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Vecmania

Vecmania

Developer John Dondzila
Publishers Classic Game Creations
Freeware
Packrat Video Games, LLC
Release dates 1999
2014 (re-release)
Genre Compilation
Modes Single player
2 players simultaneous
Media Cartridge
ROM file

Vecmania has the largest amount of games for a homebrew compilation for the Vectrex, with a full seven games (one hidden) and two unfinished demos, being clones of the arcade games of Tempest, Star Wars, Missile Command, Space Invaders, Eliminator, Breakout, Discs Of Tron, Asteroids and Phoenix.

The games can be scrolled through at the main menu by moving the joystick or D-pad left and right and then chosen by pressing up on the joystick or D-pad. The main menu can be returned to by pressing three on the controller when the player is on an individual game's title screen (except for the demos).

Full gamesEdit

Birds of PreyEdit

This is a clone of Phoenix, where the player shoots at an assortment of birds. A shield is used for protection from attacks and can kill a bird as well. The player can still shoot but not move, and they cannot use the shield again for a few seconds afterwards.

Getting rammed by a bird or their fire will destroy the player's blaster and the game ends once the player has no more reserve blasters. However, an extra blaster is earned at 10,000 points.

During the first level, the birds dive bomb the player. The second level is identical to the first except the player can shoot two shots at once. Levels three and four feature much larger birds that can only be shot if hit right in the middle, and the last level (before it starts over at a higher difficulty level) features the first level birds along with a mother ship that must have it's middle belt damaged enough so the player can shoot and destroy the ship itself.

Controls

  • Start game--button four
  • Move left and right--buttons one and two
  • Fire--button four
  • Shields--button three

Bug

Graphics bug where sometimes if a bird from the third or fourth level is shot right next to a screen edge, its explosion will emerge on the other side of the screen.

BreakoutEdit

The player knocks a ball against a wall, destroying bricks with the ball. If the ball gets past the player's paddle three times the game is over. From level two and on each brick takes two hits to destroy. (Note: this is a bonus hidden game; see the Vectrex game easter eggs page in regards to accessing it.)

Controls

  • Move paddle left and right--move joystick or D-pad left or right
  • Launch ball--button one
  • Change paddle speed--button two

Bug

Sometimes the ball, once it gets past the paddle, will appear at the top of the screen.

Patriots RemixEdit

This is a clone of Missile Command, where the player must defend cities against enemy missiles that rain down from the sky by positioning their cursor at targets and shooting from two bases on the ground. The player will get attacked by regular missiles, smart bombs that can evade fire, and spaceships and planes that can launch missiles of their own.

A destroyed city can be brought back with every 10,000 points until scores of over 70,000 is reached, plus there is a bonus at the end of every round for any remaining unfired missiles. The missile bases can also be destroyed as well if hit by an enemy missile. If there are no more bonus cities left after all are destroyed the game ends.

Controls

  • Start game--button four
  • Fire from left base--button three
  • Fire from right base--button four
  • Pause--button two
  • Speed up cursor control--button one

Bug

Same slight graphics one that Birds of Prey has, where an explosion will sometimes appear at the other side of the screen.

RepulseEdit

This is a clone of Eliminator, where the player must destroy a floating fortress while evading sentry ships. The sentry ships will careen out of control when shot, but cannot be destroyed; the player can only shoot them and hopefully knock them against the fortress, which will temporarily destroy them (although they will reappear within seconds), and they can shoot you in the same manner as well. If the fortress isn't destroyed after a while, it's alien will emerge from it and come after you, but if shot several times it will re-appear inside the fortress.

Colliding with the fortress or being shot by the alien will cause the player to lose a ship; after all ships have been depleted the game ends. An extra ship is granted with every time the fortress is destroyed, but with every time this is accomplished, more and more sentry ships are added to each successive level.

Controls

  • Start game--button one
  • Start game with faster turning controls--button two
  • Move left and right--buttons one and two
  • Fire--button four
  • Thrust--button three

Bug

Sometimes the player's ship, when it flies into one of the top corners of the screen, will go through the corner and re-emerge through a bottom screen corner.

Rockaroids Remix: Third RockEdit

This is a clone of Asteroids, where the player controls a ship that must destroy rockaroids by shooting them. Large rockaroids will split into two medium ones when hit, which will, in turn, split into two small ones. Bonus U. F. O.s can also be destroyed for big points but they shoot back at the player. Extra ships are awarded with every 10,000 points and hyperspace can be used in an emergency to send the player's ship to a random location on the screen, but they could blow up upon re-entry.

Getting destroyed upon re-entry, getting hit by a rockaroid or U. F. O. fire will destroy the player's ship and the game will end when there are no more ships remaining.

Controls

  • Start game--button four
  • Move left and right--buttons one and two
  • Fire--button three
  • Thrust--button four
  • Hyperspace--down on joystick or D-pad

Bug

Sometimes when the player is shooting while facing towards the bottom of the screen, one or more large rockaroids will suddenly appear out of nowhere right below the player.

Star Fire SpiritsEdit

This is a clone of the Atari vector game Star Wars, which is comprised of three waves. The player starts with six shield units, which will drop every time a spaceship or any other obstacle collides with the player or the player is hit by enemy fire; if the player is hit when they have no more shields left the game will end.

The first wave pits the player against a horde of T. I. E. Fighter-like ships and must shoot a certain number in order to advance to the next area of the game. After a certain number of these ships are hit the player starts their attack on the surface of Dark Planet.

On the surface run, the player must shoot bunkers and the tops off laser towers. Shooting all of the laser tower tops results in a bonus. The laser towers and bunkers fire at the player in the meantime (although no more laser towers will appear once they are all destroyed).

Finally, the player descends the trench of Dark Planet in hopes of destroying it. Bunkers fire from the sides and the player's photon torpedoes will fire at the target shaft automatically when the player positions their cursor over it (although there is no indication that the torpedoes have fired though). If the player destroys Dark Planet, then it starts over at the beginning, but at a higher difficulty level.

Controls

  • Start game--button four
  • Start game with flight controls--button one
  • Move cursor--Joystick or D-pad
  • Fire--button one
  • Reverse (during first round only)--button two
  • Speed up cursor--button four

Bugs

  • Sometimes the player's cursor during the second area will jump from one side to the other (i. e. if the cursor is at the far right of the screen it could suddenly appear at the left).
  • It states in the instructions that the player will earn a shield back with each time Dark Planet is destroyed, but this actually does not happen, unless this was fixed on a later version. (Note: this could be a programmer omission actually rather than a "bug".)

Vector Vaders The Director's CutEdit

This is a clone of Space Invaders, where a formation of 25 aliens march from side to side while shooting at the player's laser base. Once the formation reaches an edge of the screen they drop down a notch; if the player is hit by enemy fire they will lose a base and the game ends when there are no remaining bases or the player gets "invaded" (i. e. the invaders make it to the bottom of the screen). An extra base is awarded at 3010 points or higher (see note) and a high scoring U. F. O. appears overhead during a wave as well.

Controls

  • Exit to game screen--button two
  • Start game--button four
  • Move left and right--buttons one and two
  • Fire--button three

Note: Unlike how the instructions claim, the player will not receive an extra laser base at 3000 points, but over it: it will be awarded at 3010 or higher.

DemosEdit

AbyssEdit

This is an unfinished demo of what would have been a clone of Tempest. This is like the first level of the game, where the player spins in a circle and shoots at various enemies that appear from the innermost part of the level. The player cannot die, there's no sounds or scoring, and the only ways to end the demo is to press reset on the Vectrex or shut the machine off.

ControlsEdit

  • Move left and right--buttons one and two
  • Fire--button three

Disc DuelEdit

This is a two player clone of Discs Of Tron. Two players throw discs at each other while dodging the other's shots. Players will automatically jump from one platform to the next when they move to an edge of a platform. There is no sound, the shields don't function and there is no scoring. The game can be exited by pressing reset on the Vectrex or by shutting the machine off.

ControlsEdit

  • Move left and right--buttons two and three
  • Shoot discs--button four
  • Shield (non-functioning)--button one
  • Change aim--Joystick or D-pad

TriviaEdit

  • This was the very first 64K cartridge for the Vectrex ever when it was released.[1]
  • Vecmania was originally announced as Vectrexodus and included a version of Star Fire Spirits which was titled as Star Siege.
  • Each signed Limited Edition cartridge comes with a personal greeting to the customer who bought it, along with the cartridge's number included during the attract screen.
  • The Disc Duel demo went unfinished due to creator John Dondzila accidentally destroying the source code to the game (hence why the shield function isn't implemented on the demo, since it wasn't programmed in at the time).[1] The Abyss demo went unfinished due to Dondzila not properly planning out the game before he started programming it, which he didn't like the way it looked and decided not to finish the game.[1] A full Tempest clone was made of Tsunami, which was available on the Tsunami/VIX cartridge, as well as a ROM download for emulators.
  • The original Rockaroids was first available as a limited edition cartridge, then included on the All Good Things release.[2] The rockaroids do not tumble in the original, the player's ship is smaller and looks a little different this time around and the bonus U. F. O.s can pass through the rockaroids without being destroyed, unlike with the original. With the Rockaroids Remix, the rockaroids move at a very fast speed for the most part.
  • Patriots was the second unlimited release from Dondzila, and the hidden bonus game of Breakout was also included and can be accessed the exact same way on Vecmania. Patriots III Ballistic Busters was also included on the Gravitrex Plus cartridge, which the player's missiles moved slower, the Smart Bombs fiercely dodged the player's fire, and the game is the hardest version of Patriots yet. However, no bombers or saucers appeared during the first wave, all three missile launchers were included, plus the player was allowed unlimited firepower, although at times the launchers would have to reload.
  • Vector Vaders was the very first homebrew Dondzila created, and it's sequel of More Invaders! appeared on the All Good Things cartridge. This version moves faster than each game and the invaders on Vector Vaders aren't made up of just the letter 'v'.
  • Repulse is a clone of the arcade game Eliminator, made by Sega. They also created an arcade game called Repulse, although it had nothing in common with either game, it was a tank shooter game.[3]
  • Vecmania was available from 1999 until 2013 when it was stated on the Classic Game Creations web site that its creator John Dondzila did not have the time to produce any more of his games. Packrat Video Games, LLC picked up the rights to the cartridge and re-released it in November, 2014.
  • Right when the hidden game Breakout starts, it says "keep the Vectrex alive" on the screen before it goes to the game.

Links/reviewEdit

vectrex.nl review

Here it is, one of the last (at the time of this writing), biggest (one of the few 64K Vectrex releases to date), and best of homebrewer John Dondzila's cartridges, full of arcade cloning goodness, containing three new games, three “remixed” ones, two unfinished demos, and one hidden bonus game.

To wit, lets start with the newer versions of the older stuff:

VECTOR VADERS THE DIRECTOR’S CUT–you all know what it is, invaders travel from the top of the screen and drop down closer and closer to you as you shoot them (and the bonus saucer) while avoiding their fire. I can’t say how this compares to the original Vector Vaders, since I’ve never played it, but I heard it ran a bit slow, so I’m guessing that this one’s a lot faster, as it definitely has far fewer invaders that move faster than the ones of More Invaders! on the All Good Things compilation from Dondzila. Who knows why the invaders are mad and are trying to shoot you down, but I was surprised at how addicting this is, I figured I would only play it a couple of times and that would be it. Nice to be wrong occasionally, as I can still play it, three years after first getting this cartridge.

ROCKAROIDS REMIX: THIRD ROCK–compared to the Rockaroids available from All Good Things, this one is faster and more difficult, but more fun too. Here you shoot asteroids from big down to smaller fragments and then to vector oblivion. This also incorporates the look of the small spaceship and rotating rocks from the arcade Asteroids Deluxe. Bonus U. F. O.s also appear for big points, but they can pass through the rockaroids unharmed (that’s not fair!).

PATRIOTS THE SPECIAL EDITION–I’ve only played the original Patriots in emulation a few times, and this seems like it has only minor changes (the bonus hidden game is even the same as on the original Patriots as well), just a slightly different pace and better sound. Here you must protect several cities from missiles raining down on them; maybe the missiles are in regards to the invaders wising up from V. Vaders TDC and realizing they should stop wasting manpower on you, and use machines and missiles instead to wreck havoc? Aircraft and smart missiles also add to this fun “remix” clone of Missile Command.

Now, onto the new stuff!

ABYSS (demo)–Dondzila’s attempt at a Tempest clone, but he didn’t properly plan out things in advance, wasn’t happy with it, and discontinued the project. All that there is is the first level, which never ends (until you either hit reset or shut off your Vectrex), as there’s no way to die as you face Flippers, Spikes and Spikers, and that’s it. Demos are hard to judge, but this one looks somewhat promising, and I sometimes still find myself kind of “zoning out” as I play this for 20 minutes or so occasionally (for some weird reason).

DISC DUEL DEMO–the full game was going to be a two player version of the arcade Discs of Tron, but Dondzila accidentally wiped out the source code, so we get another demo without any sound, scoring, or end (again, like with Abyss). This one DID look pretty promising, especially since you get a shield to block shots with (although it isn’t functional though). My nephew and I played this for about 20 minutes when I introduced him to the Vectrex for the first time ever, he never played any of the other games for as long as this one (humph! Kids...)!

And finally, onto the last, full new games...

BIRDS OF PREY–pretty good clone of the Phoenix arcade game. It incorporates the first two waves of birds, two waves of big birds (which have to be hit dead center to be destroyed, no wing hits here as in the original), then the mother ship on the fifth wave. Gameplay on waves 3-5 are slightly different than the original, but then, this wasn’t a port, and it doesn’t matter, it’s still a lot of fun, and Dondzila fixed the shield bug from the original (i. e. You hear your shield activate after you get blown up at times, which is annoying, but that won’t happen here!).

REPULSE–clone of the rare Eliminator vector game. I don’t know how it compares, since I never played the original (saw it, but never played it), but it’s addicting and can take a while, due to starting with five ships and then earning a new one with every successful elimination (sorry!) of the mother ship. Unfortunately firing a shot up the mother ship’s slim shaft is difficult, especially with sentry ships thrown in the mix, which a hit from them can send you careening across the screen. A fun, differently-paced challenge than the other games on here, but you need some pretty decent nerves to make it through this one though.

STAR FIRE SPIRITS–clone of the Atari Star Wars vector game, although it plays a little differently. The first wave of T. I. E. Fighter-like ships doesn’t have any of the camera view panning around, taking you to the next ship after you destroyed one, so it can take a while before you nail all the ships before going onto the next stage, which involves blowing up laser towers and bunkers. The towers come in at random, rather than in pre-determined patterns like the original, and this wave also can take a bit of time to get through. The final stage is pretty much like the original’s though, however there are no catwalks in the later levels. Still fun though.

Graphics on the games range from blah (just little ‘v‘s in Vaders) to good, although the sounds are better, and the control’s pretty solid throughout. Even with a few bugs and issues – no extra shield unlike promised on Spirits when you blow up the Death Star-like Dark Planet, explosions wrapping around the screen edges on Birds and Patriots, how come no pause on Vector Vaders, etc.? – this is one of the usual “must have” homebrews, especially when you consider at $20 U. S. (not counting shipping), that’s less than $2.50 a game! And a little over three years later, I can still whip this cartridge out and give it some playing that it deserves, it’ll take quite a while before you’ll get sick of these games.

But then, most of y’all have this already anyway and already knew that anyhow, right?

Score 9/10

Review written by Darryl

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Vecmania page (archived)
  2. All Good Things page (archived)
  3. Killer List of Video Games Repulse page


This article uses material from the Gaming Wikia Vecmania article and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.