Monday, May 7, 2012

Spike (Vectrex Game)

I really wanted to like Spike. Spike is to the Vectrex what Mario would be to the NES if the NES had no other recognizable characters. Unfortunately, Spike is not a very good game. It's the opposite of a good game.

As it has been stated by every person ever to review Vectrex games, there are things the Vectrex does well, and things it does poorly. It's a fantastic platform for space shooters a la Asteroids, but it's an incredibly poor platform for platformers. As far as I know, Spike is the only platformer from the original stable of Vectrex games, and it's not hard to see why.

You play Spike, the harsh-voiced (yes, spike features voice synthesis and needs no voice module to do it. Quite a feat for the day) star-shaped hero. At the opening screen, Spike's annoying girlfriend Molly is kidnapped. Spike then appears on a series of moving platforms. Your job is to move spike up the ladders, pick up the key, and jump through the door. It isn't shown, but jumping through the door apparently saves Molly. Once saved, Molly immediately gets kidnapped again and you go up the platforms again to save her. She's apparently easier to nab than Princess Peach.

There are a whole bunch of things wrong with Spike. First of all, the repetitive gameplay makes this game a chore. The voice synthesis is raspy and unappealing, but you get to hear it over and over and over, so you'll really hate it by the time all your lives are spent. Enemies are poorly animated and the collision detection is spotty. Jumping is somewhat imprecise. Sometimes you'll jump too short and fall through the space between platforms, and other times you'll overjump and fall off the other side. The fact that Spike is so large makes him a perfect target for enemies, many of which simply cannot be avoided. Spike just isn't any fun to play. It feels more like a demo than a finished product.

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