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Rocks ‘n’ Saucers

Homebrew, 2017

Predating my 8-bit arcade Vectrex vector game mania and the v2 firmware my 5th ‘normal’ Vectrex game was an Asteroids clone, initially nameless for quite a while. Part of the reason is that just like the original Atari Asteroids code (rev2+) the name is actually not displayed anywhere. So I could still think of it as ‘my Asteroids’… Only once I had the Atari Asteroids code up and running did it really need a name; and the cheesy name ‘RnS’ somehow tickled my funny bone (inspired by the arcade game Bump ‘n’ Jump).

This is also the first game of mine which needed calibration for a given Vectrex for the best experience: the center and border need to be well defined esp. so that the bright shots don’t light up the sides of the vector display. Plus several brightness parameters since I wanted the shots here to be phenomenally bright, at least optionally.

Besides brightness and calibration to improve the game there are also several control input setups to choose from. Plus game modes to help to get into the game – the ‘no saucers’ and ‘one on one’ are there to figure out ways to beat these w/o being harassed by the others. Shooter (with more shots) for beginners and ‘hard’ to bypass the easier waves at the start (Asteroids gets harder after 35k – e.g. the small UFO becomes even more deadly).


  • Brightness
  • Game Mode: Arcade / Hard Difficulty / No Saucers / One On One / Shooter
  • Input: Buttons / Buttons 2 / Digital Joystick / Analog Joystick
  • Reset Highscores
  • Game Info: “Welcome to my tribute to the best vector games and best game of the 1970s, period. Back in 2017 when I developed RnS and afterwards Deluxe I was very pleased with the games. Several pretty cycle wasting things had to be done here for the first time: esp. figuring out a way to calibrate the output for a given Vectrex so width, height and a center offset. Without this the superbright shots which I really wanted to have just do not work – they light up the tubes innards instead which looks very distracting. Also a calibration parameter was tried out for the first time for a subset of drawing primitives. Now all this is part of the backbone of my advanced rendering scheme but this ancestral version, which after all a 6809 can still handle and the ones afterwards are definitely too much for it, is still related enough that I could automatically generate calibration params for them using the now menu-global ones.”


For all inputs: Button 3: Thrust, Button 4: Fire

  • ‘Buttons’ – Hyperspace by moving the joystick
  • ‘Buttons 2’ – Hyperspace by moving the joystick and/or pressing all 4 buttons
  • ‘Digital Joystick’ – Joystick-X rotates the ship, 2: Hyperspace
  • ‘Analog Joystick’ – Ship swivels towards the Joystick direction , 2: Hyperspace

Vectrex’s 40th anniversary edition, 2022

The game is part of the VecFever software suite and there the calibration parameters are derived from the overall values and the options set via the menu system. For the 40th anniversary, however, I have assembled the standalone cart. again for a public release: here 3: within the game enters an options page. And all options, hiscore tables and calibration parameters are stored on a DS2431 one-wire chip, if present. If the chip is not present a ‘NO CHIP’ notification is output on the options page.

Very easy to build your own standalone cartridge
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