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Spacewar! Legacy

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Page 1:
Spacewar!
Galaxy Game
Computer Space
Space Wars

Page 2:
Orbit
Asteroids
Rip Off
Star Castle

Page 3:
Omega Race
Space Fury
Solar Quest
Eliminator
Space Fortress
Moon War
Space Duel

Page 4:
Zektor
Gravitar
Dark Planet
Mine Storm
Star Trek
Cosmic Chasm
Star Maze

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Cerberus
Blasteroids
Afteroids
Ebonstar
Stardust
Super Stardust
Asteroids (1998)

Page 6:
Star Control series
Starflight
Star Trek TNG
Big Sky Trooper

Page 7:
Fire Fight
Subspace/Continuum
Armada
Battlestar Galactica
Shred Nebula

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What's up, Japan?
Gravity Games
Homebrew

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Omega Race - Arcade, Atari 2600, C64, Colecovision, Vic-20 (1981)

Luxury Cabinet Flyer

German Arcade Flyer

C64 Cover

Midway's first—and only—foray into vector games looks kinda odd at first glance, with the interface taking up the entire center part of the screen. But that was the entire point of the game. We assume the role of a warrior in the Andromeda System in the far future of 2003(!) - the first game in the genre to actually tell a "story" on screen, by the way - and enter the arena to train our skills on "android controlled fighters" in a circuit "race", thus the particular shape of the playfield.

The drones circle around the arena while the player has to hunt them down. Most of them just occasionally drop mines to stop you. A few are more active, though, going faster than the rest and shooting at you. Sometimes drones even decide to go apeshit and make a hunted out of the hunter. The number of active drones at a time and overall aggressiveness rises with each level, so the game becomes difficult quickly. And there's no "cheating" through the levels with unlimited credits either, as there's no continuing supported. Also, if you die, all the drones of the current level respawn.

The Atari 2600 Booster Grip

Just like all former vector games, the actual graphics are monochrome, but Omega Race featured a inlay background as well, showing some space nebulae in rather ugly colors.

Although Omega Race was quite successful, Midway abandoned the genre as soon as they entered it, but there've been a few ports for various home systems. The Atari 2600 version for some reason came with a special joystick add-on for separate thrust and fire buttons, while every other version just used the upper direction for the former. It looks pretty ugly and wastes the space for the interface on the borders of the playfield. It also changes the balancing significantly, with substantially less mines but more aggressive enemy ships. In that respect, the Colecovision port is quite similar, but is much more friendly to the eye due to its colorful graphics. It also features a few cool extra options, like a split in the center wall or portals at the vertical ends of the screen. The AI doesn't take these into account, though, so this can make things easier for the player to ambush the enemies.

Omega Race (C64)

Omega Race for the Commodore VIC-20 and C64 are both pretty close renditions to the arcade version, only with weaker graphics. The C64 version looks significantly better due to its higher resolution. Both allow free color selection for the ships and background.

Midway also displayed a primitive example of game censorship with the original arcade game, as the initials FUC and FUK wouldn't be displayed in the highscore list.

Quick Info:

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Designer:

  • Ron Halliburton

Genre:

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Omega Race (Arcade)

Omega Race (Atari 2600)

Omega Race (Colecovision))


Space Fury - Arcade, Colecovision, PSP (1981)

Arcade Flyer page 1

Arcade Flyer page 2

Australian Colecovision Cover

Developed by their Western acquisition Sega-Gremlin, Space Fury marked Sega's entry into the genre. Other than all vector games before it, the machine could display multicolored vectors, giving the graphics an unseen new quality, which came at the cost of screens that were prone to catch fire during play. The acoustic presentation was equally state of the art: The opponent, a one-eyed alien with a huge brain, will taunt challengers at the beginning of the game and in between stages, with quotes like "So, a creature for my amusement. Prepare for battle!"

You'd never fight the creature itself, however, but only its fleet, which attacked in organized waves: Four enemy ship fragments always try to merge together and then attack the player with their cannons. If one or more of them are killed beforehand, the incomplete cluster is unable to fire, but starts a kamikaze assault to ram the player's ship. The scoring system for the different parts is somewhat elaborate, encouraging to take out the clusters in a specific manner.

Space Fury was also one of the first shooters to feature extra weapons: After each of the first three waves, the player gets the chance to dock onto one of three attachments: A triple laser, one that fires weak shots in the four cardinal directions, and a rear cannon. The order to pick them is important too, as the last one is kept during the ever-repeating last stage, where all the different enemy ships attack at once.

The only contemporary console Space Fury was ported to was the Colecovision, which of course lacks the speech samples and looks not nearly as impressive than the arcade counterpart. Much later, the game was also included as an unlockable in the Sega Genesis Collection, but only on PSP.

Space Fury (Arcade)


Space Fury (Arcade)

Space Fury (Colecovision))


Solar Quest - Arcade, Vectrex (1981)

Arcade Flyer

Vectrex Cover

Cinematronix' Solar Quest places players on an overlay starfield background to hunt for enemy ships. There are different enemy models, but they all just fly straight across the screen, making the game seem like a more hectic version of Asteroids at first. There is a star in the middle like in Spacewar!, although it doesn't have any gravitational impact on the player ship. But it does on the small rescue capsules shot-down enemies leave, and collecting them before they get sucked in by the sun awards the most bonus points.

In addition to the ordinary photon gone, one also gets to shoot nukes, which detonate after a certain range. They don't save Solar Quest from being one of the least interesting Cinematronix games, though. Nonetheless the game has also been ported to the Vectrex, featuring a much simpler screen overlay.

Solar Quest (Arcade)

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Designer:

  • Scott Boden

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Solar Quest (Vectrex))


Eliminator - Arcade, PSP (1981)

Arcade Flyer

Four Players Cocktail Flyer 1

Four Players Cocktail Flyer 2

Sega-Gremlin's second game in the genre was heavily inspired by the Death Star destruction scene in Star Wars. The task in each stage for one or two players is to line up a shot through a tunnel straight into the center of large moving structure. Drones will hinder the player, although they don't cause or take any direct damage, instead shots make players and foes bounce off out of control, resulting in death only when colliding with the round structure. When the player takes too much time, an attack ship will be built inside the core, which then proceeds to go straight for the kill.

The vector graphics are even more colorful than in Space Fury, but there are no cheesy voice samples this time. Apparently, Eliminator was considered too difficult, so later revisions would make the objects bigger and the drones would just fire randomly in any direction instead of actively hindering the player. These changes also took over to the later 4-player version of the game. Oddly, for this version exists analternate flyer with the exact same motif and angle, but different people around the table and the Sega logo bigger than the Gremlin one. Like Space Fury, Eliminator was emulated in the PSP version Sega Genesis Collection.

Eliminator (early version)

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  • Larry Claque
    Mike Hendricks

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Eliminator (later version))


Space Fortress - Arcade (1981)

UK Arcade Flyer

Italian Arcade Flyer

Hailing from the United Kingdom, Century Electronics took a highly unusual approach for the genre: It used a raster display and pixel graphics instead of vectors. That allowed the game to use a whopping six colors, but also made the graphics look very blocky next to the game's sharp-lined competitors.

The gameplay is more complex than usual at the time, as well. Space Fortress is divided into three phases: The first involves combat with enemy forces in open space. There's no sun, but occasionally a special enemy appears that tries to capture players with a strong gravitational field. After losing this first scenario, one gets to defend the titular Space Fortress against the attackers. Other than the fortress in the middle, the game doesn't change that much, although enemies get more aggressive. When failing again, players finally find themselves defending the core only, where the game switches to a Space Invaders like mode. After that one, it's game over.

Despite the blocky pixel graphics, Space Fortress' presentation was top notch. The starfield is animated, implying a constant upwards movement, although this has no impact on the gameplay. The machine also likes to talk a lot, although the voice samples are barely intelligible.

1981 also saw the release of a game with the same title for the obscure Bally Astrocade, but it is a completely different game and has not much in common with the arcade Space Fortress aside from the theme.

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  • Century Electronics

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  • Century Electronics

Genre:

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Space Fortress

Space Fortress)


Moon War - Arcade (1981)

Arcade Flyer

Flyer Backside

Another raster-based game, Stern Electronic's Moon War is the first to introduce actual scrolling to the genre. The player crosses the moon surface from left to right, always trying to get to the next fuel base before it is destroyed by enemy attacks, causing the ship' engine burns up fuel at an alarming rate. The refueling process, however, is a highly risky undertaking, as the player has to sit tight on the station, always endangered by enemy fire. It's possible to activate a force shield temporarily, but its energy depletes even faster than the fuel.

The game will forever be remembered more by its advertisement than anything else, though. "The Ultimate Moon Shot" is a pretty saucy shot for 1981.

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Moon War)


Space Duel - Arcade, Atari Flashback 2, Browser, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, XBox, PC, N-Gage, Nintendo DS (1982)

Arcade Flyer

With Space Duel, Atari joined Sega-Gremlin in the world of colored vectors. The machine was developed by Rick Maurer and Orbit programmer Owen Rubin. Its "normal" play mode isn't much more than a fancy rehash of Asteroids, but it is the alternative settings that make the game quite unique. Here two players are tied together with a string and have to coordinate their thrusts and shots to survive. This mode can also be played alone, then the player controls one ship and just flings around the other, but has to be care of its inertia, as well.

Space Duel (Arcade)

Space Duel might be not as famous as Asteroids, Battlezone or Pong, but it's still one of the representative Atari games that appear on most classic compilations. It was included in Emulated form in the Atari Classics Collection on PS2, Xbox and PC, as well as the PSX version Atari Anniversary Edition, Atari Masterpieces Vol. II on N-Gage and Atari's Greatest Hits: Volume 1 on NDS. Although there haven't been any contemporary home ports, it was one of the exclusives on the second Atari Flashback console with pre-installed 2600 and 7800 games. Possibly based on an old prototype, Space Duel comes in 2600 format, but the tied-together modes of the arcade original are gone, leaving behind nothing but a boring old Asteroids clone. It isn't that impressive technologically, either, and suffers from the same flickering as Asteroids on the 2600.

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  • Rick Maurer

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Space Duel (Arcade)

Space Duel (Arcade)

Space Duel (Atari Flashback 2)


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Spacewar!
Galaxy Game
Computer Space
Space Wars

Page 2:
Orbit
Asteroids
Rip Off
Star Castle

Page 3:
Omega Race
Space Fury
Solar Quest
Eliminator
Space Fortress
Moon War
Space Duel

Page 4:
Zektor
Gravitar
Dark Planet
Mine Storm
Star Trek
Cosmic Chasm
Star Maze

Page 5:
Cerberus
Blasteroids
Afteroids
Ebonstar
Stardust
Super Stardust
Asteroids (1998)

Page 6:
Star Control series
Starflight
Star Trek TNG
Big Sky Trooper

Page 7:
Fire Fight
Subspace/Continuum
Armada
Battlestar Galactica
Shred Nebula

Page 8:
What's up, Japan?
Gravity Games
Homebrew

Back to the Index