30 January 2010
Parsec - TI99
It's a throw back game, and probably not available anymore. I played this game in 1982 on a Texas Instruments TI99 computer console plugged into a Quasar television set.
Around the same vintage as the Atari 2600, the TI personal computer had a few cartridge games. Parsec was their flagship game and I think it shipped with the system.
At first glance, Parsec is basically a horizontal Galaga, or Vanguard. But unlike those arcade games, you could play it at home, and it was beatable with 16 levels of increasing difficulty. Your 2D spaceship battles UFOs with a sensitive laser blaster. The TI99 had a decent joystick. It was similar to the Atari 2600 remote, with just the stick and a single fire button, but lighter, more responsive, and the red fire button was wide like a (soon to be) Mac mouse clicker.
At each level you need to refuel and to clear the level you have to navigate the asteroid belt. To accomplish this, you need to switch gears. It's a cool feature. The default is 3, and your ship bounces around nicely to combat the alien vessels, but you need to slow down your horizontal movement to 2 in order to navigate the asteroids, and down to speed 1 to crawl through the refueling station.
Great game, wish I still had it in the attic.
By Matthew Zuchowski