All Good Things


Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 8

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

It’s difficult for a retro-loving gamer such as myself to objectively review a brand new game created for a long-dead system. Part of me wants to remain objective, pointing out the positives and negatives and offering my opinion based solely on the material at hand. The other part of me is cheering out loud that the previously finite number of games for one of my favorite systems has just been upped by one. Criticize the results of a game born from the love of gaming? How often does this happen with a Playstation game? Now that you know how I feel about this subject, allow me to review John Dondzila’s All Good Things, his third game created for the Vectrex in the last two years.

With the sluggish Vector Vaders and the magnificent Patriots under his belt, Dondzila sticks with the “cloning” of popular titles, but in grand fashion. All Good Things represents three more popular software staples: Rockaroids aka Asteroids, Vectris aka Tetris, and Spike’s Water Balloons aka Kaboom!. Rounding out the trilogy is a fourth title, More Vector Vaders, which corrects the aforementioned sluggishness of the original and throws in a few goodies. To say that Dondzila has outdone himself is a mild understatement. Rockaroids or SWB would have been worth the $19.95 price of admission. You can’t afford NOT to own this compilation!

Vectrex owners had the privilege of several Asteroids wannabe’s, with Mine Storm being the best of the lot. And still, I think most of us felt a need to have the real thing - or at least a reasonable facsimile - to realize what made the Vectrex system a possibility back in the 80’s. Did arcade games like Starhawk or Bedlam make gamers want to own a vector-based home system? Of course not. But find an Asteroids player who didn’t feel somewhat out of his element when playing the game on an Atari 2600! Soon after you’ll understand why the Vectrex concept worked... at least for a little while. Asteroids was never properly simulated in the 80’s. If we had Rockaroids in 1984, I’m sure the gaming world would have rejoiced. Too late to save the system, but the result is the same: this is an incredibly close translation of the Atari coin-op. Complete with multiple sized asteroids, two different saucers, and most of the same strategies, you’ll get hooked on this game like no other version before it.

Fortunately, the fun doesn’t end there. My “second favorite” on this compilation is the updated More Vector Vaders, which looks and plays completely different from Dondzila’s first game. No more slowdown! Saucers that fire back! Aliens split into two smaller ones! Again, this is a faithful reproduction of a classic. There are a few nice touches as well. When you get shot, your base explodes and a tiny stick figure goes flying out. Hit a saucer and it spins and fades away. There are even hidden bonuses, but I haven’t figured out how to get them yet. Another fantastic job.

I was never very good at Activision’s Kaboom!, and most people will compare Spike’s Water Balloons to it. Actually, SWB plays a bit more like a lesser-known Namco game called Kick (man). Spike (a character taken from an original Vectrex game) moves left and right at the bottom of the screen while the bad guy, who has once again kidnapped Molly, drops deadly water balloons down from above. It’s up to Spike to break the balloons on his head. If he can’t quite get to them, he may be able to “kick” the balloon back up to the top of the screen. Clear X number of balloons and it’s off to the next wave. Things get faster, and that’s that. While SWB plays very well, only fans of the genre will really get excited about it. It’s fun, but not in the same league as Rockaroids or MVV.

The final documented game (more on this in a moment) is Vectris, which really doesn’t need to be here. Dondzila mentions in the liner notes packed with the game that there was a demand for a Tetris game on the Vectrex. Agreed, but the flickery effect of having so many objects on the screen at once kills this game, if not your eyes first. Speed and accuracy to the original is dead-on, but I tried several brightness variations and my eyes were still bleeding after each game. When MY eyes bleed, there’s something wrong. My super power is that I can withstand long hours at close distances to a video screen without the slightest eye fatigue. Play at your own risk, mortal!

There is a hidden game that I have not found at the time of this writing. Dondzila alludes to a Pac-man imitation, but then also states that the game is nothing like Pac-man. When I know the details, I’ll direct you back here.

My hat’s off to John Dondzila (I’m wearing the big pointy bishop hat today, so that’s a really huge compliment) for his work on the Vectrex. With this game and Patriots, Vectrex owners have two of the finest cartridges ever produced on the system. I truly hope he continues his efforts. Games born from the love of games are so rare, and every bit of homage shows through this outstanding work. Let's hope this game's title isn't an omen telling us it must end...


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:15 PM