Friday 20 November 2015

Rip-Off (Vectrex review)

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Released: 1982

Rip-Off is a shooter that was first released in the Arcades by Cinematronics in 1979.

You control a ship and your mission is to stop incoming pirates from stealing your valuable fuel cells. These cells are located in the middle of the screen and your method of attack is firing a laser or Thrusting forwards. There's technically no life counter and you can crash into enemies to destroy them at a cost of not having a backup ship appear for a few seconds. It's an interesting mechanic as it gives you another attack option while temporarily penalising you. The game's main objective is to rack up a high score which you do by shooting pirates; there's six types available including some with quick moves and others that fire lasers. Once you've destroyed all six types you enter a Bonus Round where larger points can be earned by surviving additional waves. Incredibly, there's 16 different gameplay options to choose from that affect the number of cells you have to protect, as well as variations on which enemies and bullets can wraparound the screen (i.e. leave one side and enter the other). The latter sounds like a good idea but having wraparound fire is a major disadvantage as you can't shoot as fast due to bullets being visible for longer. The game becomes difficult quickly as after a couple of waves the pirates start speeding into view. The shooting action works perfectly well and the ship controls are sharp and responsive. However, the overall gameplay just isn't very engaging and it seems like you spend as much time waiting for enemies to enter as you do shooting them. While some might argue that the downtime heightens the anticipation of impending waves I personally felt it created a lack of atmosphere. I also wish there was a way to pick up stray fuel cells and bring them back to the centre pod as it would have added a much needed layer of strategy.

Rip-Off plays perfectly well but I found it to be a bit generic and somewhat uninspired. The action just isn't interesting enough and the lack of strategy involved leads to some sparse gameplay with little depth and minimal replay value.

Random trivia: By holding buttons 1 + 2 + 4 on the title screen until the music ends you can access a hidden developer credit.

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