Season 2, Round 1 of the Arcadia 2001/MPT-03 High Score Club will last about two weeks. This round ends on Sunday, January 21, 2017 at 10pm MST (aka Monday, 2am GMT). The game being played this round is Space Vultures, a game released in 1982 for the Emerson Arcadia 2001. Space Vultures is based on Taito's 1980 space-themed arcade game Phoenix (released in America by Centuri).
Here are screenshots of levels 1 and 2:
There are only a limited number of videos of anyone playing Space Vultures. In the few videos that I watched, it doesn't appear that players know that a shield can be used. Here is an example of one person playing the game (under emulation, I think):
Here is the front of the Space Vultures box:
Here is the end-label of the Space Vultures cartridge:
Here is the front of the Space Vultures cartridge:
Here is the back of the Space Vultures cartridge:
Here are the two keypad overlays for Space Vultures:
As is the case with nearly all Arcadia artwork, there is a weirdness going on here that is just about inexpressible. In this case, it appears as though there is a pterodactyl versus (yet another) Millennium Falcon-like spaceship. Ah, Arcadia Artist-- where are you? I want to know the story behind these box covers!
Space Vultures - Quick-Play Rules
Play Space Vultures on real hardware (PAL, NTSC, and any Arcadia family systems) or use the WinArcadia or MAME emulator. The only gameplay option for Space Vultures is being able to choose which is the first screen you play first. Choose to play the first screen by pressing start just once. Shoot all the small hawks on the first screen and all the mother hawks on the second screen. We're playing for highest score.
Visit the Emerson Arcadia 2001 Central website for cartridge images and Arcadia emulators:
Here is a direct link to the Arcadia 2001 ROM images ("SpaceVultures.bin " is the filename for Space Vultures):
Post pictures of your high scores here.
Space Vultures - General Overview
I'm using Ward Shrake's "Director's Cut" of his Arcadia 2001 section of the Digital Press Collector's Guide 7 (published in August 2002) for most of the information that is in this section. I'm including Ward's information about Space Vultures on three difference systems: Emerson Arcadia 2001, Leisure-Dynamics and the French PrestigeMPT-03 release:
Space Vultures Emerson
Confirmed. 6k cart. 1982. #1014 (7). Unauthorized clone of "Phoenix" coin-op. One player; left side controller. Long cart. See the non-U.S. section for notes on the missing mothership stage.
Space Vultures Leisure-Dynamics
Confirmed. 6k. #MC1013 (7). Long cartridge. Unauthorized clone of the "Phoenix" coin-op arcade game. Missing the arcade game's "mothership" stage for legal reasons. Circumstantial evidence strongly suggests there is a version of the game somewhere that includes the missing boss level. In June of 1982 Hanimex told the U.K.-based magazine "Computer and Video Games" that they planned to have a copy of "Phoenix" ready for the initial launch of this system. LANDMARK: Atari's initial survival plans in 1982 centered on protecting their exclusive rights to "Pac-Man". This forced consumers to buy their inferior version of the game, even though many better versions did exist at the time. ("If you can't beat them, have them disqualified"?) Atari spent much of 1982 setting legal precedents regarding "Pac-Man". Many competitors were already reeling from unexpectedly slow (or no) sales during the Christmas 1982 season. Atari tried to finish them off by buying up more arcade game rights, and barring any of their competitors from being able to make good clone games. One of the second-wave of licensed games was "Phoenix". A number of companies wanted to make a home version, but once Atari bought legal copyrights, they KNEW they would be sued if they put out an infringing version of the game. Imagic tried it anyway with their "Demon Attack" game for the Intellivision. Atari sued them, citing the boss stage as the reason. Other "birds in space" games were implied to be OK, since Atari did not go after games that did not have a mothership stage. Hence the removal of this stage by the makers of this console and its games. I say "removal" since it is clear that there were no technical reasons the level could not be included. "Red Clash" has a mothership stage in it; it may even be re-used raw assembly code from "Space Vultures". SV only used 6k of code, with 2k still available. This doesn't sound like much at first, but consider that "Crazy Gobbler" fit into less space than 2k. The game "Hobo" had 5 different screens and "Jumpbug" had 12 screens, and neither of those games used more than 8k of space. German collector Stefan Piasecki collected for the TVG console back in the day, and he reports hearing the rumor even then that the game included the mothership stage. He suspects magazine reports or internal literature had described an earlier version of the game (made before Atari bought the arcade game's rights), which is why shop owners told him that the stage was there. If you look at the Emerson console's box art, you will see it implies the inclusion of a mothership stage. The use of EPROMs instead of ROMs in the USA is suspicious in itself; it implies a last-minute game code change. The recent confirmation that these games were all written in assembly language, likely shoots down the idea that the missing boss stage is merely hidden inside the existing code, simply lying dormant and unused. (See also "American Football".) Last but not least… an MPT-03 catalog for the Prestige company appears to show a screenshot of the boss stage of this game. Olivier Boisseau correctly states that this may have simply been a faked screenshot, with nothing to back it up. But it also is just as possible that it is an accurate rendering of a game that once existed and was nearly ready for its final release. With so many other arcade clones showing up in two different versions -- an early one that was a blatant arcade clone and a later one that was a post-lawsuit, "watered down," legalized version of the first game -- it stands to reason that this game likely suffered a similar fate. The point to all this is simple… Ward wants people to keep their eyes open, so we can find and archive the full ROM version.
Vautour de l'espace MPT-03 (Prestige)
Unconfirmed. #MG-322. AKA: "Space Vultures". A catalog by Prestige shows a screenshot of the last stage -- the mothership -- of the arcade game. See "Space Vultures" notes.
High quality scans of Space Vultures box, manual, and cartridge are here:
Here is the manual's cover:
For complete information about this game, visit the above URL link at archive.org. I've included the important points from the manual here (including some broken English terms):
Space Vultures - Video Game Instructions for Emerson Arcadia 2001
Cartridge No. 7, Part No. 1014
Object of the Game
- Watch out!! VULTURES from space are attacking your ROCKET.
- At start, either one of scenes, SMALL HAWKS or MOTHER HAWKS, can be chosen.
- Avoid the dropping bombs from the enemy VULTURES and their collidings.
- Fire your ROCKET to destroy them.
- An energy shield is provided to your ROCKET only in the combat with the SMALL HAWKS. When your ROCKET is energized, the firing from the SMALL HAWKS and their colliding cannot destroy your ROCKET.
- Five consecutive ROCKETS are provided to you for each game.
- The purpose of the game is to score as many points as possible by hitting the VULTURES.
To Play the Game
- There are 2 different scenes of play that can be selected, SMALL HAWKS by pressing "START" button once or MOTHER HAWKS by pressing "START" button consecutively twice.
- However a second scene with 3 MOTHER VULTURES (See Fig. 4) will appear after all SMALL HAWKS in first scene have been destroyed.
- Fire your ROCKET by depressing any "FIRE" key on keyboard or squeezing any Action Switch located at the side of the hand controller (See Fig. 1A and Fig. 2) to destroy the VULTURES.
- To avoid the deadly bomb and collision, move your ROCKET left/right and up/down using the control of the disc/joystick on hand controller. In the combat with MOTHER VULTURES, you can control your ROCKET to move left/right only.
- If your firing hits the MOTHER HAWK'S wing or wing tip, the wing or wing tip becomes a SMALL HAWK which cannot be destroyed and do not attack you. But they will come back to attack you and can be destroyed in another scene after all MOTHER HAWKS have been killed.
- You have to hit the MOTHER HAWK'S body or another wing again, otherwise it is still alive and continues to attack you.
- While the combat with the SMALL HAWK, your ROCKET can be energized to protect itself being destroyed. Simply depress any "ENERGY SHIELD" button on keyboard. The color of your ROCKET will change to blue for a few seconds. A next energy shield can be set up after a short interval. The time of interval increases as your scoring point increases. Your firing or collision can destroy the enemy HAWKS but the collision does not increase the score.
- To maintain highest score on the screen, merely press "START" button for the next game. The highest score will displace on the bottom right corner so next player can challenge. Do not depress "reset" button, otherwise all scores will be wiped out.
To Freeze (Pause) the Game
- This game has a freezing ability so that you may FREEZE the game whenever it is necessary until you come back to continue to play it again. Use right hand controller for freezing or unfreezing action.
- To FREEZE the game, press any FREEZE key on keyboard and all action will be freezed including the sound. Decrease the volume level of your TV if necessary.
- For UNFREEZE function, press any UNFREEZE key on keyboard and action will be resumed immediately. If volume has been decreased while freezing, be sure to increase the volume of TV back to desired level before unfreezing the game.
Small Hawk (stationary) 5 points
Small Hawk (flying) 20 points
Mother Hawk (body) 25 points
Mother Hawk's wing tip 5 points
Mother Hawk's wing 10 points
Space Vultures - The Mysterious Missing Mothership Level
The Prestige Video Computer Game MPT-03 console, released in France, had a release of Space Vultures called Vautour de l'espace. Prestige published a game catalog that has a picture of the missing mothership level from that game. I used this tiny picture as a basis for my mothership "level" (a still image, really) that I released to the Arcadia Yahoo group on June 9, 2002. This "stage" is on most Arcadia multicarts.
In 2002, Olivier Boisseau (I think), added a Prestige catalog to the old-computers.com website. Back then, scans were very low resolution. Here are the low-res scans that I used as the basis for my silly mothership creation:
Turning the machine on and off again, or pressing the reset button, will fix the problem (this does not happen under the MESS emulator). The 2650 source code and other files for this mothership are available in this zip archive:
Space Vultures - Mothership (2002)(Adam Trionfo)(Arcadia-MPT-03).zip 26.12KB 67 downloads
Check out the bonus points area below for various ways to earn bonus points with this mothership level.
Space Vultures Gameplay Options
Space Vultures has a few gameplay options, but we're just playing the game on the default setting: just press start once to play (if you press it twice in a row then you'll start on the second stage; don't do that).
Space Vultures (Scoring)
We are playing for the highest score. 10 points are awarded for first place, 9 for second, 8 for third, etc.
Space Vultures (Bonus Points):
There are quite a few ways to earn bonus points this round:
Space Vultures - Video Game Play - (1 Point) - I didn't find any proper gameplay video this game being played on real hardware (I'm pretty sure that all the videos of this game that I did find were made using emulation). Anyone who makes a video of a complete game being played on real hardware will earn one point. Please make sure to show that there is an energy shield available (press buttons 1, 4 or 7 on the left controller).
Space Vultures - Video Review - (2 Points) - I didn't find any reviews of this game. I'd really like to see some quality video that talks about the gameplay. Anyone who reviews Space Vultures will earn two points. Note that a video review has the extra point built-in that would otherwise be awarded for a gameplay video.
Space Vultures - Documenting Bugs - (1 Point) - As we've been discovering for ourselves, Arcadia games can be flaky. If anyone finds any problems, and documents them, then they will earn one bonus point. Just in case there are dozens of bugs, you can only earn one bonus point no matter how matter bugs are found.
Space Vultures - Backstory - (1 Point) - Space Vultures doesn't provide a backstory. I guess one isn't needed for this game, but it might be fun to write one anyway. Write a background that may have been included with the game in 1982 and you'll get a bonus point.
Space Vultures - "Play" Mothership Level - (1 Point) - Anyone who tries out my mothership level on real hardware or under emulation (and provides a screenshot) gets a bonus point. This is dead simple; everyone should get this point.
Space Vultures - Play and Integrate Mothership Level (10 Points!!!) - Special Note: This programming challenge is open for all of season 2 (which is all of 2018!!!). Somewhere out in the world there may be a prototype of Space Vultures that has the mothership level built into it. Anyone who builds the mothership level into Space Vultures in a gameplay style like the arcade game Phoenix, and makes this missing third level fully playable in no more than 8KB, will get ten bonus points. Hell, maybe even more bonus points-- this might be negotiable, as this isn't a trivial task! This isn't a simple undertaking, but it might be fun to do for those very few people with the proper skill set!
I first played Space Vultures in about 2002. I didn't find it to be a great game, but it isn't bad either. It's simple and it works. I also don't recall any bugs, but it's been a long time since I've played this game for anything more than a few passing moments. Fifteen years ago I was hooked on Space Vultures for a little while. That's why I devoted some time to creating the static mothership screen. I wish that I had the programming chops to get this missing level into the game. I think if you give this game a chance that you'll have fun with it. So, give it a go; what can you lose?
This season is just starting, so jump right in from the beginning of round 1 and have some fun beating the feathers out of these space birds!