Vectrex Games - Six of the Best

Written by Graham W Wöbcke

As Vectex was my first home vector games system, I spent quite a bit of time playing with this unit. My home owned 9 out of the 28 titles officially released and there were a few titles I would have loved to have played at the time but they were difficult to get, particularly Fortress of Narzod, Web Wars, Star Hawk and Pole Position - and I didn't get the opportunity to experience those until emulation came along. With that said, I will restrict my top 6 games to ones that we owned at the time on the system, and I will add all others under the other great games area.

My Top Six Vectrex Games

1 Minestorm

The Vectrex unit had a built-in game named Minestorm which is essentially an Asteroids clone game with mines are geometrically shaped. The mines move off the screen and reappear on the opposite side as if the screen was a continuous playfield - something also present in Asteroids. There is also a Hyperspace type function (Escape) which can assist you in avoiding a collision by jumping you anywhere on the screen, but sometimes right on top of a mine. There is a Thrust button which propels your craft forward while you press the button and it ceases thrust when you release the button - meaning there is no brakes and too much thrust often means your have a collision path straight into a mine. Overall it is a fairly good built-in game and one that gets quite difficult from Level 7 onwards. There is also a programming bug in the game if you manage to get to Level 14!

2 Cosmic Chasm

You need to control a special craft that has a laser, a drill and a defense shield inside a space station. You need to follow the map and choose a path from one room to the next to progress towards the central chasm of the station. In each room you must destroy the enemy while avoiding the core of the room that throbs and expands. Once you have destroyed all of the enemy ships in that room you will need to choose an exit and carefully drill through a force shield to continue on. Once you reach the central chasm containing the space stations power source, you must plant a bomb to destroy it and escape quickly, by retracing your path back to where you started and escape the explosion. You then progress into harder levels each time you complete a level. I had a lot of fun with this game.

3 Solar Quest

Solar Quest is a game based on the Asteroids genre, where you control a space ship and you must shoot as many alien ships as possible. The twist to this game is you get bonus points rescuing any survivors before they are pulled into the sun in the centre of the screen by it's gravity. You can spin your ship in a circle as well as using thrust and hyperspace exactly like in Asteroids. There is the addition of a Nuke, where you have the opportunity to destroy everything on screen in it's path - which at times is handy. There are various types of enemy ships to destroy and some do not fly in a standard flight pattern which is also another difference to Asteroids.

4 Armor Attack

Armor Attack is a birds eye view game in a town in the midst of war where you control a jeep doing the best you can to defend what is left of the city. Your jeep must stop tanks and helicopters that fly overhead. The chopper can enter and exit the screen at any point, and this keeps you guessing. If you are cornered, you can try to use the buildings to assist your cover and with both the tanks and helicopter firing at your jeep, you must evade their fire to survive and then destroy them to progress to the next level. Tanks require 2 direct hits to destroy them, as the first hit will only immobilise them but they can still shoot at you.

5 Hyperchase

Hyperchase is an extremely quick time trial style racing game which is fun to play. Considering the processor speed of the Vectrex, this is brilliant programming and the way the scenery moves as you speed along is quite masterful. You control an F1 style racing car with 4 gears and you need to be able to control the car and effectively change the gears to do well at this game. You will need to avoid traffic with careful steering and as the perspective of the road changes, you must also adjust your centre of steering which adds to the challenge. Failure to do so will see you slam into the trees on the side of the road, hit the side walls inside the tunnel, take out a telephone pole or be cleaned up by another vehicle. The challenge of beating your previous time keeps you going back to try to better your current best time. Great fun.

6 Star Ship (Star Trek in the US)

This choice might be the most controversial as I have left off a few very well known titles like Web Warp (also know as Web Wars) and Fortress of Narzod. To me this game has a certain appeal that kept me returning for more. Maybe it was the cockpit view which reminded me of Elite, one of my favourite games. The aim of this game is to control the ship to clear levels by firing at enemies and using your shield sparingly which shows how much is available via a horizontal line at the bottom of the screen. You are also require to dock with your mothership (UFO) by lining up the yellow crosshair with the rotating square door and pressing your power link button. Be careful not to fire at your mothership or you will be in trouble. Each level ends with a challenging level boss that is both frustrating to defeat and rewarding when you have done so.

Other Great Vectrex Games

Here are some more games that I recommend for the Vectrex system:

Official Releases

  • Bedlam
  • Berzerk
  • Clean Sweep
  • Fortress of Narzod
  • Pole Position
  • Scramble
  • Space Wars
  • Star Hawk
  • Web Wars

Home Brew (Unofficial) Releases

  • Gravitrex (homebrew - 2002)
  • Protector (homebrew - 2004)
  • Thrust (homebew - 2005)
  • YASI (Yey Another Space Invaders) (homebrew - 2003)