Tuesday 3 March 2015

Clean Sweep (Vectrex review)

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Released: 1982

Clean Sweep is a Pac-Man clone where you play as a vacuum cleaner collecting dollar bills around the screen!

Despite being one of the many 1980's clones the thing that sets Clean Sweep apart is that you can only collect a certain number of bills at one time. Once your vacuum is full you'll need to drop off your current load at the hub in the middle of the screen. This will return you to normal size and you'll be able to continue collecting bills. It's a really nice feature and it adds some strategy to the gameplay as you tend to focus on smaller areas at a time. In each corner of the screen is a square box that only you can enter; these house an invincibility power-up which lasts for a short amount of time and it allows you to still collect money even if your vacuum is full. Being a high score game one of the great things is that if you collect all the levels' bills while you're invincible the game briefly continues, giving you the chance to gobble up some more enemies for points. Once this power-up runs out the screen flashes and takes you through to the next level. The difficulty is very fair and unlike a lot of Vectrex titles you're eased into the action rather than struggling to advance from the get-go. The only thing I don't like is that this kind of twitch gameplay isn't really suited to the Vectrex controller. The analog stick is great for games that require a full range of motion but Clean Sweep is perhaps better suited to a d-pad where you can react faster with a quick button press. There's times where you'll try to make a split second decision but end up losing a life as it takes slightly longer to push the Vectrex analog stick towards your chosen direction. In terms of SFX there's nothing to really shout about as it's just the usual Pac-Man type noises.

If you're looking for a good Pac-Man clone try Clean Sweep. While it isn't radically different from Namco's arcade classic it does have some unique elements that keep the gameplay feeling fresh.

Random trivia: An alternate version of this game was released in limited quantities. Called Mr. Boston (after a liquor company) it plays exactly the same but you control a top hat instead of a vacuum.

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