Homebrew -2015

Pitcher’s Duel

status: released
author: unkown
year: 198x / 2007
(released by Sean Kelly, Joe Santulli, John Hardie)
type: game / sports
download: bin-file (TOSEC)
source code: no
hardware release: yes
homepage: no
info:

Omega Chase

status: released
author: Christopher L. Tumber
year: 1998
type: game / shooter
download: bin-file omega_chase.bin
source code: no
hardware release: yes
homepage: omega-chase-deluxe
info:

Review
I played the original Omega Race at a local arcade from back in the day. Even though being the self-admitted (obviously!) vector freak that I am, I never thought it was that great of a game (but then, maybe I need to play it again years later?), as I’d just play a game of it and then move onto something else.

Now, this homebrew clone really improves on the game’s basics, expands on them, and ends up blowing it away.

First off, the game’s fun enough as it is, and then having the center barrier and track change with every level was a really good idea.

This is what Ms. Pac-Man was to Pac-Man: the original was great enough as it was, but changing mazes every other level even possibly topped the original. And having two players simultaneous is something the original didn’t have (it was alternating turns on that version). Hopefully I’ll update this review and say how much fun that is with another person once I try that out.

The graphics and sounds are only ok for the most part, as the “downer” sound when you earn an extra life sounds like you did something wrong and you had a deduction from your score or something. There’s also a bug when enemy ships sometimes pass through walls. Controls respond well but it can be difficult to get the exact firing angle you want.

Still, this is a pretty good clone, even though the invisible walls deal can be annoying. I look forward to Tumber re-releasing the Collectors edition at some point (he said he might do that) so I can get the version where you can steer using controller buttons (the one I have doesn’t allow it) and you have to deal with enemies that go in two directions, rather than ones that just play follow the leader here.

7.5/10 (Review by Darrylb)

Moon Lander

status: released
author: Clay Cowgill
year: 1999
type: game / lander
download: bin-file moon.bin
source code: no
hardware release: yes
homepage: http://www.packratvg.com/vmlander.html
info:

Review
Getting a new Vectrex homebrew is always a treat, especially the ones that are just as, if not even BETTER, than the original GCE-released games from back in the heyday. Hell, I’ve yet to play a bad homebrew m’self, and Moon Lander is no exception, especially since it blows away it’s inspiration of the Atari vector coin-op of Lunar Lander. No, this isn’t an old memory playing me false – I last played it less than three years ago (at the time of this writing) at a gaming expo – so, trust me, this game has a better variety and challenge, rather than landing on the same three spots over and over again.

The game is a real treat from the beginning of seeing one of the best homebrew box covers yet to the digitized voice countdown during the demo, along with cool Russian-sounding music to the cinematics (and taking advantage of the Vectrex’s excellent fading capabilities) of your ship blasting off from a successful landing and having the landscape fade away.

The premise is simple: try to land your…uh, lander on the moon without running out of fuel or crashing it. This is more difficult than it probably sounds here, since your lander dips a little below the landscape before actually landing. So chances are you’re going to blow yourself up quite a few times until you get the hang of it.

Rather than in Lunar Lander, with every successful landing, you’re treated to a new landscape on Moon Lander, some of which has tricky navigation in order to land. Gravity pulls also vary from planet to planet, requiring new strategies then, along with – reverse gravity – (you’re pulled UP towards the atmosphere, rather than down), and then freakin’ satellites are also a problem, since colliding with them means death, and then KILLER satellites make a beeline for you as well; argh!

And of course, just like with the original, you’re constantly running out of fuel…granted, you’ll get a full fuel tank with each new moon, but it kind of makes you wonder why this is constantly happening in the wonderful future where space travel is obviously well underway. Perhaps car companies that make the gas-guzzling SUVs nowadays make these landers, or Microsoft continued it’s hugely gigantic growth to the point of making spaceships, which you have to constantly land to upgrade your ship, or else it’ll constantly crash (heh; geddit?).

There’s not many sounds in this game, and they’re not bad, but several musical interludes make up for them. The graphics are ok, but the controls are perfect, and the game also has a welcome pause feature as well. About the only thing that I don’t like about it is that, at times, you might feel the need to shoot the hell out of something to change the pace and game objective, but that won’t happen. There’s also 32 levels in this game (if I remember correctly), which chances are most of us aren’t going to get that far (the highest I’ve ever gotten to is about half that number, if even that far!). There are cheats to allow you to beat the game though, if you can’t do it on your own.

Well THAT, plus this is the only game Clay Cowgill has made at the time of this writing, which, if his games are going to be this stellar, it’s too bad he doesn’t have more time on his hands to make any more (probably due to his business of Ground Kontrol, a mostly classics arcade, is open until 1 a. m. [!], even on weekdays!). And that’s a shame.

It’s worth the journey, and you won’t have to stock up on Tang and dried meal packets in order to enjoy it.

Score: 8/10 Review written by Darryl

VecTrace / Vaboom!

status: released
author: Ronen Habot
year: 2000
type: game / race
download: bin-file
source code: no
hardware release: yes
homepage: http://www.packratvg.com/vrgc.html +
http://vgcollect.freehosting.net/myvectrex.htm
info:

Review
Vaboom!/Vectrace (aka Ronen’s Games Cart) is a bit of an oddity in the Vectrex homebrew world. First off, upon doing searches on the net, I can’t even find any other reviews of it anywhere, even though this cart is nine years old at the time of this writing. So it looks like this site is the first (or one of the few) to have one. There’s also not many compilations with clones that were already done for the Vectrex beforehand, like Vaboom! was (although it does have a few differences to make it stand out against John Dondzila’s Spike’s Water Balloons though). And as far as Vectrace goes, well, how many racing games have there BEEN for the Vectrex? Not many.

So, onto the review part, the first one being Vaboom!, a Kaboom! clone, which exploded (sorry for that pun) onto the gaming scene in the 1980s, seeing ports of all kinds of console and computer setups galore back then (and you can still see some clones of it nowadays on the internet and all too). The original game consisted of a mad bomber (made obvious with him constantly frowning) dropping bombs, which you had to catch them with buckets; miss a bomb, and you lost a bucket, once you were out of buckets, it was game over then, you bombed out (again, sorry…). A very simple, yet addicting, fast “twitch” type of classic.

In this update though, it has the above elements, but when you miss a bomb, the action keeps on going, no pause as the remaining bombs explode like in the original. However, occasionally the “man” (as he’s called in the instructions) will drop an X down, which, if you catch it by accident, it will take away one of your paddles. But, if you catch the occasional heart he drops, you’ll gain a bucket back (no regaining of a bucket every 1,000 points like with the original). Sometimes the idiot will also drop a fast-moving diamond as well, which is worth big points, and sometimes a bomb will be sent back up towards him. Smacking him is a good thing too (he gets what he deserves), especially since, if you smack him 10 times, you’re treated to a bonus round where not only are the bombs worth three times their normal point value, but a miss won’t erase a paddle, nor will a caught X penalize you either.

These bonuses add to the game so much I’m giving this a 7.5 out of 10, which I usually don’t rate clones very highly in general, since an idea from an already existing game had to be taken and usually only a few things were added to it (big whup!). But in this case it works well without screwing up the original in the least.

Vectrace, on the other hand, doesn’t fare as well, unfortunately. In that game, you have a certain amount of time to pass a certain amount of cars on the road, or else you have to do the race over again if you don’t accomplish that. Smashing into a car changes the “shape” of your car; if your shape goes down to 0, you lose a car. It starts off easy but gets very difficult pretty quickly, with cars filling up all three lanes, making it impossible to NOT take a hit (if not several) during the course of a race. For very occasional play, I’d give this one a 6, but overall it’s really only a 5.5, since I don’t think I’ve spent 15 minutes straight playing it ever since I got it a few weeks ago, due to the frustration/lack of fun level. And due to all Vectrexes being different, I still can’t for the life of me read probably even half of the slanted messages that appear on the screen of either one of the games. Whatever!

The graphics only fare ok, as they’re adequate for Vaboom!, although I like how the paddles have an extra side now, giving it a more 3-D look. The cars in Vectrace look like freakin’ go-carts though, but at least the scrolling is smooth for both games (and with only a tiny amount of slowdown during the last few rounds of Vaboom!). However, the sounds are worse, as the sound of catching the bombs in Vaboom! can grate on the nerves. The others are ok though, and about all you get for Vectrace is the grinding noise of the engines…also annoying, like the fun noise of someone dragging their fingernails across a chalkboard. Back to the good side though, the controls for both games work very smoothly, although I can’t comment on how the modified Atari 2600 controller works for them though, since I don’t have one.

Overall I’d give this cartridge a 6.5. I’d rate it higher if Vectrace was more fun and didn’t end after only three races, and even Vaboom! has a “ceiling”, since at level 19 (if you can make it that far) a glitch stops the bomber guy from dropping bombs, all he’ll drop is the occasional diamond, Xs and hearts from there on. So you can’t go any further than that, unless you’re just really bored.

I don’t know what’s up with creator Ronen Habot nowadays, but he seems to be M. I. A., due to his website not being updated in years and my e-mail came bouncing back from sending in my photo of the win screen from Vectrace. So, I’d assume he has no time on his hands nowadays for any other Vectrex games, but I’d like to see a sequel to Vectrace, just as long as he were to do away with the cars in every lane, lowering the possibility of the “get through a race without crashing” crap (which would be nice). Make the lanes and cars smaller, just put in some oil slicks to make your car skid around the place…then put in some bottleneck areas (a la the arcade game of Bump ‘n Jump) to shrink the amount of lanes to shake things up and make the courses…well, actually a COURSE this time around, not just the straightaway of three lanes, that’s a bit boring!

And spice up the graphics a bit. They kind of suck.

Score: 6.5/10 review written by Darryl

VecSport Boxing

status: released
author: Manu Pärssinen
year: 2001
type: game / sport
download: bin-file (contained in TOSEC)
source code: no
hardware release: yes (several)
homepage: Manu’s site
info:
Lorem ipsum….

Tsunami / Vix

status: released
author: Christopher L. Tumber
year: 2002
type: game / tempest like / quix like
download: bin-file tsu-dl.bin + vix-dl.bin
source code: no
hardware release: yes
homepage: tsunamivix
info:
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VeCaves/Spike’s Spree

status: released
author: Mark De Smet
year: 2002
type: game / cave, dodger
download: no
source code: no
hardware release: yes (sold out)
homepage: ~de-smet/projects.html
info:
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Protector / Y*A*S*I

status: released
author: Alex Herbert
year: 2003
type: game / invader
download: binary py050712.zip
source code: no
hardware release: yes
homepage: http://www.packratvg.com/vprotyasi.html +
http://www.herbs64.plus.com/
info:
Lorem ipsum….

Review
Protector
Protector must be seen to be believed. Author Alex Herbert has done what many other Vectrex game developers before him have failed to do. That is bundle a magnificant game with an equally magnificant looking overlay and packaging. The packaging is professional right down to the robust black box and the etched Protector symbol proclaiming the games individuality. Inside an original Sean Kelly Vectrex cartridge, and is brand new thanks to Sean’s ingenuity of supplying game developers with near exact replicas of the original Vectrex GCE cartridges from the 80’s.

Everything is so exquisite to the highest calibre; the simple yet informative instructions, the individually numbered cartridge and the outrageous bright pink overlay proclaiming “Protector” in authentic 80’s font. This is RETRO to the maximum and will take some beating as Herbert lays down the gauntlet for all future games to personify. There were only 100 of these babies ever released worldwide and I was lucky enough to get a hold of one to take for a spin.

Protector is based on the 1980 Williams Electronics “Defender” designed by Eugene Jarvis in which you pilot a craft and rescue “humanoids” from the savage and forbidding aliens. It’s a case of zap or get zapped as you come up against “Baiters, Bombers, Pods and Swarmers” who will go out of their way to make sure the humanoids stay in their evil clutches. This side-scrolling shooter is fast, I’m talking off the dial fast, and at times you’ll need every last weapon in your arsenal to combat the enemy and just stay alive for the few frenzied minutes of intense in-your-face gameplay.

Included on the Protector Limited Edition cart is another equally brilliant game called Spike Goes Down. This game is like a bonus hidden game and has some of the best music I have heard on a Vec. The graphics in this Spike game resemble no other Vectrex game and although simple, Spike Goes Down could have been released independently and would have been a very worthwhile purchase.

Going on the age of the Vectrex she is likely to have heart failure when you unleash the fury and grandiose of PROTECTOR upon her. The Vectrex community pays homage to Alex Herbert for his innovative and compelling programming techniques which push the humble Vec to it’s limits. I can’t recommend this game more highly. Be advised.

Score 9.7/10

YASI (Yet Another Space Invader)

Alex Herbert from the U.K. is the guy programming more commercial Vectrex games than most other game developers at present. The magnificant Protector was released early in 2003 and the follow up games YASI was released in November 2003. Herbert’s games really push the Vectrex to it’s limits and this faithful Space Invaders clone is no exception.

Arcade Space Invaders was originally released by Taito in Japan and was programmed by Toshiro Nishikado in 1978. Space Invaders was the game which was instrumental in creating the videogame industry as we know it today. It involves manouvering a laser base left or right and shooting alien invaders, which congregate in rows, and utilising protective bunkers to aid you against enemy fire. But you allready knew that.

If you have received your copy of YASI in the mail from Mark Shaker you will know that the cartridge not only includes the re-released Protector but the packaging and cover art is up to scratch with, and even surpasses, the presentation of many other modern console games. Manu Parssinen, the cover artist, has really gone all out and his use of Photoshop in presenting a customized Vectrex console with Space Invaders artwork adds significantly to the games appeal.

YASI is about as close to Space Invaders as you can get and the invader who steals the ‘C’ from ‘CCOIN’ in the original also replaces the upside down ‘Y’ from ‘YASI’ in the games introduction screen is also present. YASI goes into my top 5 favourite Vectrex games. Keep up the good work Alex.

Score 9/10
**Space Invaders caused a huge yen shortage in Japan in the early 80’s.

Reviews written by Daniel Foot

Thrust

status: released
author: Ville Krumlinde
year: 2004
type: game
download: bin-file, instructions VectrexThrust.zip
source code: yes
hardware release: yes
homepage: VectrexThrust + http://www.packratvg.com/vthrust.html
info:

Review

Introduction:
Whilst Ville Krumlinde is quite new to the world of coding for the Vectrex his Thrust offering has all the workings of a classic Vectrex gravity shooter with grit and polish. Thrust is based on the Commodore 64 classic of the same name, which was released by Mastertronic back in 1985. But this time there’s no colour but still the capricious gameplay, which made the C64, game a sizzler.

As the story goes, you have been incremented by the resistance to steal some important pods from the Empire’s accumulation. The Empire has captured a number of battle-grade starships and it is the job for the player to steal these pods from the Empire. When you start off on Thrust the introduction screen takes you straight into an ambient transient sci-fi world and sets the atmosphere for the first level as you take flight and wonder for the first instant what in the world is going on. But soon you realise that Krumlinde has manufactured something likeable and at first difficult to master.

The Graphics:
The graphics in Thrust are simple yet do the job something like Dondzila’s Gravitrex did the job for a gravitar style game. The vectors are sharp and crisp and there is only the slightest bit of overhang on some of the vectors such as the fuel stations and the Klystron pods.
Stars appear in the night sky and if you hover your ship above the foreboding landscape down below you could imagine you are floating through space on a mission with a pod attached to you’re ship roaming and waiting to destroy the remaining ‘Limpet’ guns which fires shots at you’re ship. So to be sure the graphics are well defined and do the full trick.

The Gameplay:
The ship you are commanding has a very sensitive thrust mechanism and to refuel once you’re fuel supplies are running low is just a matter of activating the tractor beam and you’re fuel supplies will be replenished. To collect a Klystron pod the same method is used but the player must be aware that hovering around the planets night sky with a pod attached to you’re ship can send the rookie hurtling out of control in search for a final resting place for the pod. Klystron pods and the odd space station thrown in are also well-drawn withy only the aforementioned slight vector overhang. The non-volatile high score memory offers appeal and functionality to save high scores.

Sound:
No in game music to speak of but all the sound effects seem to accompany each movement of the ship and the warping sound which triggers when the ship is refuelling fits nicely into the vibe of the game. The lasers sound out a phaser blast as you’re ship takes fire at the limpet guns and with around 3 or 4 shots to take out one of the limpet gun there is no accompanying explosion sound but the gun vaporises and an onscreen score is displayed for reward.

Conclusion:
Thrust is a well designed if tricky game. Having had some experience with the old C64 classic it won’t take the retro enthusiast too long to be picking up pods and firing at the power plants. The main difficulty is when the Klystron pod is attached to you’re ship and getting the motion just right so you’re ship and the pod are not rotating and flying out of control with no prevailing means of in hindrance.

The graphics and SFX are solid though it may have been nice to see graphic indications of you’re remaining fuel supply instead of just a numerical representation. Those who liked Dondzila’s Gravitrex should like Thrust and a quick trip over to Mark Shaker’s www.vectrexcarts.com will land you a copy of this quality gravitar clone for US$11.50 plus shipping. Great!

GFX – 8.5
PLAY – 8.5
SFX – 9
Overall – 8.5
Review written by Daniel Foot

Revector

status: released
author: Graig Aker
year: 2004
type: game
download: bin-file, instructions revector.zip
source code: no
hardware release: yes
homepage: revector/ + packratvg.com
info:
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Nebula Commander

status: released
author: Graig Aker
year: 2005
type: game
download: bin-file, instructions nebula.zip
source code: no
hardware release: yes
homepage: nebula/ + packratvg.com
info:
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Spikes Circus

status: released
author: Alex Nicholson
year: 2006
type: game
download: no
source code: no
hardware release: yes
homepage: spikes-circus + gi_circus.html
info:
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Logo

status: released
author: Alex Nicholson
year: 2006
type: language
download: no
source code: no
hardware release: yes
homepage: logolite + logo.html
info:
Lorem ipsum….

Star Sling

status: released
author: Alex Nicholson
year: 2007
type: language
download: no (incl. in ParaJVE at: download (v0.6))
source code: no
hardware release: yes
homepage: star-sling + gi_ssling.html
info:
Lorem ipsum….

Nagoya Attack beta

status: beta
author: Binary Star
year: 2013
type: game / shooter (invaders)
download: bin-file, Nagoya_Attack_beta.BIN
source code: yes
hardware release: yes (ebay)
homepage: www.binarystarsoftware.com
info:
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Veccy Bird

status: released
author: Michael Simonds
year: 2014
type: game
download: bin-file, source Veccy_Bird_V1_5.zip
source code: yes
hardware release: no
homepage: vectorgaming.proboards.com
info:
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P1X3l-Pushr

status: released
author: ALeX Kazik
year: 2014
type: game / puzzle (Sokoban)
download: bin-file, source
vectrex-p1x3l-pushr-improved.zip
source code: yes
hardware release: no
homepage: alex.kazik.de
info:
Lorem ipsum….

Xmas Cart 2014

status: released
author: Binary Star
year: 2014
type: game collection
download: bin-file, Xmas_Cart_2014_FREE.BIN
source code: no
hardware release: yes (ebay)
homepage: www.binarystarsoftware.com
info:
Lorem ipsum….

Circus Vectrex

status: stopped (completed?) (July 2019)
author: Garry Grierson
year: 2015
type: game
download: bin-file / in Vide
source code: no
hardware release: no
homepage: programming-projects
info:
Lorem ipsum….

Subwars

status: released
author: Mountaingoate
year: 2015
type: game (2 player only)
download: bin-file / via github
source code: no
hardware release: no
homepage: https://github.com/mountaingoate/vectrex
info:
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Vectrexagon

status: releases
author: Andreas Gustafsson (SDW Developments)
year: 2015
type: game
download: bin-file vectrexagon_downloadable.bin
source code: no
hardware release: yes
homepage: vectrexagon/ + packratvg.com
info:
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Marina Fox

status: released
author: Mountaingoate
year: 2015
type: game (inspired by Solar Fox)
download: bin-file / via github
source code: no
hardware release: no
homepage: https://github.com/mountaingoate/vectrex
info:
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Block

status: released?
author: Michael Borrmann
year: 2015
type: game
download: bin-file, block.bin
source code: no
hardware release: no
homepage: http://www.borrmann.in
info:
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Xmas Cart 2015

status: released
author: Binary Star
year: 2015
type: game collection
download: bin-file, XMAS_2015_FREE.BIN
source code: no
hardware release: yes (ebay)
homepage: www.binarystarsoftware.com
info:
Lorem ipsum….

Schoolbrewers

http://www.simulationsraum.de/blog/2015/09/24/logik-jumper/ (German)


Some reviews were taken (with permission) from: Vectrex_Wiki