Mini-Arcade Gallery

New Mindbusters for Microvision

by Joyce Worley

Milton Bradley is continuing to support Microvision, the smallest programmable unit currently on the market, with new game cartridges. The master component is modestly priced (around $40), fits nicely in one hand, and features a black and white liquid crystal display. Movement is controlled by keypad or paddle.

Microvision makes up for what it lacks in flashy graphics with the versatility of the library of games available for the unit. When the arcader tires of Block Buster, the wall-bashing game packed with every Microvision, he can choose among the largest selection of cartridges currently available for any of the mini-arcade units.

Two new contests from Microvision


M.B. Electronics/$17

Remember the paper and pencil puzzles you used to work in study hall? Mindbuster contains two of these, electronically updated for the Microvision unit. Both will keep the puzzle fan busy for hours.

Choose either Rings or Lights Out. The computer devises the puzzle, or the gamer may design it himself by placing the game elements around the board where he chooses. If the computer is the challenger, it indicates the fewest possible moves in which the puzzle can be solved.

Rings is an electronic version of the ring-toss game. Single black blocks must be surrounded by ring squares. The puzzle is solved when all black blocks are properly corralled, with no surplus ring squares left over. Do it in the number of moves indicated by the computer and you win the game! It’s trickier than it looks since each button triggers a set pattern of ring movement around the screen, eliminating some and placing others in new locations. It takes strategy and careful planning to find the perfect solution.

Lights Out turns the ring game inside out. Now the arcader eliminates all the ring squares. Once again, the computer tells how many moves are required to solve a puzzle it devises, but you can design the game yourself. In either case, the game starts with three rings on screen. Pressing different buttons eliminates rings in some squares while adding them to others.

The computer keeps track of as many as 32 moves. However, you can continue seeking a solution even after the tally stops, for as long as it takes to solve either of these ingenious stumpers.


M.B. Electronics/$17

Sea Duel pits a destroyer against a submarine in a stirring naval battle, that should please strategy fans. Choose to man either the battleship or the submarine, and let the computer take the other side, or play head-to-head with another enthusiast. This contest of wit and strategic planning is one of the most successful games ever programmed for Microvision. Sea Duel may owe a tip of the hat to the pencil-and-paper version of Battleship; the object is the same in both games, to hit and sink the enemy by firing salvos where you hope the other ship may be. But electronic circuitry has updated this antique pastime to make it a real contest.

The LCD displays a ship (three square blocks) and a submarine (one square block). The player uses the 4-direction movement and firing buttons to move his vessel two spaces and fire two rounds in each of the two movement and firing segments that make up every skirmish. Press the go button to enter the battle plan into the computer when the first segment is completed; then complete the second segment of programming by entering two more moves and firing two additional salvos.

The vessel responds to the commands as the player enters the movements, in a preview of how the action will go in the real battle. If he has other ideas, he can then press the clear button and reprogram that segment. Once he presses the go button, all moves are entered into the computer. When playing a human opponent, pass the Microvision to him so he can program his moves and firing pattern. If playing the computer, the opposing vessel’s movements are automatically programmed.

Sea Duel brings nautical thrills to mini-arcaders

After all moves are entered, press the go button to see Sea Duel do its stuff. The battle occurs by multiple simultaneous movement, displaying the action of both vessels together, even though they were programmed separately. Each vessel maneuvers into the position programmed in the first segment, then fires in the directions entered. Then both ships proceed with the second movement segment and fight the skirmish that was programmed.

The score flashes on screen after the battle. Check to see how much ammunition and fuel is left, then program the next encounter. The game ends when one vessel scores six or more hits against the other, or runs out of fuel.

Sea Duel is every engaging. Since it doesn’t depend on clever graphics for its appeal, it is perfectly suited for Microvision.

Flipper games go pint-sized with M.B.’s pinball


M.B. Electronics/$17

Designing a pinball game for a screen that measures just 1¼-in. on a side must be a test of programming skill.

The gamer chooses to play 9, 7, 5, 3 or 1 ball, at fast or slow speed. The surprise in the game is that he also chooses the size of the paddle, because the ball in this game is batted around the screen by the arcader, rather than shooting from entry slots and bouncing from spinners.

The only ornamentation on the screen is four red circles in a diamond pattern in the center of the field. Serve the ball from your paddle, then use the control knob to keep the ball bouncing off the sides of the walls and the red bumper circles. Score 1 point every time the ball hits a bumper. Hit the same bumper four times and it lights.

This is a rather minimal pinball game. It lacks graphics altogether and could have benefited from a prettier overlay to provide some of the attractive elements arcaders love in pinball machines. However, it’s a good ball and paddle game. The arcader has to be deft-fingered to keep up with it when the ball starts ricocheting between the bumpers, walls and ceiling at top speed.

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