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It was obvious that Mattel was at a disadvantage in doing arcade game conversions: Atari, through its coin-op division, created and owned many of the most famous arcade titles. Mattel had to go shopping at other arcade game companies, trying to license whatever popular games were left over.
There was an alternative which many programmers and a number of Marketing people favored: create good, original arcade-type games for Intellivision, promote them, then license those titles to outside coin-op companies; the companies would get the benefit of Mattel's advertising, and Mattel would benefit from a line of Intellivision coin-op machines in the arcades. Thus was born the Arcade Network.
However, while the first Arcade Network game, Vectron, was in development, Mattel Electronics signed a deal with Data East for the first option on their arcade games. Data East became, in effect, Mattel's coin-op division and Marketing lost interest in the idea of developing original arcade titles in-house. Aside from a big push in the Intellivision Game Club News (Issue 5, Spring 1983), Vectron was released with no promotion and no attempt was made at licensing it to outside companies. There was no second Arcade Network game.
The Arcade Network box color was burgundy.
INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [#5788]
Working titles: Vectrix, Vortex
Design, Program, Sound: Mark Urbaniec
Graphics: Connie Goldman
Instructions posted here | Overlay posted here
Play this game on Intellivision Lives! for Windows & Mac!
Hungrees, G-spheres, splits, sweeps and prizums -- the nasties are out to stop you from building your energy bases. Use your Vectron to build the bases level by level to increase your score. Or, use Vectron to shoot down or stun the nasties with energy blasts. But don't run out of energy, the nasties are nibbling away at your score. One or two player action.
Mark wanted to capture the speed and color of the arcade game Tempest in an Intellivision title. The challenge was that Tempest used vector graphics, while the Intellivision used TV's standard raster graphics. To reflect that the game would have a vector graphics look and feel, Mark chose the name Vectrix. Unfortunately, late in the development of the game, the Vectrex Arcade System from General Consumer Electronics (later bought by Milton Bradley) was announced -- a self-contained home game system that used true vector graphics. Mattel briefly considered fighting for the name, then decided to let it go. The game was briefly titled Vortex before the final name -- Vectron -- was chosen.
FUN FACT: Mark and Keith Robinson, who was programming TRON Solar Sailer at the same time Mark was programming Vectron, both disliked the built-in Intellivision font, and they both hated that the "at" sign (@) was used as a copyright symbol on the title screens. They developed custom fonts for their games and made a special point of including a true c-in-circle copyright symbol in the character sets. They proudly showed off their custom title screens to Management, pointing out that for the first time Intellivision games would have correct copyright symbols.
Management vetoed their use. The argument: if there was ever a court fight over the legitimacy of the copyrights on the old games, Mattel could argue that the "at" sign should be accepted in context as a copyright symbol, since the Intellivision can't generate a true one. Ah, but Vectron and TRON Solar Sailer would show that the Intellivision could generate a true copyright symbol, thus jeopardizing the copyrights of all previous Intellivision games. Mark and Keith were ordered to use "at" signs, instead.
Feeling that this was about the stupidest thing they had ever heard, Mark and Keith went directly to Roy Ekstrand, head of Mattel's legal department, and presented their case. His decision: Mattel could argue that technological advancements since the earlier games now made it possible to use correct copyright symbols, where previously it wasn't. It would be safe to use the real copyright symbols.
Gabriel Baum, VP of Applications Software, was furious that Mark and Keith had gone over his head, and told them to "never do it again." Then he told them to use their real copyright symbols.
They later wondered: Was it worth risking their jobs over something as trivial as having the correct copyright symbol on their title screens? Their conclusion: "Damn right it was."
FUN FACT: According to the instruction book, if you beat the top level, #99, you will be rewarded with "a special little visual treat." The treat? Due to space constraints, there was only room for a message reading "Congratulations. You are very good." The difficulty increases so much, though, that it is impossible to beat level 99. Or at least, Mark hopes it is. "If I went through all that to see the 'special visual treat' and all I got was, 'You are very good,'" Mark notes, "I'd sure be pissed."
EASTER EGG: With the right combination of maneuvers with the energy block, you can get Mark's name to appear on screen. Since Mattel forbid hiding names in games, Mark made sure that the combination was so complicated that no one would stumble across it by accident. Well, he did such a good job hiding it, that he can't quite remember anymore how to do it. He's trying to recreate the combination; we'll post it here as soon as he finds it.