Royal 21


Developer George Pelonis
Publisher Freeware
Release Date August 8, 2009
Genre Card game
Mode Single player only
Media Cartridge
ROM file
Preceded by Vector 21


Royal 21 is a follow-up to FURY's Vector 21, the first ever card game for the Vectrex.

The object of Vector 21 -- a cross between Solitaire and Blackjack -- is to create as many stacks of cards possible equaling a total of 21 or to have a stack of five cards equal less than 21. In this follow-up, though, a Tetris element was added as well, where dealt cards advance towards the playfield area and the player has to move them to the appropriate stacks (note: unlike with Tetris though, the cards move from the bottom to the top of the screen, rather than top to bottom).


  • Start game: any button one through four
  • Position a card: joystick or D-pad
  • Play card in stack: any button


The object is to get as many cards as possible in a stack to equal 21 or to have five cards in a stack equal less than 21, which will then remove the stack from the game. A stack can only have five cards maximum; if a fifth card is placed in a stack and the stack amount is over 21, then that stack is a bust. There are four stacks from left to right on the screen, although they are not numbered. (The first stack is at the left side of the screen, the one next to it on the right is the second stack, etc.)

Once a game has been started, a card appears from the bottom and begins rising to the top of the screen. The player must then position the card that they feel is best suited to a stack. If a stack goes over 21, the player has "busted", and the stack is removed, but the bust counts against the player and it is noted in the Bust-O-Meter at the top of the screen. If there are five busts then the game ends.

Cards are worth their face value; i. e. a two card is worth two points, a three is worth three, etc., and the Kings, Queens, and Jacks are worth 10 points each. An Ace is worth either one or 11 points, which it's value is automatically determined by the game. A Joker (known as Jezebel) is worth not only a variety of points, depending on what cards are in the stack she is placed in, but she will also automatically clear out any stack, no matter how many cards are currently in it.

After every 500 points are scored, the player earns an Anti-Bust, which removes a bust from their total. Also, a stack containing three seven cards in a row will earn the Royal Crown, which will remove the stack from the game and also earn the player an Anti-Bust.


  • 21 (any combination of cards equaling 21, except for Blackjacks, Combos, and Royal Crowns)--10 points
  • Blackjack (Ace + 10 [Jack, Queen or King)--20 or 30 points (a Jacks' score is higher)
  • Fury (five cards in a stack equaling less than 21)--30 points
  • Combo (five cards in a stack equaling 21)--40 points
  • Royal Crown (three seven cards in a stack)--70 points + Anti-Bust
  • Joker Blackjack--50 points
  • Joker/Jack Blackjack--60 points
  • Joker in a stack with zero cards--10 points
    • With one card--20 points
    • With two cards--30 points
    • With three cards--40 points
    • With four cards--50 points
  • Deck bonus (completing a deck)--10 points + Anti-Bust
  • Point bonus (every 500 points scored)--one Anti-Bust


  • At the time of release, creator George Pelonis stated that he thought this was his best Vectrex homebrew to date.[1]
  • A version of Royal 21 was also made for portable phones, which that version was actually released before this one, as well as the Royal 21 Christmas, which only five were ever made, coming in a red cartridge shell, having Santa Claus Joker Cards, a Christmas opening theme song and a Christmas Bonus Theme when the Joker card is played, special labels and manual, and all copies were numbered. Other limited editions included Royal 21 Boston and Royal 21 Vegas (the latter of which came in a clear case and 10 of its copies were sold at the 2010 CGE show).
  • Royal 21 was a limited edition game, which sold out and was released as a free download to be used on Vectrex flashcarts or emulators in December, 2012.[2]



As was mentioned on the main page, even though not “officially” dubbed as one, it seems like Royal 21 is the sequel to Vector 21, where it's the player’s duty to get as many cards as possible in a deck to add up to 21 or less (if there are five cards in a pile). However, in place of a timer on Vector 21, the cards come up from the bottom of the screen and must be quickly placed in a pile that suits them best as they float towards the top of the screen, so there is a higher sense of urgency this time around in order to perform this task.

The rules are fairly simple (and the math part isn’t real complicated, although you can be screwed pretty quickly if you lose your train of thought) and there’s only the tiniest bit of slowdown when there’s a lot of cards on the screen at once (which isn’t even very noticeable). The Vectrex buzz (if you have it on yours) is pretty terrible though, as the game’s pretty quiet for the most part. However, there’s no flicker, the sounds and brief musical pieces are adequate, there's a little bit more graphical detail to the cards this time around than on Vector 21, and you can’t blame the controls on anything.

There’s only a couple of slight problems with the game in that you can get a card of the same value over and over, which can be maddeningly frustrating; for instance, during one game last night (at the time of this writing), I had the screen entirely clear of cards...then I literally got EIGHT cards worth 10 points each (Queen, King, Jack, etc.) in a row, causing several busts in a row! Didn’t seem too random to me there! (Yes I know, it IS still random, yet it seemingly isn’t!) I also felt some of the point values are also too low, taking too long to reach a score of 500 points (or a multiple of) to deduct a bust from your total, leaving not many games that can go on for very long.

However, this is a great, original game, and definitely can stand up to repeated plays months, possibly even years after its original purchase (I’ve been playing it on and off for nearly a year and a half now and dished it out for a bit last night, matter of fact). “Royal” indeed. 9.5/10

(Review by Darrylb500)


  1. E-mail from Pelonis.
  2. Post by Pelonis on the vector gaming forums.

This article uses material from the Royal 21 Gaming Wikia article and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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