Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Vectrex Console And Cosmic Chasm

Hi everybody! Mr Glitch here with another classic game review! Today I'm going to talk about the Vectrex Arcade System and one of the first games released for it, Cosmic Chasm.

The Vectrex console

The Vectrex, released by General Computer Electronics in 1982, is quite unique among video game consoles: It's a non-portable all-in-one console which utilizes vector graphics instead of raster. If you've ever played the original arcade Asteroids, Tempest or Battlezone, you'll recognize the bright flickery outlines and angular shapes characteristic of all Vectrex games. It sports a 9" B&W CRT built into the console, and is about the size and shape as the original Macintosh computer. Since the Vectrex couldn't display color, each Vectrex game included a transparent plastic overlay that sits in front of the screen to give some illusion of color and detail. Most overlays provided some useful info, such as what each of the four controller buttons did, but for the most part they didn't add much to the game. The Vectrex was an early casualty of the Great Videogame Crash, so only 30-some-odd games were released between 1982 & 1984. However, great game consoles never die and today, home-brewers continue to crank out new games for it. The Vectrex console is fairly easy to track down on eBay, but expect to spend at least $100-$150 for one in good working order. 

Cosmic Chasm

In Cosmic Chasm, You play a pokey little space ship with a gigantic drillbit on its nose. Your goal is to blow up the evil alien's space station from the inside by planting a bomb next to the reactor at the center of the station. You begin in an outer room of the Cosmic Chasm, and you must fight your way past the guardian aliens and the Giant, Expanding Beach Ball of Death to an exit that leads in the direction you want to go. You use that drill on your nose to grind your way through the forcefield blocking the exit, and then proceed to the next room. Once you've fought your way to the reactor room shown at the center of the map, you drop your bomb, and then backtrack fast through the rooms you just cleared before that sucker blows! 

Cosmic Chasm is very reminiscent of old-school arcade titles like Reactor or Zektor and in fact, it was the first home console game to be re-released as an arcade game. Unfortunately, it suffers from sluggish controls and rather repetitive gameplay. That drill must be heavy as hell because your ship moves and turns like it's flying through wet cement. The enemies can be pretty tough to shoot in the higher level, but most of the game's challenge comes from overcoming the ship's slow-as-molasses movements and escaping before the timer runs out. All in all, Cosmic Chasm is a mildly fun and somewhat frustrating diversion worth adding to your collection after you've tracked down Clean Sweep and Scramble. It won't cost much either, even if you spring for a copy that includes the overlay.

Thanks for reading my review! Next week, we show remarkable devotion to our wayward pet frog in Blaster Master!

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