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Vecmania Review

by Rob Mitchell

I just received my Vecmania cart in the mail today (Thursday 09-DEC-99) ... many thanks to John Dondzila for an amazing creation!

Although I've been playing the games on the emulator for a week now, it sure is nice to see these new Vectrex games on a real Vectrex console! The cartridge comes professionally packaged in its own case with cover art and pics of each game on the back. The cart is made from a modified Intellivision cart and has a signed label by the master, John Dondzila himself, and a serial number. My numbered cart is #0008.

Also included are instructions printed on both sides of a sheet of paper. The first thing I did was make copies of this sheet to keep the original in nice condition ...

So the first thing I did was plug in my #0008 cart (sure wish I had "007") and was greeted to the title screen with upbeat music ... kinda reminds me of the music from Ballblazer ... then after a few seconds I saw my own name in lights scroll across the bottom of the screen! Hey cool!

New Games

First game I tried is Star Fire Spirits ... nice to see the title fade away "Star Wars like" ... then you are off to save the galaxy by shooting the wing fighter ships that are approaching and shooting at you! The game incorporates some very nice special effects and challenging! Your objective is to blast everything before you totally loose your shields. So you try to blast everything and avoid enemy fire!

The game has two different control modes. Normal is when you push up and the crosshairs move up, down means down. In this way I've had alot of fun playing the game with a trakball. In the Flight Simulation control mode, you push up to dive and pull back to climb. Thus you can play "Star Raiders" style!

Repulse is tough! Just when you have your ship lined up to make a shot at the gently revolving fortress, a repulse ship blasts you out of the way and spinning as you bounce off a wall . Then the mother ship comes out to kill you. As you shoot back you realize that your fire doesn't go very far if you keep firing ... the whole time you are trying not to get bounced into the fortress and blow up! Whew! But if you get it right and fire a missile down the center of the fortress, it blows up and fractures into four spinning pieces all over the place! Victory! But when you get to level six, the fortress revolves around the playfield a bit faster! For its sheer gameplay it really gets my pulse up!

Birds of Prey is a challenge of a shooter ... with birds going round and round! Nice shooter! After a few waves you will see the mother of the birds! Shoot it just right and you've mastered the birds!

Remix Games

Patriots Remix has a new speed response button to make your target move across the screen faster ... also the music and sound effects are better. Most noticable is that the explosions are now hexagon shaped whereas the prior version had octagon expliosins ... presumably to cut down on the flicker effect of so many vectors on the screen at once. This game still spectacular and very enjoyable especially with a digital trakball!

Rockaroids Remix: 3rd Rock is just perfect and a joy to play! The spinning rocks and the spaceships are proportional to the Vectrex screen. Sometimes when using an Autofire circuit, some extra rocks show up for some unexplained reason ... but that just adds to the cleanup fun!

Vector Vaders Remix shows how much John has learned about Vec programming as the code is optimized to elliminate the flicker of the previous two versions.

Demo Games:

Both Abyss Demo and Disc Duel Demo are well conceived and show off some
dazzling effects ... if only they were a little more real!

Different Controllers

So far I've played both Star Fire Spirits and Patriots with my trakball and the gameplay is fun! This is done by using Jay Tilton's Digital-> Analog circuit found here on Spike's Big Vectrex Page.

The best way that I have found to play Star Fire Spirits is using an Atari [2600/VCS] joystick again wired through Jay Tilton's circuit.

For many of the other games I have done some rewiring of my Atari stick for control. They also work with my "LRTF" (Left, Right, Thrust, Fire) controller. For more information see the "LRTF" article on Spike's Big Vectrex Page.


Vecmania is the best product to come out for the Vectrex in some time and a great deal for $20 including shipping! Many salutes to you John Dondzila! Now excuse me while I go tackle that Repulse game again ...

Rob Mitchell, Atlanta, GA



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