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Spacewar! Legacy

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Spacewar!
Galaxy Game
Computer Space
Space Wars

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Orbit
Asteroids
Rip Off
Star Castle

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Omega Race
Space Fury
Solar Quest
Eliminator
Space Fortress
Moon War
Space Duel

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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)

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Star Control series
Starflight
Star Trek TNG
Big Sky Trooper

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Fire Fight
Subspace/Continuum
Armada
Battlestar Galactica
Shred Nebula

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What's up, Japan?
Gravity Games
Homebrew

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Zektor - Arcade, PlayStation 2 (1982)

Arcade Flyer

Zektor is the sequel to Space Fury. Like that earlier machine, it features colored vectors, and a lot of synth speech for the alien overlords that mock the player. But here one is not a mere toy of the aliens, but you're actually out to liberate the cities they've occupied. But before that, there are three defense rings to overcome. The starfield scrolls downwards like in Space Fortress, but here the top is where all the obstacles are coming from. The player gets twisted around by whirls, bumped away by force fields and destroyed by large fireballs. But there are also intelligent, consecutively heavier shielded enemies. Only after surviving all three rings, one gets to fight the overlord itself. It's really hard to hit them because of their strong force fields, and after a short time they flee, taking whatever bonus points and extra lives they had hoarded with them. At the very last stage (which then is just repeated over and over again), there's even a "reunion" with the alien from Space Fury.

There are not many home versions of Zektor, but it is unlockable in the PS2 version of the Sega Genesis Collection.


Zektor

Zektor)


Gravitar - Arcade, Atari 2600, PlayStation, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, XBox, Windows, NDS (1982)

Arcade Flyer

Alternative Flyer

Alternative Flyer

Gravitar, as the name implies, is actually more of a gravity game than a direct heir to Spacewar! or Asteroids, but it mixes things up a bit by combining elements of both worlds. At the beginning, the player starts on a small star map, where the ship is steered around and enemies are fought Spacewar!-style. But as soon as one approaches one of the five "planets" on the map, the view zooms in to the surface, and the gravitation game part begins, where the objective is always to take out all anti air defenses. Most of the surfaces loop around, with the gravitational center always at the bottom. The most difficult world, however, is actually a vaguely circular structure, with gravitational force working towards the middle point. Another actually takes place in a labyrinth inside the planet.

Gravitar (Arcade)

Like most Atari games of the time, Gravitar has been ported to the VCS. The good old 2600 actually does a pretty good job at imitating the arcade experience, with all five stages intact and authentic gameplay. It can also be found on more Atari compilations than most games, including the Atari Anniversary Edition (Dreamcast, Redux version on the PlayStation) the Atari Anthology (PS2, Xbox, PC) as well as Retro Classics Arcade and Atari's Greatest Hits: Volume 1 (both Nintendo DS). The latter even features the Atari 2600 port alongside the emulated arcade original.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Designer:

  • Mike Hally

Genre:

Themes:


Gravitar (Arcade)




Dark Planet - Arcade (1982)

Arcade Flyer

Another game by Stern Electronics, Dark Planet shipped in a weird 3D cabinet, and thus action takes place on two planes. On the ground the enemy tries to build up bases and constructs fighters to counterattack. The player has a laser for air-defense, and bombs to take out the structures below. Sometimes a huge blue cloud will grow to cover most of the screen, destroying anything that flies into it. In the arcades, the 3D effect was used to enable the player to discern the two layers, but the ground (red) and air (blue) areas are also distinguishable by their color.


Mine Storm - Vectrex (1982)

Mine Storm

Mine Storm

If it was for its merits as a game only, Minestorm would have been omitted from this article as a mere Asteroids clone. What makes it special, though, is the fact that it was the built-in game for the Vectrex, making it the first home vector game people were likely to play in 1982/83. The initial version was actually bugged and would crash after the 13th and final stage (before the game would loop to the first stage), but it was possible to get a fixed replacement on a cartridge, which is usually referred to as Minestorm/II, although the cart just reads Minestorm. When the "3D Imager" glasses were released, there was yet another version of the game to support those.

It's not a complete rip off of Asteroids, though. Mine Storm adds three additional types of mines, aside from those that behave just like the eponymous asteroids in Atari's hit. Later stages include mines that fire a bullet straight at the player, magnetic mines that hunt the ship, and finally mines that combine both of these.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • GCE

Publisher:

  • GCE

Genre:

Themes:


A Vectrex running Minestorm (photo: blakespot))


Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator - Arcade, Atari VCS, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, Apple II, Colecovision, TI-99/4A, Commodore VIC-20, Commodore C64 (1982)

Arcade Flyer

Atari 5200 Cover

Sega-Gremlins's final game in the genre could rely on one of the strongest licenses in sci-fi. Boastfully introducing the 3D models of the Klingon Birds of Prey, space stations and the Enterprise, Star Trek tricked players into thinking it was a 3D game. However, one could play the game just as well by only looking at the overhead radar screen, just like any other game in the genre. Although nothing but a flashy display of graphics, it is actually more fun to go by the 3D window.

Other than its graphics, Star Trek didn't make any big innovations with its gameplay: Just destroy all Klingon ships to advance to the next stage, and bonus points are awarded for saving the space stations, which are also used to recharge fuel and ammunition. Later, hazards like mines had to be avoided, too.

Most certainly because of licensing issues Star Trek has never been on any of the Sega compilations. But back when it was released, Sega exploited the game all they could. Some of the home versions look vastly different from each other, but gameplay remains more or less the same, aside from varying difficulty settings and stage compositions. Besides the many ports that were released, Sega had also announced a version for the Mattel Intellivision, which was eventually cancelled. For the Tandy Color Computer, Spectral Associates put out a rip-off called Space Wrek. There also was a Star Trek game on the Vectrex, but that was a different product by GCE, and actually more of a real 3D game than Sega's interpretation, despite more primitive gameplay.

Quick Info:

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Publisher:

Designer:

  • Sam Palahnuk

Genre:

Themes:


Star Trek (Arcade)

Star Trek (Arcade)


Comparison Screenshots


Cosmic Chasm - Vectrex (1982), Arcade (1983)

Arcade Flyer

Vectrex Cover

Cosmic Chasm takes the space war home to the aliens—and sends players into the lion's den, to take out the core of the enemy base. In each of the interconnected rooms an armada of hostile geometrical shapes attacks, but it is possible to avoid them and just shoot open the next door and escape. This part of the game is not very exciting. Since the ship is particularly hard to maneuver, with slow acceleration and very high inertia, most of the time it's safest to just sit in position and fire at the incoming attackers, because they never shoot back and only try to ram the intruder.

Only after taking out the rainbow-colored core the game shifts gears, as the base starts disintegrating and one has to escape quickly, therefore it's recommended to create a safe escape route. Then it goes on to the next base, which unfortunately has the exact same structure every time, with only the enemies getting more aggressive, so it soon starts to feel very repetitive.

Cosmic Chasm is another Arcade/Vectrex game, although this time the Vectrex version actually has the earlier copyright (1982 instead of 1983), so it might actually be the original. Naturally, the graphics are all black and white (save for the overlay), but the space station also looks very different (though each stage is still the same). The ship can't shoot open doors anymore, but is instead equipped with a drill, with which one has to approach the doors really slowly. Furthermore, the station map is only displayed when transporting in between rooms, making exploration only a little bit more fun.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Programmer:

  • William Hawkins (Vectrex)

Genre:

Themes:


Cosmic Chasm (Vectrex)



Star Maze - Apple II (1982)

Advertisement

In the early 1980s, Sir-Tech was known as one of the RPG companies, but at the time they didn't actually produce games internally and was instead contracting independent developers. Star Maze was the work of Gordon Eastman, and a first attempt to bring the Spacewar! genre to home computers. Home computer programmers prided themselves for the complexity of their games, and so Star Maze turned the concept into an explorational adventure. The player's task is to find and collect a number of sparkling jewels in the maze. The ship can only transport one jewel at a time, so they have to be brought to the base one by one. Of course the inhabitants of the maze will have nothing of it and do their best to thwart the mining plans.

Star Maze

What's also typical for home computers of that time are the unresponsive controls, which made them not exactly the first choice for action games. Once the ship has accelerated towards one direction, it's very hard to stop it again, as thrust is maintained until one has spent enough energy to change directions. The ship bounces off of the maze walls, though, so using those is usually more effective, but also somewhat uncontrollable, as eventually one has to slow down somehow. The OSD shows the ship's current speed as an orientation, but it doesn't help much.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Designer:

  • Gordon Eastman

Genre:

Themes:


Star Maze

Star Maze


<<< 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