Games for the Vic-20. (evaluation) David Busch.
Cartridge games like these four for the Vic-20 from Commodore show why "low-end" $300 computers can compete successfully against games-only units like Mattel's Intellivision in the same price range.
The $29.95 ROM packs cost about the same as their video game counterparts, are not much more difficult to plug into the back of the machine, and offer resolution and action that is, for the most part, equal.
The ROM games make a lot of sense for both the manufacturer and the buyer. They load instantly when the computer is turned on, and are much less perishable than fragile tape, so the buyer does not need to make backups, and the manufacturer does not worry that these backups will appear in pirated versions all over the United States two weeks after the game hits the stands. Jupiter Lander
The object of Jupiter Lander is--Surprise!--to land a spaceship on the surface of a planet without crashing ignominiously into the craggy surface thereof. To add an element of originality, Commodore has chosen to portray the target planet as Jupiter, rather than the more traditional lunar surface.
The keyboard, rather than the joystick is used to control the lander. This was a wise choice, as three special function keys on the Vic are used to provide varying amounts of thrust. A feather-light touch is possible, and, given the requirements of the game, mandatory. Side thrusters to provide lateral movement are activated by pressing the A and D keys. The controls are simple to learn, and soon become automatic.
What makes the Jupiter Lander game challenging is the speed readout at the side of the screen, showing speed in meters per second. The "needle" indicator must be within a certain very narrow area, outlined in yellow, at the moment of landing for bonus points to be scored. The player can swoop in for a pinpoint landing, only to lose a scoring opportunity with a heavy hand during the last microsecond.
The Jovian surface is shown int two views, a long shot, and a closeup which is displayed as the ship nears the landing site. Three landing sites are provided. An easy plateau surface may be used for practice, although the new player will require several tries before he achieves his first successful landing. Each touch-down at the appropriate speed results in additional fuel and points being awarded.
The more difficult landing surfaces provide higher bonuses. The game keeps track of high scores, which are lost once the computer is turned off. Vic Avenger
Vic Avenger is Commodore's version of the popular Space Invaders game. It is very much like any of the dozens of other knock-offs of this arcade classic. It does make good use of the Vic-20 multi-color graphics to present a fast-moving game.
Control of the player's missile-firing base is through a standard Atari joystick, which may be plugged into a port built into the right side of the computer. Because there is only one port available for these controllers, Vic games are limited to single-player action at this time.
The player is given three bases to start and is awarded an extra base at 1500 points. The movement of the invaders is mercifully slow at the beginning, so that even a novice should have no trouble eliminating the first wave. As the speed increases, the game becomes more challenging. Those who have played hundreds of games of Space Invaders on many different computer systems will probably tire of this rather quickly. Die-hards will happily test their skills on yet another version.
Products: Commodore Avenger (video game)