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Reviewed by Darryl B.

Round and round she goes, where she stops and pukes, nobody knows

Ok, so Bedlam's spinning effect (I'll get to that later) isn't that bad -- plus I paraphrased -- but it might make your eyes hurt.

Aside from flat-out copying some popular game -- as there's been approximately five million clones of Pac-Man, Breakout, and Space Invaders games ALONE (ok, so I'm just flat-out making that one up just out of thin air) -- there's also good ol' reverse engineering, where you take a certain popular game, change a few aspects of it around, and presto, you've got a new game, like the arcade hit of Star Castle becoming Yars' Revenge for the Atari 2600.

And, with Atari not porting it's vector games to the Vectrex (why the hell didn't they DO that?), sole Vectrex games company GCE HAD to bring Tempest to their console. So, Bedlam was born.

Being altered from a game where a player was supposed to attack and invade castles instead (hmmm, is that Star Castle again?), this time around, rather than being along the edges of levels in Tempest, your ship is in the center, and all kinds of stuff flies towards YOU. Your enemies range from dumb drone ships that fly towards you without stopping, ones that will stop in their tracks once you face them ( coward , as the Williams Sinistar would say), others that will start circling around you if they get too close (see photo of the x-shaped ship very close to the player's), and a ship that has very powerful shields that can't be destroyed, but can only be pushed back once you shoot it. Nice...

Since the Vectrex didn't have a huge screen, the graphics weren't bad, but a couple of ships were hard to tell apart (I'll get to this later). The levels themselves were big, nice geometric shapes though, and the controls worked great, although the sound effects weren't the greatest, just a series of blips and bleeps and all, mostly, with just a slight chance of pitch.

Unfortunately, quite a few things prevented this from being a pretty good game, one of which was a lack of depth in difficulty levels like in Tempest, as Tempest's difficulty would increase every 17 levels (i. e. the color would change, denoting the arrival of Pulsars on level 17, invisible levels, and other real fun stuff as well). Here the player will only get a fourth of that number before the level difficulty increases, which the levels start collapsing then, which you have to shoot out the points of the levels to keep the ships at bay; if they collapse too much, once a ship emerges, they could be right on top of you by then, and it could be too late to hit the Fast Rotate button to swing your ship around to shoot and destroy them (unless it's that one ship with the powerful shields). Can you say claustrophobic , boys and girls? (Reminds me, the indestructible colony ship with shields and the one that encircles you look almost exactly the same at a glance, which one is deadly, the other one fairly harmless [none of the ships shoot at you, after all, unlike in Tempest], and if the latter turns out to be on your tail, it can be too late then. The designs should have been changed just a little to tell them apart better, in my opinion.)

Worse yet, though, is a really miserable glitch that involves your Zap button, which is a once per round feature that will SUPPOSEDLY wipe out all ships on the screen: unfortunately, if there's a lot of ships onscreen, and you press that button while you're moving, poof, they're still there afterwards; what the hell? So when that happens, it's best to stay still and let the ships get as close as possible while not moving, which, once you let them have it then, that usually works. Sheesh. Was this game playtested? I really don't see why that glitch could NOT have been missed, much less fixed, but then, with the video game crash happening the year that this was released, and the Vectrex was in the process of losing it's over $30 million at the end, they probably just shipped it out the door as quickly as possible, I assume.

So, unless you liked Tempest, but really sucked at it, this game rates about a C+. It's a fairly rare Vectrex game today, so I wouldn't pay too much for it, as it will wear thin after a while, especially once the levels start rotating around...literally I didn't need Dramamine for this back in the day, but I DID have to ask mom what I could do for my achy eyes, which she introduced me to cutting slices of cucumbers and putting one on each eyelid; yowtch.

Until Christopher Tumber reappears and either makes more copies of Tsunami/Vix, or allows Vectrex cart maker Mark Shaker to produce it, we're out of luck as far as playing Tempest on that console, since Tsunami was his version of Tempest, but he seems to have disappeared off the internet , as a post I read said somewhere.

And that bites far more than going around and around in circles.