Vectorball logo

THIS is one of the oddest and most original sports games I ever had the pleasure of booting up on my Amiga. It is set in a surreal world of vector and shaded landscapes where the inhabitants of the planet watch their national sport, Vector Ball, whenever they have time.

This is a complex blend of ice hockey, netball, and green bowling. If that sounds difficult to comprehend wait until you see the bizarre pitch of heavy contours, ditches, hills, ridges and valleys.

The object of the game is to outscore your opponent, manoeuvring the ball past the droid and into its goal area. As in netball, players are not allowed to move with the ball so they must stop and throw the ball to advance.

The wacky pitch is bounded by a fence so it is possible to bounce the ball off the side of the pitch to avoid contact with the opposing droid. One nifty feature which the programmers at Binary Design have added is a method of judging the power of the shot from a droid by the length of the robot's neck.

Plenty of alternative options can be selected before each game - different style pitches and custom robots with improved speed and shot power. The pitch can have shaded or dot graphics. You can decide on the length of the game and the mass of the ball - a light ball needing less shot power to move a given distance.

Vector Ball can be played by either one or two players and the ability of the computer-controlled droid can be changed to suit the player. Although the one player mode is highly enjoyable, you don't really get to appreciate the intensity of the gameplay until you play against a friend. The pace is frantic.

Both sonically and graphically the game is highly polished with excellent scrolling and well designed sprites. The one annoying feature is that you have to wait far too long for shading pitches to be generated.

This continues Mastertronic's excellent track record in budget games. Excellent VFM. The most innovative sports game I've ever seen, the gameplay is from another dimension.

Vectorball logo


MAD, MAD, MAD, or Mastertronic Added Dimension as it says on the packaging. Vectorball is a curious blend of ice hockey, netball and bowls played on a choice of metallic pitches between two droids. The object of the game, curiously enough, is to score more goals than your opponent - this is great fun when you're playing a friend but the computer is almost impossible to beat.

You score by manoeuvring the ball to the end wall goal mouths through you're unable to move with the ball - you must remain stationary and shoot by pressing Fire. You can judge the power of the shot by checking out the length of your droid's 'neck'? The higher his little head hovers above his body the more welly in the kick. You can also work out exactly when your opponent is about to shoot and tackle him by running straight into him.

Play can be quite confusing, as the pitch scrolls to follow the movement of the ball - if your droid is out of sight you have a hard job working out which way to manoeuvring around the surface humps and dips.

Ditch pitch
Your play area may contain ditches, hills, valleys, ridges or a combination of each and all. On the Amiga version you can also coose between a dotted or shaded pitch - the latter takes ages to generate but is well worth the wait as the resulting area takes on a 3D metallic 'sheen'.

As you progress to higher levels the pitches become more and more irregular and difficult to negotiate. You can also change the mass of the balls and droids, and versatility factors such as droid acceleration, breaking and friction.

While sound is largely confined to spot FX of bumps and crashes, the graphics are fine. At the end of the day, it's the kind of game you should be able to run as a desktop accessory.

Vectorball logo

MAD, £9.95 disk

The smart alec designers of the future have devised a revolutionary game that poses absolutely no danger to human lives - Vectorball.

Two robot protagonists battle it out on pitches constructed on hills, ridges and valleys. You use your droid to put a ball into the opposition's goal area at the far end of the pitch - before an opposing droid bumps it away and steals possession. Simple, eh?

Gordon Houghton After the appalling 64 incarnation of this weak futuresport, I had slightly higher hopes for the Amiga version. Those hopes have been dashed. From the opening screen you know the game isn't going to win any awards for presentation. Missing pitch-editing options, tedious music and lengthy pauses are irritatingly enough, but actually starting the game reveals worse. The droid control is, to put it mildly, difficult. As if trying to use two different control methods in close succession isn't difficult enough, the pitch appears to be made of glass; one bump from your boisterous opponent and you end up out of sight! After several games I'm almost sure I was close to mastering it but just to spite me, the program crashed. Small mercies, eh?
Paul Glancey Phwoar! Is this game brilliant? Nope. In fact, the only improvements it has over the dire 64 version are scrolling pitches and improved droid sprites. On the opening screen 13 notes of sampled muzak play in an endless, soporific (whassat? - Ed) loop until you've selected your choice of game and waited a further two and a half minutes for the computer to generate the pitch. Why couldn't five three-screen pitches have been stored on disk instead? Not only that - accurate control of your droid is grudgingly difficult. It changes unexpectedly when you take possession of the ball - ridiculously confusing in such a fast-action game. Even worse, the pitch is almost frictionless - like negotiating hills and bumps on ball bearings! The options listed in the instructions for changing physics of the game would have helped but unfortunately, they weren't included in the game. Just like the playability, in fact.