The Game: Poor Spike – his girlfriend Molly has been snatched by a beastly enemy, and it’s up to Spike to rescue her (after, of course, declaring “Darnit!”). Spike must climb his way up several ever-moving platforms. He can change the position of the ladders he uses to climb up these platforms, but it’s not as easy as simply reaching the top: to advance to the next level, Spike has to grab a key. Beastly henchmen scoot along the platforms to bump Spike off to his death, but Spike can kick them away momentarily. (GCE, 1983)
Memories: The first voice-synthesis game for GCE‘s already wildly innovative Vectrex console, Spike missed being the first home video game to produce voice synthesis without additional hardware by mere months (wait for it, wait for it… “Darnit!”). (The prize, if anyone’s counting, went to Atari‘s RealSports Baseball for the Atari 5200.) But that’s not the only neat trick Spike! brought to the table.
Putting an isometric 3-D twist on game mechanics that otherwise seem like a straightforward combination of Donkey Kong (ladders and levels) and Q*Bert (enemies who slide in from the sides of the screen to attack our hero), Spike! is a lot of fun. The 3-D angle doesn’t significantly change the game, but it does shake things up enough to put the player in unfamiliar territory; despite this, the controls are surprisingly intuitive.
Spike has reappeared in several latter-day Vectrex homebrew games – the fans obviously realized that the character had franchise potential. If Vectrex had been on the market a year or two earlier, Spike might have been one of the first characters originated from a home video game to hit the mainstream. As it is, however, Spike! remains one of the best games for the Vectrex, and a good indicator that the future of Vectrex might have had some more decent non-licensed-arcade-game titles.