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Date Posted: 20:18:57 07/12/06 Wed
Author: Darryl B.
Subject: Protector/Y. A. S. I. (9/10)

What? Has it been so long that anyone's been on here (heh) that NO ONE'S put up a review for this awesome cartridge?! (Or maybe it's because everyone already knows how killer it is...yeah, that's probably it!)

Yep, you get two games on here, both very unbelievable for the Vectrex.

Of course, as probably everyone knows already, Y. A. S. I. stands for "Yet Another Space Invaders", although that's a load of bunk, since, for the first time ever (at the time this cartridge was released), somehow the graphics were mirrored to match the original raster display from the original Space Invaders coin-op so much it's uncanny. This game doesn't look like it's being played on the vector Vectrex, that's for sure!

It plays pretty much exactly like the original S. Invaders too: you shoot the aliens as they march from side to side, dropping down closer and closer (as well as bombs), you can hide or shoot through bunkers at them, and you try to hit the bonus spaceship that appears from time to time. It's good old fashioned S. Invaders, right down to the look of it, there's somehow no lag time at all (the first Vectrex homebrew ever of Vector Vaders ran slow until you killed off several of them), you get a pause button (lacking in a lot of homebrews), the controls, whether you use the joystick or buttons, work perfectly, you get an extra laser base every 2,500 points (rather than just one on the original) and there's several modes to unlock the better you get: moving bunkers, you can guide your missiles, cloaking invaders (i. e. invisible), and then combinations of those.

That's the good news; unfortunately, the bad news is that the spaceship's real hard to hit, as your shots will go through it at times. Due to the severe quality of these games, I don't see how this could have been overlooked, so I think it was purposely left in, which really sucks. It's also just Space Invaders, which I'm sick of; I'd rather play a game of Galaxian myself. But sometimes the game still draws me in. (And the neutral news is that the sounds are good--except for that ear-splitting alert when the ship appears; ow!!--but they sound nothing like the original. But so what?)

So, keeping that in mind, this game *should* get a 7 or an 8, since it expands on the Invaders formula with the unlockable modes, but I'm just rating it as is, which it gets a 6.

Now, Protector is the Vectrex version of Defender, having practically NO slowdown *at all*, and pretty much zero Vectrex flicker either. It's absolutely amazing. Landers take colonists, if they make it to the top of the screen, they turn into much faster-moving Mutants, Baiters will appear if you take too much time during a wave, shooting a Pod will turn into several Swarmers, and Bombers leave bombs behind as they move.

The game plays pretty much the same as the original, although the Baiters and Swarmers are a little easier to shoot (what the hey, they're bigger on the small Vectrex screen), but the Bombers move a little faster to make up for that. A lot of the planet's landscape is higher up than on the original's, so you'll find yourself shooting more colonists by accident, plus half the stuff on the Scanner looks alike (alas, a woe to a system with no color!), so a lot of the time you're not exactly sure what it is you're going to be up against until it's too late (is it a Bomber or a Swarmer? You tell ME which is worse!). You can't use Hyperspace until you're out of Smart Bombs that blow up everything onscreen (most people think you DON'T have Hyperspace, but that's not true), but since you have a chance of blowing up upon re-entry, most don't use it anyway. I don't think the graphics are that great, but it doesn't really matter, the controls are perfect again (like with Y. A. S. I.), and most of the sounds are pretty good, as Protector gets a 9 from myself (losing out on a point due to the difficulty level and the hard-to-determine-what's-next scanner, or else it would earn a perfect 10).

This cartridge earns a 9 total, even with Y. A. S. I. bringing it down a little. The high scores are also saved even after turning the Vectrex off (unless you erase them) and there's a bizarre credits screen that looks like a compact disc that rotates around and changes shape and all! Y. A. S. I. is also VecVoice compatible, but I don't know what the invaders say since I don't own one (yet). Still, this is a very, very must-have for Defender lovers from the early 80s (or anyone who became fans of it due to later console issues, like Williams' Arcade's Greatest Hits for the Genesis, SNES and Playstation), and plus with this cartridge being under $20 from Mark Shaker at www.vectrexcarts.com...well, what the hell are you still doing reading this for?! Get in contact with him already!

And be prepared to have a blast.

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