vadorz: A brief interlude to save the Earth

My enthusiasm for small console games was rekindled with ttysolitaire, so I poked around and found vadorz this morning.


In classic Space Invaders style, your ship is at the bottom of the screen, and endless waves of enemy ships oscillate as they creep down from the top. Your sole purpose in life becomes kill-or-be-killed. Such drama! 😯

vadorz is a pretty good game; it has all the requisite parts — it’s speedy, it’s responsive and it’s straightforward. Keys are the obvious arrows plus a MegaKill key that wipes the screen of enemies. Plus “q” to quit and “p” to pause.

I particularly like the choice of ASCII artwork. The ships and missiles look appropriate for the shapes they should represent. I also like that you can edit the code and change the size or shape of the ships or projectiles, as you like. Oh, and the MegaKill key has a nice visual effect too.

A few misgivings though:

  • I get a terrific flicker effect whether I’m playing in an emulator or at a virtual console. I don’t know if vadorz is clearing the screen after every “frame,” or if that’s a side effect of working on a (slightly) slower machine. Either way, I worry I’ll develop photo-sensitivity epilepsy, with all that flashing. πŸ™„ 😦
  • You have five “lives” at the start, but there’s no real consequence to being struck by a missile. You ship doesn’t explode, there’s no pause to restart the level. The ticker just drops by one, and the game continues. Reach zero and the Earth is destroyed. That also means that you might glance down at the left corner and realize you’ve been hit twice or three times already, and you’re wondering when that happened.
  • Your ship can maneuver anywhere on the screen, including over the score display. Not complaining about that, but it means you can fly above the rows of alien bombers, and safely wait out the assault. I’m not sure why you would do that, since allowing the aliens to reach the bottom ends the game, but I suppose it should be noted.
  • From round-to-round, the score is always the same. There doesn’t seem to be any variation in the value of ships, either in their design or in their distance from you when they’re hit. So reaching the end of a round means you’ve killed the preset number of ships, and gotten the same score as every other round.
  • It’s possible for the MegaKill to miss a bomber. Maybe that was intentional.
  • No color. 😦
  • Finally, the best strategy seems to be to press your ship up against the wall of the terminal, and simply hold the space bar down. If your CPU speed allows it, you’ll expel a wall of missiles in a straight line from the bottom to the top. The shape of the alien bombers makes it very unlikely that they’ll drop a bomb within those last three columns (they are as wide as you are, but will probably touch your “wall of missiles” first) so it’s a fairly safe strategy. The only danger is getting to that wall at later levels.

I will stop there, just because I don’t want to color your opinon of vadorz too much, or try to hold it out against things like ninvaders or ascii-invaders. With a little work and some fine-tuning, vadors could be better than either of those, and maybe start to punch above its weight, with things like yetris or ttysolitaire.


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