Wednesday 30 December 2015

AnimAction (Vectrex review)

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Released: 1983

AnimAction is a sketching / animation game that requires the Vectrex Light Pen.

It's more involved than Art Master (1983, Vectrex) as you can select from 48 pre-drawn objects to make your animation including facial features, shapes and even animals. There's also an option to create up to 20 of your own objects and save them to the library! This involves moving the cursor to your desired location and then using Button 2 in conjunction with the Pen to draw your shape. From here you can change its size, rotate or flip it, as well as make it brighter or dimmer. These features are great and give you lots of flexibility but the input commands aren't intuitive as some require button combinations or even the analog stick; therefore, referring to the manual is a must. Freehand drawing is also available which is useful for creating a stationary background while the objects animate around it. Straight lines can be drawn by holding down Button 2 and you can erase line-by line if needed. Drawing works great but there are a few restrictions as you can only have 80 free-hand lines or 40 straight lines on screen; therefore you need to keep things fairly simple. Once you're happy with the first frame you press the NXT icon to start the next frame; here you can reposition previous objects to create a sense of movement. I love that after altering the position of the objects you can press Button 4 twice to see a shadow of the previous frame so no guesswork is required. Depending on how many objects you use in your entire animation you can have up to a massive 28 frames (for comparison Art Master only had nine) and when you're finished pressing PLY allows you to watch back the animation. There's a real sense of satisfaction when you see the final outcome and the highly responsive Pen and multitude of editing options mean it's a joy to create throughout.
AnimAction provides much more freedom than Art Master and the extended feature list allows your imagination to run wild. It does have a steeper learning curve but the sophisticated tools deepen the experience so that both children and adults can sink hours into creating their masterpieces.
Random trivia: This is the only Vectrex cartridge to house additional memory in the form of 2K RAM.

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