REVIEWS COURTESY OF ZXSR

Vectorball
by Binary Design Ltd: Andrew Miah, Lyndon Brooke
Mastertronic Added Dimension
1988
Crash Issue 56, September 1988   (1988-08-25)   page(s) 94,95

Vectorball is the most popular sport in a distant dimension. The game is played by two fast-moving droids on a rectangular pitch. The playing area is rather unusual as it contains bumps and ditches to make play more tricky. The action is shown in isometric 3-D with the contours of the pitch indicated by the change in perspective of a grid pattern.

You can choose to take on either a computer (like our editor) or a human opponent (like Mark). (I thought you said 'human'? ED.) Your droid moves around the pitch, trying to gain possession of the ball. If he manages to shoot the ball into the goal area, he scores. Games can be played over three, five or seven minutes, and the first player to win four games is also the winner of the tournament.

Have you ever tried playing football in a skateboard park? Well, if you haven't, Vectorball is the perfect opportunity to try it out. In fact, the most varied aspect of this repetitive game is the choice of pitch; you can choose to have it made up totally of hills, ditches or waves and, for the more adventurous, there's even a mega-mix of the lot. The isometric graphics aren't exactly very colourful but the 'stretchy' look of the pitch makes it unique. Controlling your robot is difficult at first and you need to master a very tricky hill-climbing technique (which does get easier) before you can really progress. Vectorball provides a spot of fun a while but I doubt its lasting appeal.

NICK ... 52%

THE ESSENTIALS
JOYSTICKS: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair, Fuller
SOUND: limited to white noise spot effects
OPTIONS: on or two players. Choice of pitch and time limit


'After admiring the great 3-D pitch effect, I thought that playing Vectorball would be a fun experience. Unfortunately, getting into the game is very difficult, mainly because of the awkward control system. Your droid is extremely sensitive to the slightest move and speeds off into the distance unless restrained. Not only that - when you're in possession, control becomes rotational so you can't move forward at all. This makes for some very dull matches because once a droid has the ball, all it can do is whack it up the pitch in the hope of scoring. The computer player is almost invincible and manages to thrash me every time. Though the two-player option should improve lastability, the frustrating one-player game soon loses its appeal.'
PHIL … 64%

Graphics63%
Playability57%
Addictive Qualities55%
Overall58%
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 34, October 1988   page(s) 95

This is a 'futuristic sports simulation' in the same vein as Xeno. It's one to one (either a computer or another human opponent) as you each take turns trying to knock the ball into your adversary's goal. What makes this game different is the pitch: it's contoured. That is to say it's got little hills, troughs and waves on it. These can help or hinder you, depending on your position, as all the physics of momentum, friction and gravity have been programmed in. The graphics are great, and the animation is good.

this could have been a totally brilliant game, but for one thing - it all seems a bit sluggish, and the ball doesn't travel for enough when hit. The blurb says you can muck around with the friction levels and things, but you couldn't on my copy. If Vectorball had the playability of Xeno it would be fab. As it is, eer, sort of alrightish.


Overall7/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 78, September 1988   page(s) 32

There's a definite danger of becoming horribly complacent in this zany old pot pourri of visual experience that is games reviewing (Wah? - GT). There are times when you feel rather blase about gameplay and graphics. So it's probably just as well that every so often a game like Vectorball pops up behind you and delivers a swift kick to the thought-process.

We've had the wire frame graphics before, and we've had the rolling-ball business, but I can't remember seeing them combined like this. Vectorball has elements of both Marble Madness and Match Day II.

Confused? You should be. Let Uncle Jim explain. Vectorball is some kind of futuristic sport in which the opponents (yourself against either a friend or the computer) try to propel a ball into the other player's goal. Easy so far. Well, the tricky bit is yet to come. Not only are the players virtually impossible to control with any degree of accuracy, but you play on a horribly difficult landscape. There are huge hills and dips and ridges which affect the path of the ball and the players.

From the menu screen you decide which sort of landscape you want to try; ditches and hills, ridges, valleys or an horrific concoction of the lot.

You guide your character in two ways; by directional use of the joystick to simply cover ground; and by rotating both clockwise and anticlockwise and kicking the ball when you are 'in possession'. You determine the strength of the shot by the length of time you hold down the Fire button. As a visual indication, the head of player gets higher and higher the harder you're going to hit the ball. The problem with this mode of control is that as soon as you've got the ball, you can't move anywhere - it works like netball. So, the best strategy is to wait until the ball is in the vicinity of the opponent's goal before taking possession.

Now, controlling the players is difficult enough, playing against the computer is a completely lost cause - but when you're faced with the added difficulties of a wildly undulating pitch, it all becomes a little too difficult to bear. It's also possible to run off the screen, so you don't have the foggiest idea which way you're facing, heading or kicking.

Vectorball is littered with stacks of really nice touches, graphically it's got the feel of something very classy, with the score being projected on to an imaginary scoreboard at the side of the playfield. But really, I don't know whether it's just me, I just found it too difficult.

Whilst there is a huge degree of satisfaction to be had by finally mastering the control of the robot-player, you seem to spend so long watching the computer score goal after goal, you tend to get a little bit demoralised. Still, it's got the highest novelty value - if you can have such a thing - of anything I've seen in a while.

Label: Mastertronic
Author: Binary Design
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas


Graphics 70%
Sound N/A
Playability 70%
Lastability 80%
Overall 75%
Summary: Original, inventive and slickly programmed but hard to play.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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