Clean Sweep
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4  |  Not Exactly A 'Clean Sweep'
Darryl B. , 11/30/2005 12:44:58 AM
You'd think that a Pac-Man game wouldn't be too horribly difficult to make for the Vectrex. So what went so horribly wrong?

I dunno, actually, but at least I'll go over the game...

Somewhat making more sense than eating yourself to death (yet without gaining a single ounce), while monsters chase you that will regurgitate themselves from your stomach after you eat them and re-appear to start the chase all over again (uh huh, riiiiight), this time around, you're in a bank, where a bunch of thieves have blown up the vault, and instead of dots, all the onscreen dashes are dollar bills you have to gather and re-deposit. Probably for the first time ever in video game history (so far), you play a vacuum (which means your job sucks, ha ha), which you must suck up all the money and deposit it back into the vault.

So far so good, right? An interesting spin on the often-copied Pac-Man theme (but, with companies trying to make a buck, what else could you expect with basically the same gameplay?), to say the least. The game's also a bit more challenging than Pac-Man, due to having to go to the vault several times during a level as your vacuum gets too full of money to suck up any more. The sound effects for when you do this --along with all the others during the game -- is pretty decent, and the controls and graphics aren't bad either, although it made me wonder why these so-called "thieves" look "exactly like the blaster from Tempest". (Hmmm, didn't I say just a few sentences before this game supposedly makes more sense than Pac-Man did?)

Of course, you've got the corner rooms that turns the tables on the thieves briefly, which allow you to suck them up, along with the moolah, just like when Pac-Man is able to gobble up the monsters. Here, thief thief thief...

The game gets more difficult with the time you're allowed to suck up the thieves diminishes the further you get into the game, and the less your vacuum will be able to hold, forcing repeated trips to the vault.

So, what screws up this game so badly? The programmer giving up: after several screens -- less than 10 -- the onscreen level counter turns into a sideways 8...the symbol for infinity. Once you make it to this screen, the thieves start moving in little patterns (usually in the corners by the special rooms), never chasing you from then on. Chances of you dying ever again are pretty slim, unless you're not paying attention.

What the hell? Why did this happen? SURELY the programmer didn't think anyone wouldn't be good enough to get through less than 10 screens (I think this nonsense starts on the eighth) before losing all their lives. I went through about five of these screens before giving up on the game altogether, as, yeah, it seemed like it was going to be the same b. s. for all eternity with the levels from that point on. Why, why, WHY?

Maybe I'll never know. And having a few skill levels and an invisible maze option don't really help this game, either.

One thing I DO know, though, is that I was able to trade this game, years later, for the Atari 2600 version of Mountain King. So needless to say, I made out like a bandit there, har har. I feel sorry for anyone who got taken for a ride and paid the full $30 or so for it when it first came out, though, to getting bored with it pretty quick, like I did.

And unless the guy I traded with wasn't good enough to get to the infinity level(s), he probably wasn't too happy, except for getting his first boxed Vectrex game ever. (Too bad for him it wasn't Fortress of Narzod, though.) 4/10

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