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Asteroid Cowboy

Acowboy

Developer Andreas Bitter
Publishers Hochschule Pforzheim University
Freeware
Release date 2018
Genre Action
Mode Single player only
Media ROM file
Cartridge

BackgroundEdit

Hochschule Pforzheim University (also known as Hochschule Pforzheim – Hochschule fuer Gestaltung, Technik und Wirtschaft) is one of the biggest public universities for applied science in Pforzheim, Germany. It evolved by the demand of specialists in the jewelry and science industries, then it grew into one of the most important applied university of sciences with research facilities, as well as becoming one of the most important educational institutions in Germany. Hochschule Pforzheim is one of only nine institutions in Germany which received the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation.

Professor Peer Johannsen started using educational robots for programming exercises, although by 2016, the robots had to undergo maintenance and would not be available. Upon Johannsen's father sending him his Vectrex from his parents’ home and with there still being practical uses for the assembly language to this day, he decided to incorporate the machine into his Advanced hardware-oriented C and Assembly Language Programming class, resulting in students creating their own games for the console.

ASTEROID COWBOY (aka Asteroid Cowboy) was the result of one student's final project for the 2018 course year.

StoryEdit

"We're in the year 2020. Earth was destroyed due to the foolishness of an orange skinned president.

"Mankind had to escape to foreign planets. You made it to a fertile planet near an asteroid belt. The first people there founded P-Town, and fortunately your old neighbor built a ranch where he offers you a place to live and work.

"You're responsible for protecting the ranch from asteroids coming too close. Unfortunately, all rocket launch control boards were used to build gaming consoles (yep, it's really boring up there...), so you had to think about other ways.

"You remember the cheap remote controlled laser lasso (without a CE marking!) you ordered from a foreign Asian country before leaving Earth, and your cowboy adventures begin."[1]

GameplayEdit

It is the player's job to clear all levels of asteroids.

Upon the start of a level, once the player starts moving their cursor, their lasso will trail behind them, although it will start shortening with the more the player moves. They must complete a circuit around an asteroid in order for it to disappear; linger too long without being able to complete a circle around an asteroid will result in the asteroid not being caught and removed from the level. Moving diagonally can also disrupt the lasso as well, along with an asteroid touching the lasso before its circuit is complete. The player can also cancel the lasso themselves by pressing button 4 on their controller.

Touching any asteroid is fatal and will result in the player losing a life; once all lives are exhausted then the game will end. (On game two, if an asteroid touches an incomplete circuit, that will also cost the player a life.) The difficulty level increases by large asteroids appearing at the start of a new level, which are more difficult to encircle and remove them from a level as opposed to small ones. More and more asteroids also appear during a level, along with them speeding up at times. There is also an invisible border encasing the screen that causes large asteroids to bounce back. However, after several levels, small asteroids can pass through them and wrap around to the other side of the screen.

Helping out the player, however, is the ability to earn a life after several levels are completed, along with, at times, their lasso becoming longer. The player's cursor also speeds up at times, although this is either detrimental or helpful depending on a player’s ability.

ScoringEdit

  • Small asteroid caught: 1 point
  • Medium: 3 points
  • Large: 7 points
  • If the player catches multiple asteroids at one time, the points will multiply by the number of asteroids caught.

ControlsEdit

  • Choose between games–any button
  • Start game–button 4
  • Start new game after a previous one–button 1

(in-game)Edit

  • Move cursor–joystick or D-pad
  • Cancel lasso–button 4
  • Pause game–button 1

TriviaEdit

  • Several changes were made to the game due to suggested posts on the Vector gaming forums during the course year, such as making the player briefly invincible upon a new life/level, along with bonuses being added if more than one asteroid was caught at a time. Power-ups were also abandoned, as they were originally stated in the game manual that the player's "boss" would grant them to the player occasionally, although these were just integrated into the game via extra lives and the extension of the player's lasso, rather than having to capture power-ups like an asteroid and then using them by pressing button 4 on the controller to activate them.
  • Fellow Vectrex game Star Sling was incorrectly surmised as to being like a clone of the vector arcade cousin Quantum, where players encircled onscreen objects in order to remove them from levels. With Star Sling, however, players had to rope two asteroids of the same type together in order to remove them from the screen, making it not really like Quantum at all. Asteroid Cowboy is a bit like Quantum, although with several differences, as not as many objects would fill the screen on Quantum, the player’s weapon would not lengthen or shorten as much, and objects would not speed up as much, among other differences in gameplay.
  • Students of the Advanced hardware-oriented C and Assembly Language Programming class could just make a game and instructions, along with creating an overlay (for Vectrex emulators) as a bonus if they wished. Both of these were created for Asteroid Cowboy, with the instructions resembling the ones back in the day when the Vectrex was originally released, along with including concept art.
  • A few months after the course was finished and the game was released, Vector War VIII started up, which, along with fellow student-made game FLOOR IS LAVA, was chosen for the contest. Both games received accolades and a bug fix was implemented by homebrewer Malban in order to lessen the chances of the game crashing, which happened somewhat frequently during the later levels. Malban also created a few physical copies of each game, sending them to the students, along with them being prizes for the contest, resulting in very few physical copies of the game existing as of the end of 2018.
  • The "Orange skinned president" in the game’s instructions is in regards to the president of the United States at the time of the game’s release, which was Donald Trump, where many people described the result of his skin color due to tanning bed usage as to being “orange”.
  • The title screen music was taken from the piece that FURY uses for his games.

LinksEdit

Official page/download game

ReferencesEdit

  1. From the game manual.
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