Well, here it is, the first ever card game for the Vectrex (at the time of this writing). I don’t know if creator George Pelonis (of Fury Unlimited) came up with the ingenius idea of combining Solitaire with Blackjack, but the result was great. And since Solitaire is one of my all-time favorite games – right up there with Doom, probably (yeah, I know, go figure!) – then this one was obviously right up my (vector) alley.
Of course, like Solitaire, you’re the only player in this card game, and like Blackjack, you try to get certain cards to add up to a score of 21. Obviously the number cards are worth their face value: the two card is worth two points, the three is worth three points, and so on. All the "royalty" cards (or whatever they're called) are worth 10 points each (King, Queen, Jack), and aces are worth either one point or 11 (although the game adds up either one automatically, giving the player a bit of a break there).
The game starts off with dealing the player a card, which the player has one of four stacks to place it in. As more cards are drawn, there are more choices as to where the player can place the card, but getting them to add up to 21 can be tricky (which, like Solitaire, a lot of this game relies on luck). However, a stack doesn’t always have to add up to 21; having five cards in a deck that add up to less than 21 will also remove the deck from the screen, but so will a “bust” if you’re over 21 (and speaking of a “bust”, the game isn’t frustratingly enough for you to want to do that to your Vectrex, luckily).
There isn’t much going on in the way of animation, just the fading of screen messages (“bust”, “21!”, a five card “Fury”, etc.) and cards on the main deck flipping over. There’s not much to the graphics either, just enough of them for you to be able to tell which card is which (no design on the cards or anything), and there isn’t much sound either (although it’s perfectly adequate), which, if you have the original, unmodded Vectrex, that infamous buzzing REALLY stands out here at times. There’s also the ticking of the clock, as you have a limited amount of time to get through the deck. However, even if you suck at math like I do, once you play through the game several times, you start figuring out some strategies and it probably won’t be long before you never run out of time ever again (unless you’re just a really slow thinker...and suck at math).
About the only problem with this game is that the stacks aren’t numbered, with no indication which one is which on the screen. And since you only use buttons 1-4 on your controller for card stacks (the joystick isn’t used to move the cards or anything), chances are you’re going to screw up at some point and put the wrong card in the wrong stack when you could have placed it elsewhere without busting. And even though you don’t lose points per se with a bust (your score is displayed at the end of the game), you won’t gain any either. However, I think Pelonis corrected this oversight with the re-release of this for cellphones, as the screenshot for it on his site shows numbers for the piles.
After all, that’s the only version that’s available, since this one is now sold out, unless Pelonis decides to make an unlimited number for his games (which I saw a post on a site saying he might be considering this, since the ROM for only one of his four sold out games is available for Vectrex emulators at the time of this writing). And with seeing Vectrex owners complain before in a forum once about how the system had so many shooters, yet so little of anything else back when it was originally available, it just makes me wonder why it took two years for it’s piddling 121 copies to sell out, once Vectrex owners got something different for it indeed. But then, I guess no one wanted a card game for the Vectrex. For me, it’s addicting and fun as anything.
The cartridge rounds out with a demo of Star Fury 3D, but from what I understand (I don’t have a 3D Imager to try it out on, which is required) there isn’t much you can do anyway, just check out some of the graphics, and that's about it.
Just like those that let this one get by without buying it. :P 9/10