Thursday 19 November 2015

Cosmic Chasm (Vectrex review)

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Released: 1982

Cosmic Chasm is a shoot-em-up that was ported to the Arcades a year later by Cinematronics.

Your mission is to reach the centre base, destroy an alien-infested planet and then exit before it blows up. Button 1 drills through force fields that lead to adjoining caverns, 2 adds a shield to protect your ship (at the cost of being able to fire), 3 thrusts you forwards, while 4 shoots your dual lasers. As you start a map displays the caverns and passageways and it's your job to find the quickest route to the centre. The first cavern is automatically chosen for you and once inside you need to shoot the Planet Protectors that swarm on your direction. You'll also have to watch out for the deadly middle ring as it's booby-trapped and continues to expand the longer you're in there. After you clear the room you can escape the current cavern by slowly drilling the force field blocking the exit. As you work your way through the map you'll eventually reach the centre cavern and pulling back on the joystick drops a bomb; a 15 second timer is then activated and it's up to you to retrace your steps to get out alive. It's absolutely thrilling and the countdown clock adds some real anxiety as you desperately navigate your way around using your memory. Once you've escaped you move on to the next mission with faster enemies. Each button on the controller is expertly used and I love how quick reactions are needed to shoot aliens while also strategically using your shield for protection. You only have five lives but the difficulty is perfect and you're gradually eased into the action. I also love that the map changes each time you play so you never quite know where you're going to start; this forces you to plan your attack beforehand and it's very engaging. The only minor downsides are that it can sometimes be hard to line up your shot quickly and the fire button is occasionally laggy.

Cosmic Chasm is a deeply engrossing shooter that successfully blends adventure and RTS-like elements to create one of the best experiences on the Vectrex. The action is enjoyable and the constantly changing maps and starting points add tons of replay value to the already addictive gameplay.

Random trivia: This was the first game made for a home console that was later ported to the Arcades; usually it worked the other way around.

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