Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Homebrew Demos for the Vectrex

Included with the multicart were a number of homebrew demos. These are unfinished games or concepts that are somewhat playable in some form or fashion. A few of them are very interesting, so I thought I'd write a little blurb on each one.

Abyss- John Dondzilla- This game looks like a sort of Gyruss mixed with Tempest. You rotate around a segmented cylinder as enemies approach and you blast 'em. The game does not yet have points, sound effects, or collision detection for enemies hitting your ship. It's an interesting demo with a fair amount of promise...provided John decides to do anything with it.

B.E.T.H.- Manu Pärssinen- B.E.T.H. starts out with some of the coolest music I've heard on the Vectrex. Then the game starts with what appears to be ships in bubbles. Your ship will drift up and to the right no matter what you do. It will then explode, leaving you wondering what you've just witnessed. Clearly B.E.T.H. has a lot more work needed before it's a playable game, but the music is cool.

Disc Duel- Jon Dondzila- This is one of the better and more promising games in the homebrew demos section. It's clearly an attempt to recreate a certain scene from Tron, and it does a fine job. Two of the buttons move you right and left, another throws your discs, and another causes you to raise both hands and make an electrical arc between them. Not sure what that's supposed to do, but it looks cool. Your opponent never moves, which either means this was intended as a two player game, or that part of the game hasn't been written yet. There are no sound effects for the game yet, and there are things that are clearly just not done yet. Even so, it really looks and feels like a decent Tron game, which is an accomplishment considering how many crappy Tron games there are.

Vecsports Kingpin- Manu Pärssinen- This is an interesting little bowling game that looks pretty close to a completed product. It defaults to 4 player mode, and I'm not sure you can play it as a single player. In order to bowl, you watch the arrow that scrolls back and forth across the lane and press the button when it's lined up where you want it. It's more tricky than you think, and it's genuinely hard to get a strike (I never got one). Clearly Manu Pärssinen is having some cool ideas. He'll be one to watch in the Vectrex homebrew community.

Nonagalf- Manu Pärssinen- This is a miniature golf game that's playable. It features only one hole, which is why it's still in the demo stage. The one hole is reasonably challenging, and the controls are fairly accurate yet forgiving. I would love to see more of this game.

Spike Goes Skiing- Andy Coleman- This is a game by the creator of my multicart. This game is a beta version, which means it's pretty much done and in play testing mode. It's another way in which Spike is being redeemed by homebrewers. The game is very similar to the old Skiing game from Activision for the Atari 2600, but rather than a regular skier, you control Spike. In the first stage, you maneuver through a slalom course with nice, wide gates. Once you cross the finish line, you enter a stage similar to Preppie. You have to cross a busy street, pick up your skis, and bring them back to where you started. Once you pass that stage, you'll hit the slalom course again, but with narrower gates this time. By this point, I usually died so I don't know what lurks beyond. This is a decent fully-fledged skiing game and by far the most playable thing in the homebrew demos section.

Vexperience- Manu Pärssinen- This was intended as a two game cartridge. It features another version of B.E.T.H. with the same impressive intro, and is as unplayable as the other one. It doesn't even look like the same game. The second game is Vec Sports Boxing, which features two large boxers and no collision detection as of yet. The boxers are somewhat comically animated, and I'm not sure how well this game would work if completed, but it's another stab at a non-space shooter, so there's that.

Yoehl- Manu Pärssinen- This game feature two screens. The first looks a little like Commando, but instead of shooting at solidiers, you're chasing down a Space Invader. Once you catch the guy, you'll go through a cool transition screen and he'll be at the top of the screen shooting three projectiles at a time while you shoot only one back. There is no collision detection yet, but it's an interesting demo nevertheless.

Ztagger- Manu Pärssinen- I don't know what this is. You're in a rotating ship that shoots at the Playstation button symbols that crawl slowly across the screen. There's no collision detection and seemingly no point. At least not yet.

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