Having the afternoon off work is great. Having the afternoon off work to visit the Dentist isn’t. Having the afternoon off work to visit the Dentist and have two fillings, double injections, way too many tubes and sharp pointy things in ones mouth certainly is not great.
So, two hours later I’m home and hidden away so as not to scare our elderly neighbours with my flapping bottom lip that appears to be dangling around my kneecaps at the moment. My jaw doesn’t feel like it belongs to me anymore. In fact, there’s no feeling there at all – I’m not sure what he used but I can’t feel my ears either.
So…whilst I wait for various bits to return to normal and to calm myself down after scaring myself silly when I looked in the mirror, I thought I’d play a round or two on a vintage Commodore VIC-20 cartridge game called Videomania.
Tom Griner wrote many many great games on the humble VIC and then went on to write the awesome port of Robotron :2084 for the Commodore 64.
Playing Videomania, you can see where the inspiration came from as it’s has elements of Robotron, Berzerk and I guess Asteroids.
The object of the game is to survive…survive and shoot everything.
The single game field see your space hero trapped in an asteroid field full of alien meanies. Three types to be exact. First there’s the evil eyes that bounce around the screen in a predictable trajectory. Then there’s the spinning X shaped ‘walwokers’ that are less predictable and can be quite tricky to dodge or hit, and finally there’s the ‘Killerbox’ who will hone in on you just like Otto from Berzerk.
Graphically, it might not look much but the sprites are well drawn, smoothly animated and enhanced by the dark backdrop which makes everything look very colourful as they bounce around the screen.
The first few levels start off pretty easy with only a handful of aliens to deal with but from level six onwards that screen fills up pretty quickly and shooting and dodging becomes even more intense.
On level nine, there’s so many of them that dodging around them give you plenty of ‘bullet hell’ moments. This is a proper twitch gamers game and thanks to perfect pin-point sprite collision it’s a joy to play. With so much stuff on screen, you do get a little slow down, but I think those slow-mo moments somehow make for a better game.
All of the screenshots added to this post are taken using the VIC20 VICE emulator but I couldn’t get to a high enough level using my PC keyboard controls to take a screenshot. Hopefully this rather blurred photo of the cart running on my VIC will show the later level carnage.
Videomania is a fine example of a no nonsense, fun little game that begs for one more go over and over again and my only criticism would be is that there only nine levels before it loops again. If you’ve got the means to play this 4K cartridge on a real VIC-20 (especially if you’ve got a sensitive Atari 2600 joystick) it’s well worth seeking out but even under emulation it plays just as well.
Jaw doesn’t hurt so much now, joystick wrist does!
P.s – I still haven’t figured out what these little cut scene animations are all about! Man gets hit by truck…in space?…o…..k?