Thursday, April 10, 2014

Star Castle and the Discovery of Vectrex

Back in the day, everyone had an arcade game that they played all the time, a game they could play for hours on just a quarter or two, a game that they had mastered, yet still enjoyed. For me, that game was Star Castle.

I first encountered the game, and conquered it at Malibu Grand Prix some time around 1980 or 81. I would play it dependably every time I was there. When I first went to college, there was a Star Castle machine in the lounge that I'm sure contributed to my low grades that first semester.

I loved it, and sadly, it was not a game I saw again that much in the years since. Star Castle was supposedly the basis for Atari's Yar's Revenge, though similar, and even though I loved that game too, it wasn't the same. I never saw it much because, as far as I knew, it was never available for a home video game system.

Just because I wasn't aware of it doesn't mean it didn't exist. Recently my friends Ray and Justin mentioned they had gotten a Vectrex app for their iPads that included Star Castle. Like I said, this was new to me, but back in the day there was this thing called a Vectrex. A box halfway between the size of a GameBoy and a full-sized arcade machine, so still kinda bulky, but it had a huge selection of games available like Berzerk, Pole Posistion, Mine Storm, and Star Castle.

I have been since able to find Star Castle online, but with keyboard controls, it's just not the same. Check it out here. Then I found Vectrex on my iPhone and my iPad. Granted, it's bigger, and therefore more fun on my iPad. And the touch controls make it easier to work, but for the real thing, I guess I'll just have to break down and buy a real Star Castle machine. I could always hustle folks for the money to pay back the machine…

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