Sunday 20 December 2015

Space Wars (Vectrex review)

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Released: 1982

Space Wars is a shoot-em-up that was first released in the Arcades in 1977.

It supports 1-2 players and the objective is to destroy the opposing ship ten times to win. The controls are similar to other Vectrex shooters as the joystick rotates your vehicle, Button 2 transports you to a new location, 3 thrusts forward and 4 fires lasers. As you battle you'll need to watch your supplies (located in the top-right) as you only have a certain amount of fuel and laser power; once a round ends the stock replenishes. Although you can occasionally take multiple hits you must dodge meteorites that float around as well as avoiding the sun (located in the centre) as they'll instantly kill you. There's seven gameplay variations which affect the skill level, ship and laser speed, as well as the strength of the sun's gravity which can pull you in. Despite the different setting the gameplay is reminiscent of Armor Attack (1982, Vectrex) as it's essentially a one-on-one battle in an enclosed arena. The game's strongest point is that there's multiple ways to win; for example, you could just go all-out and hunt straight after the enemy, guns blazing. However, there's the more tactical approach which is to keep your distance until the opposing ship runs out of fuel; at this point you can swoop in and shoot down their immobile vehicle. One of the main difficulties I found though is that it's annoyingly tough to fire accurately and frustration quickly sets in as you beam lasers all around your opponent instead of hitting them! Also, even on the easiest setting the CPU is extremely intelligent and puts up a strong fight; they can even kill you within a split second of a round starting so it's best to immediately move your vehicle. The higher difficulty settings are utterly ridiculous as the ships move too fast and the sun's gravity is too strong which literally makes the game unplayable.
Space Wars is a mildly entertaining shooter with a few layers of strategy to its simplistic gameplay. However, I just didn't find it very engaging and unless you have the social element of two human players battling it out it likely won't hold your interest for very long.
Random trivia: There's a way to gain temporary invincibility in this game; find out more here.

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