Monday, May 7, 2012

Tour de France (Vectrex Game)

Tour de France is the clear winner out of all the unreleased Vectrex games. It's unique, it's inventive, and most of all, it's playable. This could have easily been a decent commercial release. The fact that it wasn't was probably mostly due to the early demise of the Vectrex in the video game crash of 1983 (I find the crash to be absolutely fascinating. If anyone has a good book recommendation about the period, I'd be glad to hear about it). Anyway, this is a fully-realized game that's easily better than commercial games like Star Hawk.

The game begins with the opening fanfare from the French national anthem. Your cyclist starts out slowly at first, but as you shift gears you'll find yourself flying down the road, passing other cyclists, dodging banana peels, and attempting to pick up water bottles. You'll smoothly scroll past trees, telephone polls, guardrails, and other appealing scenery. As you pass the Arc de Triomphe, your cyclist will raise his arms in triumph, even if he lost. The whole thing is nicely animated and fun to play. This is a perfect example of a non-shooter that works on the Vectrex.

The downside of the game is that it does suffer from some blink and collision detection issues (I swear I passed through some of my opponents rather than around them). There are no sound effects as the game gets underway, and the silence is a little eerie. Even with these few warts, I found Tour de France to be a whole lot of fun. I'll be playing it again real soon.

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