|Publishers||Classic Game Creations |
Packrat Video Games, LLC
|Release dates||July, 2000|
April, 2015 (re-release)
|Mode||Single player only|
Also known as Ronen's Game Cart, Vaboom!/Vectrace is a bit of an unusual homebrew entry, due to it containing one of the very few racing games for the Vectrex (Vectrace). And it might also seem unusual for another Kaboom! clone to be made for the system as well (Vaboom!, as the first clone, Spike's Water Balloons, from the All Good Things cartridge, was released four years earlier). Arguably, this odd pairing of unrelated games makes this cartridge still stand out.
Like with Kaboom!, it is the player's job to catch all of the bombs "the man" (as he is called in this version) at the top of the screen drops down with a set of paddles. Unlike with Kaboom! though, the game starts off faster, and if the player misses a bomb, the action keeps right on going, with a paddle being lost, unlike how it will stop with the original before starting over at the previous round. But like the original though, the game will pause in between every successful round. If the player loses all of their paddles the game will end.
Occasionally a bomb will go flying back up the screen towards the man and may even hit him. If this happens, one of the 10 bricks that is supporting the bridge the man is standing on will disappear, and if he is hit 10 times, the bridge will fall and the player will enter a bonus round where the bombs fall very fast, but are worth three times as many points than during a regular round, and if the player misses a bomb during this round it won't count against them.
The man may also drop an occasional diamond that is worth a lot of points if caught, or an X that will cause the player to lose a paddle if caught. However, if the player catches a heart, that will replace a paddle.
- Move paddles left and right -- joystick or D-pad
- Start round -- buttons one or four (Note: the onscreen prompt will instruct the player to press button four in order to start a new round, although button one will also work.)
Vaboom! can also work with a modified Atari 2600 Paddle Controller.
- Move paddles left and right -- dial left and right
- Start round -- button
- Catch bomb: 10 points
- Catch bomb, bonus round: 30 points
- Catch heart: 50 points + paddle reinstated (if applicable)
- Catch diamond: 100 points
The player has a certain amount of time to pass a certain amount of cars during a race before time runs out or the player destroys their car. If the player doesn't occasionally increase their speed, their car will slow down by itself. The race takes place on a three lane road and other cars tend to overlap with each other, making the passing of the cars difficult at times.
The player's speed, car's "shape", score, high score, and time is displayed on the screen.
Whenever the player strikes a car, the shape goes down, which, if it reaches zero, the player loses one of their five cars and they will have to start the race over. The player starts with a shape of 10 with each race.
Cars needed to pass/time in order to proceedEdit
- Level 1: 45 seconds/35 cars
- Level 2: 35 seconds/65 cars
- Level 3: 25 seconds/30 cars
- Move left and right -- joystick or D-pad left and right
- Speed up -- joystick or D-pad up
- Slow down -- joystick or D-pad down
This game will also work with a modified Atari 2600 Paddle Controller.
- Move left and right -- dial left and right
- Speed up -- button
- Passing car: 10 points
- Passing new cars in round 3: 30 points
- 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 April, 2015.
- Creator Ronen Habot's feedback from people when they heard he was doing another Kaboom! clone resulted with them pointing out that there was already a Kaboom! homebrew for the Vectrex. But the two games play a bit differently.
- Due to a bug, Vaboom! will crash at level 19, which the man will stop dropping bombs, only dropping hearts, diamonds, and Xs.
- Originally Habot had offered on his web site that whoever made it to the end on Vectrace could send in a photo of the win screen and he would put it up on his site. However, as of 2014, only one score has ever gone up, his site hasn't been updated in many years and e-mails sent to him come bouncing back.
- Both games also work with the Vecdrive controller, which is a hacked Atari 2600 paddle controller.
- Ronen Habot's Vectrex page
- Both games running with a Vecdrive controller in use (video)
- Packrat Video Games, LLC Vaboom!/Vectrace page
- Click on the tabber below for a review.
Vaboom!/Vectrace (aka Ronen's Games Cart) is a bit of an oddity in the Vectrex homebrew world. First off, upon doing searches on the net, I can't even find any other reviews of it anywhere, even though this cart is nine years old at the time of this writing. So it looks like this site is the first (or one of the few) to have one. There's also not many compilations with clones that were already done for the Vectrex beforehand, like Vaboom! was (although it does have a few differences to make it stand out against John Dondzila's Spike's Water Balloons though). And as far as Vectrace goes, well, how many racing games have there BEEN for the Vectrex? Not many.
So, onto the review part, the first one being Vaboom!, a Kaboom! clone, which exploded (sorry for that pun) onto the gaming scene in the 1980s, seeing ports of all kinds of console and computer setups galore back then (and you can still see some clones of it nowadays on the internet and all too). The original game consisted of a mad bomber (made obvious with him constantly frowning) dropping bombs, which you had to catch them with buckets; miss a bomb, and you lost a bucket, once you were out of buckets, it was game over then, you bombed out (again, sorry...). A very simple, yet addicting, fast "twitch" type of classic.
In this update though, it has the above elements, but when you miss a bomb, the action keeps on going, no pause as the remaining bombs explode like in the original. However, occasionally the "man" (as he's called in the instructions) will drop an X down, which, if you catch it by accident, it will take away one of your paddles. But, if you catch the occasional heart he drops, you'll gain a bucket back (no regaining of a bucket every 1,000 points like with the original). Sometimes the idiot will also drop a fast-moving diamond as well, which is worth big points, and sometimes a bomb will be sent back up towards him. Smacking him is a good thing too (he gets what he deserves), especially since, if you smack him 10 times, you're treated to a bonus round where not only are the bombs worth three times their normal point value, but a miss won't erase a paddle, nor will a caught X penalize you either.
These bonuses add to the game so much I'm giving this a 7.5 out of 10, which I usually don't rate clones very highly in general, since an idea from an already existing game had to be taken and usually only a few things were added to it (big whup!). But in this case it works well without screwing up the original in the least.
Vectrace, on the other hand, doesn't fare as well, unfortunately. In that game, you have a certain amount of time to pass a certain amount of cars on the road, or else you have to do the race over again if you don't accomplish that. Smashing into a car changes the "shape" of your car; if your shape goes down to 0, you lose a car. It starts off easy but gets very difficult pretty quickly, with cars filling up all three lanes, making it impossible to NOT take a hit (if not several) during the course of a race. For very occasional play, I'd give this one a 6, but overall it's really only a 5.5, since I don't think I've spent 15 minutes straight playing it ever since I got it a few weeks ago, due to the frustration/lack of fun level. And due to all Vectrexes being different, I still can't for the life of me read probably even half of the slanted messages that appear on the screen of either one of the games. Whatever!
The graphics only fare ok, as they're adequate for Vaboom!, although I like how the paddles have an extra side now, giving it a more 3-D look. The cars in Vectrace look like freakin' go-carts though, but at least the scrolling is smooth for both games (and with only a tiny amount of slowdown during the last few rounds of Vaboom!). However, the sounds are worse, as the sound of catching the bombs in Vaboom! can grate on the nerves. The others are ok though, and about all you get for Vectrace is the grinding noise of the engines...also annoying, like the fun noise of someone dragging their fingernails across a chalkboard. Back to the good side though, the controls for both games work very smoothly, although I can't comment on how the modified Atari 2600 controller works for them though, since I don't have one.
Overall I'd give this cartridge a 6.5. I'd rate it higher if Vectrace was more fun and didn't end after only three races, and even Vaboom! has a "ceiling", since at level 19 (if you can make it that far) a glitch stops the bomber guy from dropping bombs, all he'll drop is the occasional diamond, Xs and hearts from there on. So you can't go any further than that, unless you're just really bored.
I don't know what's up with creator Ronen Habot nowadays, but he seems to be M. I. A., due to his website not being updated in years and my e-mail came bouncing back from sending in my photo of the win screen from Vectrace. So, I'd assume he has no time on his hands nowadays for any other Vectrex games, but I'd like to see a sequel to Vectrace, just as long as he were to do away with the cars in every lane, lowering the possibility of the "get through a race without crashing" crap (which would be nice). Make the lanes and cars smaller, just put in some oil slicks to make your car skid around the place...then put in some bottleneck areas (a la the arcade game of Bump 'n Jump) to shrink the amount of lanes to shake things up and make the courses...well, actually a COURSE this time around, not just the straightaway of three lanes, that's a bit boring! And spice up the graphics a bit. They kind of suck.
Review written by Darryl
This article was featured from March - April, 2014.