Originally programmed and designed by Larry Rosenthal Space Wars was purchased by Cinematronics in 1977. As rumour has it Rosenthal approached many manufacturers with Space Wars demanding that he receive 50 per cent of the games profits befor distribution came developed. Accepting this deal Cinematronics manufactured the arcade machine, which was strictly a two-player game, and Space Wars stayed in the top 10 arcade money earners for 3 straight years from 1978 till 1980, selling 30,000 units. Arcade Space wars and later StarHawk were the last 4k games of the era and later games went on to be a more hefty 8k.
Produced in 1982 the Vectrex version of Space Wars is faithful to it’s arcade big brother where 2 spaceships face-off around a glowing sun, in the middle of the playfield, and it is the objective of each payer to obliterate his/her opponent before fuel and laser fire runs out. The difference being that the Vectrex version also has a one-player mode and the difficulty level can be selected by the player which effects the skill of the opposing computer controlled ship. The design of the ships seems familiar,with one reminiscent of the starship enterprise and the other bearing much resemblance to the Asteroids ship of old.
The playfield is a hostile place with the sun’s gravity constantly sucking the player’s ship towards it’s centre and a floating meteor which will do it’s darnedest to make sure you do not survive a bout alive. Once 10 bouts are complete the player with the highest amount of wins is victorious and then it’s time to select a more difficult skill level to show the you have the right stuff to continue on your winning streak. Along the way you will encounter damage inflicted by your opponent which results in a part of your ship flying off into the abyss of outer space resulting in a shattered yet determined fragment of your craft’s former self.
The graphics for Space Wars are quite effective and sound effects to boot with the added benefit of two-player simultaneous play with a second Vectrex control panel plugged in. A complete Space Wars sells for around $40.U.S. on ebay so keep your eyes peeled and you can have all the grandeur of the 80’s arcade hit in your home.
Review written by Daniel Foot
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