is "away" from the game, while another one asks "Have you played Atari today?").
  • The original Q*Bert arcade game used a joystick that could be moved in diagonal directions only, which can be difficult to replicate with a standard stick. There is a choice between using a regular or angled stick on the title screen, plus rotating a controller 45 degrees (to simulate using it diagonally) and/or placing the controller on a flat object (such as a book) might help with the control.
  • There is a collision detection bug with LOG, as the player can sometimes jump through him several times without being able to remove him from the screen.
  • The game was produced until the end of 2013, when programmer John Dondzila did not have the time any more to produce games and work his day job. Packrat Video Games, LLC picked the distribution up of the game again in April, 2015.

Links/reviewsEdit

  • Packrat Video Games, LCC Spike Hoppin' page
  • Easter eggs for Spike Hoppin'
  • Stage Select review (8/10; archived)
  • Click on the tabber below for another review.

Who says an arcade adaption has to be vector in order to work on the Vectrex? Berzerk, Scramble and Pole Position’s arcade counterparts weren’t vector originally, but arguably two out of those three adaptions worked well anyway. (I’ll take the argument against Berzerk, which is way easier than the original, runs slow, loses a bit in translation by having no color change of the robots and no voice, plus the unforgivable collision detection problem of robots walking halfway through a wall before finally getting zapped bogged it down too much for it to be a good port, which I don’t think it is.)

Granted, the Q*Bert clone of Spike Hoppin’ isn’t a port anyway, and Q*Bert wasn’t vector originally. But that doesn’t matter. Heck, the no color qualm doesn’t matter either, in this case!

Q*Bert involved a big-nosed orange creature that must change the colors of a giant pyramid on the screen in order to make it to further levels. Obstacles dropping from the top of the screen and various humorous creatures pursued him to no end.

Spike Hoppin’ follows the same formula, although who knows why it is that Spike is hopping around. Maybe he’s gone nuts in the black and white only vector world (which is why he’s trying to change colors [from light to dark]...I guess?) and from having to constantly save his dum-dum girlfriend Molly from his game from back in the heyday, since she could never take a hint in taking any self-defense classes and allowing herself to be constantly captured by Spike’s enemy Spud.

Whatever the deal is, yes, Spike must change colors of all the triangles in a level. Balls drop from the top of the screen, which getting hit by one will result in losing a life. Spud arrives via a diamond-shaped capsule of some sort (or maybe that’s him rolled up), then grows to his full size upon reaching the bottom row of triangles, and then starts making a beeline for Spike.

Luckily there are magical platforms that Spike can hop onto in order to knock Spud off the screen. As per usual, creator John Dondzila made this game difficult so we can keep on coming back for more, which Spike can get gangbanged pretty good at times. However, unlike with Q*Bert where Coily (that’s what Spud is in this game, basically) has to be only a few spaces away from Q*Bert in order for the discs to work, Spud can be anywhere on the screen in order to be knocked off. Also helping you out are a magical hourglass, which starts appearing within a few levels to stop everyone in their tracks for several seconds when caught, and you will earn an extra life at 5,000 points as well.

However, later Upside-Down Monsters appear from the bottom of the playfield, triangles can start taking two jumps in order for them to change color, and some miserable little runt will appear to change the triangles back to their original color (named Log...for some reason).

The game runs slower than Q*Bert, but it can still be just as hectic in the later levels. The graphics aren’t very good though, although I consider them to be a nod to the original Spike, since he looked more like a star with legs than the hedgehog that he supposedly is. Sounds don’t fare a whole lot better though, as the bouncing of many balls can get on the nerves, but there’s charming voice synthesis added of the title screen, “go for it!” with each new level and life, and the usual “darnit!” (Although Spike's voice is a lot higher this time around, for some reason...someone hurt himself in the wrong place [if you get my drift] from landing on a platform wrong from the original Spike game?) Controls are also somewhat iffy – don’t know of ANY Q*Bert ports that played well with controls over the years, but I haven’t played ‘em all though – but there’s two different setups for that. I suggest turning the controller about 45 degrees to the left (to simulate a diagonal-only joystick) and maybe even placing it on a flat surface (I just use the S. Hoppin’ box). And a collision detection problem with Log, making it difficult to erase that little puke at times, isn’t good either (sometimes you can jump right through him!). Most of these quibbles are minor, though.

Rounding out the package is the hidden bonus game of Vectrepede, although I think Dondzila realized he bit off a bit more than he could chew (speaking of originally raster graphic arcade games...), due to a lot of flicker with only mushrooms, the vectrepede, you and the spider, and that’s IT. No scorpions or fleas with the original Centipede, and a bug (pardon the pun) at times that causes the vectrepede to stay in one line without coming all the way down to the bottom of the screen. Sounds aren’t that great on this one either – the majority of them sounds like a lame choo-choo train when you shoot the vectrepede – but it’s good for a blast here and there.

As usual, this is worth the $20 U. S. (plus shipping) Dondzila charges, as I still go back to this game time and again over the months, even though I got this over two and a half years ago! Dondzila sure does know how to make ‘em addictive, that’s for sure.

Score 8/10

Review written by Darryl

ReferencesEdit

  1. Classic Game Creations website.


This article uses material from the Spike Hoppin' Gaming wiki article and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.