Mine Storm


Developer John Hall (GCE)
Publisher GCE
Release date 1982
Genre Simulation
Multi-directional shooter
Modes Single player
1-2 players alternating
Media ROM file

Mine Storm is the built-in game that came with every Vectrex unit. It was also released in a 3-D version that required the use of the Vectrex 3D Imager and as a bug-free replacement cartridge called Mine Storm 2 (see Bugs section).

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

Gameplay is similar to the arcade game Asteroids. The player moves around the screen shooting at star-shaped Mines of various sizes and mannerisms. Each screen has many dots, which can potentially turn into Mines; once a Mine is shot, two dots on the screen will turn into medium-sized Mines, which will then turn into two small Mines when shot (note: for the most part; sometimes, perhaps due to a glitch, a medium-sized Mine will just hatch one small Mine). When all dots have been turned into Mines on a screen, the Minelayer will come out, laying additional Mines in it's wake until the player destroys it.

Making contact with any Mine, fireball, or Minelayer will destroy the player's ship and the game will end once there are no more reserve ships left (note: on some later versions, colliding with any piece of space dust or alien forces will also destroy the player's ship as well [see Trivia section]). Extra ships are earned after every four levels are cleared. The Escape function acts as Hyperspace, which moves the player's ship to a random area on the screen in case of emergency.

Controls[edit | edit source]

Main menu

  • Choose from one or two players--button one
  • Start game--button four


  • Move ship left and right--joystick or D-pad left and right
  • Escape--button two
  • Thrust--button three
  • Fire rockets--button four

Scoring[edit | edit source]

(large, medium, small/points)

  • Floating Mine--100 135 200
  • Fireball Mine--325 360 425
  • Magnetic Mine--500 535 600
  • Magnetic-Fireball Mine--750 585 850
  • Fireball--110
  • Minelayer--1000
  • Space dust/alien forces--varies (note: on later U. S. versions only)

Mine types[edit | edit source]

  • Floating Mines--regular "dumb" Mines that just drift around
  • Fireball Mines--these will launch a fireball when shot, usually right at the player's ship
  • Magnetic Mines--follows the player around
  • Magnetic-Fireball Mines--combination of the behavior of Fireball and Magnetic Mines
  • Space dust--looks like dots, acts like Floating Mines (on certain later versions)
  • Alien forces--combination of Space dust and Magnetic-Fireball Mines (on certain later versions)
  • Invisible Mines--same as Floating Mines, but invisible (on certain later versions)
  • Invisible Magnetic Mines--combination of Invisible and Magnetic Mines (on certain later versions)

Bugs[edit | edit source]

  • There are at least three versions of the game; the original U. S. release contains the infamous level 13 bug, where the game would crash and end if a player is able to clear out this level. An extra printed sheet was added to the instructions of a later version advising players to press the reset button if their Vectrex screen went blank after clearing this level. Also, a Mine Storm 2 cartridge was made available for free upon request for Vectrex owners who wrote to GCE, which was bug-free, although it had many additional Mine Fields added and changes in the order of the Mines that appear (the Magnetic Mines make their debut during the second level, unlike the third on the second version of the game). This is one of the most rare and sought after Vectrex cartridges nowadays.
  • In addition to the above glitch, another later version allows a player to make it past level 13, although the game behaves strangely, as there is a brief cinematic bit at the end of every level where the player's ship is sucked up from whatever area of the screen it is at to the middle while stars seemingly project from it (perhaps it is hitting warp to jump to the next level). If the player stays as close to the center as possible at the end of every level after 13, they will continue to advance; however, there are many times when a level skips several numbers for some reason. Also, if the player presses Escape or Thrust after they shoot the last Mine or piece of space dust, that could cause the game to end and take the player to the menu screen.

Trivia/notes[edit | edit source]

  • Mine Storm is commonly mistaken as to being spelled as "Minestorm". It is clear by looking at the instruction booklet that came with a Vectrex unit or by starting the game either on a Vectrex or an emulator that "Mine Storm" is two words when the title screen comes up.
  • Due to it being the Vectrex's built-in game, Mine Storm never had a box.
  • Along with the version of the game that ends at level 13, on what is a later version of the game truly ends on level 89, which there are several extra dots on this screen that will never hatch into Mines. There is also something that looks like a fireball that will not turn into smaller fireballs when shot. The player is either stuck there forever if they shoot all the Mines and space dust or if they sacrifice whatever remaining ships they have by running into Mines or space dust particles then the game will end. Presumably the third version of the game has a bit of code cleanup, as there are no reports of the game crashing, some mine fields differ between the first and second U. S. versions after just a few Mine Fields, many levels were added and there have been posts online in regards to people making it to Mine Field 90 on this version. It is currently unknown for how much longer these games can continue past that level.
  • In regards to the original level 13 bug, the "father of the Vectrex" Jay Smith had originally thought no one would get past level 13, since no one at his Western Technologies company could. However, after only one or two weeks after the Vectrex was commercially released, Jay Smith's son Spencer Smith beat level 13, causing his Vectrex to crash, prompting him to ask his father “Dad, what is this?” when his game ended.[1]
  • There have been many knock-offs of the game made from within GCE to modern day homebrewers. One was reportedly entitled Mine Storm III, supposedly having hundreds of levels (one must assume it was a bug-fixed version that would not crash) and there was only one copy made with a handmade, rather than a printed label[2]. A ROM file for a MonStorm (or "Monster Mine Storm") was sold off in regards to some Vectrex rarities in 2011[3], and a modern day hack called Mine Storm III (Fred Taft hack) was created, eliminating the level 13 bug. Also, the first 13 levels comprised one "stage", which the mines would start blinking on and off. The further the player got into a game, the longer the mines would blink off, as with every 13 levels the player could make their way through, that would count as more "stages" that were completed.
  • Mine Storm (somewhat) made an appearance during the pilot episode of the Charles in Charge tv series. During this episode, Douglas Pembroke (played by Jonathan Ward) could be seen playing it, as the Minelayer could be seen at one point (although the game sounds were totally different), although when Charles (played by Scott Baio) asks him what he was doing, he replied that he was "killing Martians". Charles prematurely ended Pembroke's playing twice by literally pulling the plug on the Vectrex during the episode.

Links/strategy guide/review[edit | edit source]

  • The Vectrex/Mine Storm from the Charles in Charge episode can be seen here (note: this is two clips edited into one)
  • Hit the appropriate tabs below for a strategy guide and a review.

Basic strategies/early Mine Fields[edit | edit source]

  • ALWAYS look for and find a decent spot to move and park your spaceship after the Minelayer seeds a Mine Field before the Mines hatch. Your ship should be in an area where there are very few dots (/unhatched Mines), if possible (which sometimes isn't possible, unfortunately, due to the random way the Minelayer scatters around the Mines wherever it pleases). Try to avoid the bottom area of the screen when a new Mine Field begins near where the words "Mine Field__" (with corresponding Mine Field number) will appear, which could obscure an unhatched Mine or make it hard to see until it's too late. The shots in the Gallery at the bottom of this guide named as Figures 1-3 show areas marked by a letter that are decent areas to move your ship to (note: the straight numbered photos denote the untouched screenshots as is, while the ones marked with an "A" [1a, 2a, 3a] is the same shot, but marked with positions). And once Mines start hatching and start being destroyed, more areas will open up, so keep alert and move your ship to those areas when possible.
  • Try not to use Thrust too often until you start having to deal with the Magnetic and/or Fireball Mines and space dust (there will be more on those in a later section for those that have a Vectrex that goes beyond level 13), then you'll have to use it often. Also, don't use it for too long if possible, as it doesn't take much time at all for your ship to travel really quickly and possibly into a Mine. Use Escape even less, as it can put you in an even worse predicament than before you had used it.
  • BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. This includes the situations when you have to flee by using Thrust and your ship wraps around from one screen edge to another; make sure there isn't one or more Mines on the other side of the screen you're about to emerge from (i. e. if you're at the bottom of the screen heading down and you'll reappear at the top, so make sure there are no Mines at that top section of the screen you're about to appear at). Remember this if you're being pursued by Magnetic Mines or space dust (if applicable on the latter). Try to be alert as to how few unhatched Mines are left, since it's a good idea to be ready for the Minelayer if it's about to come out and to deal with it as soon as possible.
  • Do "cleanup" whenever possible; i. e. take care of a bunch of the smaller/quicker moving Mines and space dust when the screen is littered with a lot of such dangers. Sure it's fun to shoot away at anything that moves to your heart's content, but it won't be long before you have to start discriminating for your safety's (and remaining ships') sake. Also, a lot of the time it's a good idea to destroy one Mine and its smaller ones when they hatch whenever possible, rather than shooting at anything that moves and constantly making Mines multiply that way when you shoot the large- and medium-sized ones.
  • Minelayerappears.jpg
    As the Minelayer was mentioned earlier, it's a good idea to either destroy it as quickly as possible, or destroy whatever last Mines or space dust is left before it appears, which will end the current Mine Field and take you to the next one. If you cannot do that and the last Mines or space dust particles are out of shooting range, STOP SHOOTING. Make sure you can get off a few shots at the Minelayer as quickly as possible when it appears. Also be aware as to what areas of the screen it can appear from, marked by asterisks in this picture here at right (click on pic to enlarge), and keep your ship away from those areas whenever the last of the Mines or space dust particles are hatched.

Fireball Mines[edit | edit source]

Dealing with Fireball Mines–These can be a pain, especially for those that say they have never gotten past the second Mine Field. Granted, possibly with no matter what someone does, they may never get any better at the game, but here are a few things to try for those nonetheless:

  • Before firing at a Fireball Mine, make sure your ship is not really close to it; if one is passing within firing range and it is only an inch and a half or less away, allow it to pass by without shooting it. The further your ship is away from the Mine, the safer you’ll be, and the more time you'll have to react to it, whether to keep on shooting in hopes of destroying the fireball it releases, to turn and thrust away, or using Escape if you have to (although that should be avoided as much as possible though).
  • Try to make sure you are firing directly at the Mine, since most of the time it will launch the fireball straight at your ship. This will better ensure that you will be able to destroy the fireball.
  • As it was mentioned earlier, pay attention to your surroundings, such as shooting a medium-sized Fireball Mine, which would turn into two small ones somewhere on the screen...one of which could be right in your line of fire, launching another fireball in the process, which could end up destroying your ship.
  • Be wary of Mines that are glowing very brightly, as there is more than one Mine on top of each other. Make sure you have plenty of distance from these formations and have enough time to react to more than one fireball coming your way. Also, try to shoot just one in the formation, which will only launch one fireball, which, if you are a fair distance away, pausing long enough could ensure that the other Mine(s) will continue on its course without launching an additional fireball and will give you enough time to deal with the one fireball that is coming your way.
  • Fireballminestrategy.jpg
    There is a little trick for Fireball Mines to launch their shots in a different direction: as the screenshot here shows, lets say your ship is at position A on the screen, and a Fireball Mine is at position B, heading left. This means that when it reaches the left side of the screen it will wrap around to the right side. Shooting it when it is near the edge usually allows it to launch a fireball to the left, meaning it will disappear the moment it reaches the edge of the screen, not being a danger to you at all. (This, of course, can work with all edges of the screen, being top, bottom or right.)

Magnetic and Magnetic-Fireball Mines[edit | edit source]

Magnetic and Magnetic-Fireball Mines Strategies--Unfortunately this might be "game over" for those who can't handle thrusting around a lot, so there isn't much that can be helped there. For those that can though, keep these tips in mind:

  • Remember to have enough reaction time to turn around and thrust out of a situation if faced with several of these Mines coming after you at once (or use Escape if you have to, but as per usual, that's not always that great an idea). When several of them are together in a group, shooting as many as possible doesn't have as many consequences as firing at several Fireball Mines and having to deal with their shots as well.
  • Try to pick off the smaller ones when possible; there's nothing worse than thrusting around, trying to take care of ones that are threatening you, trying not to shoot while passing really close (or on top of) unhatched Mines and by making even MORE of them appear by shooting larger ones (whether they are Magnetic or even regular "dumb" Mines, as it's still more you'll have to deal with). The smaller ones move faster too, which is another reason to try to deal with them quicker than the larger ones.
  • And as it was mentioned, try not to shoot much of anything if you are thrusting near or through an area of unhatched Mines. New ones could appear right on top of you and cost you a reserve ship when hatched.
  • Magneticstrategy.jpg
    If it is fairly safe without a lot of either already hatched Mines floating about and/or there are not a lot of unhatched onscreen Mines, one strategy is to "lead" around the Magnetic Mines, then turn around and shoot them from the opposite direction (note: eventually a video will be made of this and a link provided, which could make this easier to understand, rather than using another picture, but this will have to do for now). As the shot here shows, lets say you are thrusting your ship from the top towards position A in the photo at right -- heading up -- which will cause your ship to wrap to the bottom of the screen to position B. Magnetic Mines are on your tail the entire time. If you get enough of a lead on them without having them reverse direction, you could turn your ship around at position C and start shooting at them as they re-emerge at position B, then turn back around, thrust out of there (if they get too close for comfort), and repeat the process until they are all destroyed (which of course, this can be accomplished in the reverse, or with thrusting from side to side, using the side edges of the screen as well, rather than top/bottom).

Pretty much the same strategies apply with Magnetic-Fireball Mines, especially in regards to several of them being on top of each other that was mentioned earlier (use extreme caution in a situation such as these!), although with one additional thing to note/step to take:

  • Magneticfireballstrategy.jpg
    Remember the Fireball Mine strategy of shooting them when they are near a screen edge, which will usually cause them to shoot a fireball in the direction of the edge, rather than your ship? You will have to do that as much as possible, along with trying one additional step: in the shot here at left, lets say you're thrusting from the top of the screen to the bottom (from point A to B, like shown earlier). One thing to do is to veer to the side and shoot at the Mines at an angle as you glide around (say at point C in the picture); if done correctly, the Magnetic-Fireball Mine(s) will shoot off a fireball at the last position you were at when you shot it/them, which your ship will not be in harm's way once the fireball(s) is/are launched, since the inertia kept your ship moving, and away from the fireball(s), in case the Mine(s) reverse direction and start heading towards you.

Space dust[edit | edit source]

Note: if you either cannot make it past Mine Field 13 and/or don't have a Vectrex that goes up to level 89, these notes don't apply to you.

Space dust--Pretty much the previous strategy along the lines of "pay attention to your whereabouts" applies here, especially since space dust can be hard to spot, and shooting them results in the same big explosion that shooting all Mines do as well, which restricts your field of vision for an instant. Be on the lookout for their launching from a dot on the screen. Also, when doing "cleanup" of a lot of space dust drifting around, shoot the faster moving pieces, rather than the slow ones, as the latter will hatch even more space dust. So concentrate on the quicker moving ones to get them off the screen as soon as possible without creating even more pieces of space dust to have to deal with.

Magnetic and/or Fireball space dust[edit | edit source]

Pretty much the same aforementioned strategies apply towards the Mines that have these attributes, along with knowing what you're dealing with: if you're being followed by the Magnetic-Fireball ones that have one bright dot next to another dot, seek out and destroy the smaller and faster moving ones if possible in order so they won't hatch into smaller versions of themselves when shot, unlike how the bigger ones will. Use the same strategies of thrusting around and using screen edges to your advantage so they will launch their Fireballs at them rather than your ship.

Mine Fields 13 and beyond[edit | edit source]

Mine Fields 13 and beyond--There are at least three versions of Mine Storm; one just flat-out crashes at level 13, which could possibly be the end of the game no matter what. Another version allows the player to continue on, although they must do several things in order to keep their game going:

  • Stay as close to the center of the screen as possible when taking care of the last Mine or two or space dust. The further the player is away from the center that has this version, the higher the chances are that the game will crash. If your Vectrex does not skip levels after you clear Mine Field 13, then these tips won't apply to you.
  • Try to keep from pushing any more buttons than you have to when the last Mines or pieces of space dust are destroyed, and ESPECIALLY stay away from pressing Escape and Thrust once the current Mine Field you are on is cleared, as the game might think you're pressing a button to choose a player format (i. e. one or two players) and the next thing you could see is the dreaded choose player menu when it crashes back to that screen, ending your game.

This version ends at Mine Field 89, if a player is able to make it that far. If so, it is marked by several space dust particles and what appears to be a fireball that slowly travels around the playfield. Shooting the latter won't produce any other, smaller fireballs. There will still be several dots (unhatched Mines) onscreen when the player either destroys all other Mines or pieces of space dust. The player will have to either press reset or turn off their Vectrex to end the game or sacrifice a ship in order to start the Mine Field over.

The third known version, which is a version that was released after the North American launch of the Vectrex, has a bit of code cleanup and is not known to crash, as well as having some changes (the Magnetic Mines make their debut during the second Mine Field, then the Fireball Mines appear afterwards, rather than the latter starting on the second level). Reportedly people have gotten to Mine Field 90 on this version. It is currently unknown if the game ends there or if players can keep going, although it did not sound like the aforementioned strategies of staying near the center of the screen were needed for what is assumed to be the second North American version that ends at Mine Field 89.

So, that ends the game for two out of three known versions, as well as this guide :) Happy storming! (Guide by Darrylb500)

vectrex.nl review[edit | edit source]

The year was 1982. The Vectrex was to be unveiled. I'm sure it was a bit of a surprise to the gaming public and vendors alike at the ideal of having a vector graphics system at home. Vector graphic games had some pretty big hits in the arcade, so why not bring several of them home?

Of course, THE biggest hit of them all was Asteroids. So making a vector clone of a vector arcade game probably seemed pretty obvious to most.

So, lets go over the Cloning Game Checklist then...have a ship that can turn left and right, shoot, thrust, and utilize an escape option (hyperspace, but renamed "escape" in this version), check! Have your ship shoot objects that split into two smaller ones (and have that happen twice), check! Have a U. F. O. appear during a wave, check!

However, so Atari wouldn't sue, some changes had to be made; what could they BE? Hold on a sec as a can of Lawyer-B-Gone is grabbed...how about your ship won't have a 1 in 5 chance of blowing up upon re-entry from hyperspace? And have the new objects appear from what seems to be stars on the screen? And have the U. F. O. behave differently from the original?

Houston, we have a cloned game.

Yep, you controlled a ship stuck in a bunch of mine fields. New mines would grow from dots on the screen once you shot the big ones, so make sure you're not sitting on a dot when you shoot at a larger mine, or else a new mine could grow from the dot and destroy you instantly if it decides to hatch right then and there.

Once all the dots have been hatched into mines (beats spending years taking the mines through school and then have them refuse to leave the nest years later and get a blasted job, I suppose), the minelayer ship appears and lays down new mines. So it's your best bet to shoot it as quickly as possible.

Then, once you clear the first mine field, more changes arrive via changing mine types: one type of mine, when shot, will shoot a fireball straight at you. These are a bit fun. Then magnetic mines are attracted to you like Paris Hilton to a nightclub opening, so if you can't handle flight controls real well, you'd better learn getting used to that thrust button real fast, especially since after that are mines that are magnetic AND shoot fireballs; whee!

Unfortunately there's the dreaded wave 13 bug that ends up crashing or ending your game, which should never have been allowed out the door. People who made a request to the Vectrex company GCE about it got a replacement cartridge for it in return with the bug fixed. One thing it said in the instructions was that if your Vectrex went blank after clearing that screen (if you could get that far) was to hit the reset button, although I never had that happen with mine; what occurs is that the screen will blink and several mine fields will be skipped. If your ship is close to the center of the screen after clearing a mine field where it does this, the game will keep on going, but if it's in a corner or something and has to be drawn back into the center (which is a little cinematic that happens with the clearing of every mine field), then the game will end.

That, along with having the mine field being entirely re-seeded if you die before clearing it, are the only new things I don't like about this game (the latter of which really sucks asteroid, if you know what I mean). Everything else is cool, although the space dust that starts appearing after wave 13 is really strange, looking like a graphical glitch or something. Space dust is hard to see but just as deadly as anything else in the game, and can have the same properties as the magnetic and/or fireball mines. So if you just thought dusting your house in real life was annoying enough as it is, then you're in for a real sour surprise, should you ever get that far in this game.

Even though simple, the graphics are cool, with the geometrically-shaped mines, and the sounds are good, although I think the scratchy thrust sound is annoying. The controls are perfect though, there's no beating those at all.

And to this DAY the game still holds interest: a friend of mine on a gaming forum posted a couple of years ago about how she saw her very first Vectrex ever in person (think she was barely born when they were around, maybe not even then) at a UK resale shop. The famous intro with the minelayer seeding a mine field in 3-D enthralled her to watching it for hours, since it had no controller, so she couldn't play it.

Even though I hope she was exaggerating when she said "hours" (she must be easily amused), in the days of polygon graphics, speech synthesis (Spike was the only Vectrex game back then that talked), photo-realistic graphics, gaming music spawning it's own industry, people addicted to online RPGs or fragfests, etc., etc., it's nice to hear something as near-extinct as the wire frame vector graphics still being able to enthrall someone in this day and age.

Score 8/10

Review written by Darryl

References[edit | edit source]

This article uses material from the Minestorm Gaming Wikia article and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

This article was featured from September - October, 2011.

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