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Stramash Zone

Stram

Developer Jim Watt
Publisher ClockworkRobot
Release date 2018
Genre Multi-directional shooter
Mode Single player
Media Cartridge

BackgroundEdit

Battlezone was an early First Person Shooter vector arcade game where players, controlling a tank, would take on a host of enemies in a 3-D world. It would end up being ported to multiple console and computer systems.

Stramash Zone is a clone of Battlezone.

GameplayEdit

The player, the "Tank Captain", controls a tank on Mars[1] in a first person viewpoint. They must destroy all enemies possible while avoiding getting hit in the process, as being hit by an enemy shell or a Missile will cause them to lose a tank and the game will end when there are no more tanks left in reserve.

Immediately at the start of a game, a warning tone will sound, indicating that an enemy is nearby; arrows pointing left or right indicates the direction the enemy lies. The player's radar (at top center of the screen) will also show most enemies as well.

The player can only fire one shell at a time, which they can only fire again if the shell hits a target or the next shell becomes available if it misses a target. Not long after a target is destroyed another enemy will appear.

The enemies players face are as follows:

  • Tank–"dumb" enemy that spins around and even if it gets off a shot it usually isn’t even at the player. At times it will run off and not even attack.
  • Missile–always appears in front of the player and makes a straight beeline for their tank. Although it does not fire, it can ram into the player's tank and cost them a life. They can also skip over Obstacles in their path, along with appearing in groups, one right after the other, up to four in number.
  • Super Tank–much more intelligent, faster and accurate while attacking than regular Tanks.
  • Saucer–the only enemy that does not attack the player, as they hover around and are only for bonus points. They are also the only enemy that does not show up on the radar.

Geometric-shaped Obstacles also fill the playing area, which can be used as protection from enemy fire (on default game only; see below section) and occasionally against Missiles.

The difficulty level increases with the enemies becoming faster and smarter and the player has less time to try to destroy a Missile.

Game variations and extrasEdit

  • Stramash Zone–regular Stramash Zone game
  • Rammy Zone–faster version than the above, due to removing the background erupting volcano graphic, Obstacles and Saucers
  • Gloaming Zone–this version runs in an overhead view, with the player's tank denoted as an arrow at the bottom of the screen. As with the Rammy variation, there are no Obstacles or Saucers. Once arrows point towards the center that means an enemy is in range
  • Sound test–allows the players to play all game sounds
  • Clipping–can be turned on or off
  • Controller options–here the player can choose between using the Vectrex Control Panel ("Vectrex Stick"), two controllers ("Vectrex Sticks"), "2 Atari Sticks" (Atari 2600 controllers), Vec Mini II ("Twin Vectrex Sticks") or a "Custom Control" (in case the player had one made)
  • High score–the high score is displayed in the top right corner of the screen with the previous game score at left (unless the high score was achieved with the last game)

Differences from BattlezoneEdit

Although not declared a port, there were still several differences from Battlezone, as Tanks start off much dumber in this version, along with they can run away from the player for a much longer time. Both Tanks do not get stuck against an Obstacle for anywhere near as long as on Battlezone. Saucers hardly move at all, as they move more sideways on Battlezone. Missiles were also a lot faster, as the player usually only got one shot in order to destroy them, rather than speeding up later in the game. The game ran much faster and did not have as many bugs, such as having enemies disappear on radar and then showing up elsewhere. Text stating if enemies are to the left or right was replaced by arrows. The player earned an extra tank at 10,000 points, which does not happen with Stramash Zone, although they have an extra tank to begin with on a new game. There was only one game though, rather than three on Stramash Zone, plus the scoring differs.

ScoringEdit

  • Tank–10 points
  • Missile–20 points
  • Super Tank–30 points
  • Saucer–50 points

Controls, main menuEdit

  • Navigate through menu–up/down on joystick or D-pad
  • Select option–fire on the "press fire to start" option (depends on control setup)

(sound test menu)Edit

  • Navigate through menu–up/down on joystick or D-pad
  • Play/cycle through first selection of sounds–fire (depends on control setup)
  • Play other sound effects–fire when cursor is on desired sound effect (press up/down on joystick or D-pad to select first)
  • Return to main menu–fire on Return! option

(gameplay)Edit

  • Move tank–joystick or D-pad on Vectrex Stick option, move left tank track with joystick or D-Pad in Twin Vectrex Sticks and Vec Mini II options with player two joystick, move left track with left joystick on Twin Atari Sticks option, move right track with joystick or D-pad in Twin Vectrex Sticks and Vec Mini II options with one player joystick, move right track with right joystick in Twin Atari Sticks Option
  • Fire main cannon–button 4 on Vectrex Stick option, left on player 1 joystick on Twin Atari Sticks option, button 4 on player one joystick on Twin Vectrex Sticks option, button 4 on Vec Mini II option

TriviaEdit

  • The game development started "in 2013 in response to a friendly argument on [the] Facebook group Vectrex fans unite! about whether a 3D game like Battlezone would be possible on a Vectrex".[2]
  • The game came with an overlay, which resembles the Battlezone cab with the colored areas for the radar, score and number of tanks remaining.
  • The cursor doesn't appear onscreen, only appearing on the overlay, which it also moved when it indicated an enemy was in range on Battlezone. This feature was removed in order to not hamper the game's speed.
  • 300 copies were made during the game's initial run, which were numbered on the mailer and on the back of the cart. The numbering was done in two colors, as most were done in silver pen and "prime numbers were in gold"[2].
  • The "Chris" and "Chris" that were thanked in the instructions are fellow homebrewers Chris Malcolm (who did the sound effects) and Chris Parsons.
  • The game variation names are Scottish terms, as "Stramash" means "a fight or brawl", "Rammy" "means similar" and "Gloaming" "means twilight" (or literally "twilight zone")[3]
  • Creator Jim Watt was influenced by the "ZX Spectrum port of BattleZone called 'Rommel's Revenge'" that he "played as a kid". He also "stole the idea of making the saucers fly up when hit from the Dragon 32" version of the game[2].
  • The bug where the player is alerted of an enemy, then it will disappear and reappear elsewhere on the radar is due to the enemy "spawning near the edge of the universe then stupidly driving off the edge and respawning"[2].
  • Stramash Zone was a random prize in Vector War VIII, which VectorX won.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Per back of Stramash Zone box.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 E-mail from Jim Watts.
  3. Post from creator Jim Watts on Down the Rabbit Hole's Stramash Zone video.

LinksEdit

Stramash Zone is Vectrex Battlezone

Stramash Zone is Vectrex Battlezone

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