Monday, March 20, 2023

Shoot 'Em-Up Video Game Review: Parsec

Parsec was an interesting horizontal shoot 'em-up video game that combined features of multiple arcade games into a single game. These elements actually worked well, making Parsec one of the most popular games by Texas Instruments.

Parsec was released for the TI-99/4A in 1982. The TI-99/4A was a computer released by Texas Instruments in June 1981. It was an upgrade of the 1979 computer known as the TI-99/4. Together, they were the first 16-bit computers released for the home market.

In 1981, Konami's Scramble and SNK's Vanguard were released into the arcade market. They were the world's first horizontally-scrolling shoot 'em-up games. Another game that was popular at the time was Atari's first arcade game with vector graphics, the 1979 arcade game Lunar Lander.

Texas Instruments took elements of these games, namely the horizontal scrolling of Scramble and Vanguard and the fuel meter of Lunar Lander, to create Parsec. Parsec had sixteen horizontal scrolling levels where a ship would have to shoot at enemy ships and avoid enemy fire as well as rocky terrain. There was also a fuel gauge which made it imperative to fuel the ship at regular intervals. This was accomplished by flying into a fueling tunnel.

One of the best parts of the game was a digitized female voice that acted as the ship's computer. This is optional, but the game is elevated from an average game to a cult classic because of it. The voice would let the pilot know when enemy ships and fueling tunnels are approaching, as well as a countdown that gives the pilot an idea of how long an asteroid belt would last.

Parsec is an excellent game for the TI-99/4A. On a computer that mainly had clones of other games, such as Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Head On, it is great to have an original title. The combining of elements from Vanguard, Scramble, and Lunar Lander gave the game a unique flavor. The digitized computer voice alerting the player of danger and fuel tunnels rises the game to cult classic status. If you ever come across Parsec, I wholeheartedly recommend giving it a play.

Final Verdict:
4 out of 5

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