Monday 28 December 2015

Art Master (Vectrex review)

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Released: 1983

Art Master is a sketching and animation tool that requires the Vectrex Light Pen.

It has three modes with the first being Sketch. To begin drawing you first need to hover the Light Pen over the on-screen cross to move it to your desired location; when you're happy with this holding down Button 1 allows you to draw lines. You can also stretch lines afterwards with Button 2, erase with Button 3 or create fan shapes with Button 4. There's only a limited number of vectors available for each sketch so if you hear a beep you only have ten lines left to finish your creation; this restriction means that you can't really create anything detailed so unfortunately simple sketches are the only option. Also, it's easy to accidentally draw a duff line and there's no way to undo without erasing the entire sketch. In Connect mode you create drawings as dots rather than straight lines; once you're happy with your sketch pressing Button 4 shows the drawing with all of the dots connected. Really, this mode is better for two players as you can draw an object and see if your friend can guess what it is. While it's cool to see your sketch become connected it suffers from the same issues as the first mode and the novelty quickly wears off. Animate allows you to create moving sketches with up to 31 vector lines. Using Button 2 to create lines you simply draw an object and then press Next to move onto the second frame (out of a maximum of nine). After you've drawn each frame hitting Play and then Button 3 shows you your animation in action; Buttons 3 and 4 can then be used to speed up or slow down the animation. Seeing the vector lines move around smoothly is fascinating and it's like watching an entertaining fireworks show! While you can't create masterpieces there's something hypnotic about it and you can get much amusement from the simplest of animations.
Art Master is a very basic drawing application that's really showing its age due to the technical limitations of the system. Kids might enjoy the game for its fun Animate mode but even then it's unlikely to hold their interest for long due to the heavy restrictions it places on their imagination.
Random trivia: There was one other art game released on the Vectrex called AnimAction (1983).

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