Lost Treasures

April 13, 2015

Omega Race

Lost Treasures

I still find it amazing that after all the years that arcade games have been out that there are still true lost treasures lingering. Omega Race, the 1981 Midway arcade game is definitely one of those for a number of reasons.

My first exposure to Omega Race was not at the arcade but rather with the VIC-20. Omega Race was ported from the arcade to only 4 platforms – the Commodore VIC-20, Commodore 64, Colecovision & Atari 2600. Surprisingly, the VIC version is, in my opinion, the absolute best version of the game. Even though the C64 is a much more powerful computer, the VIC-20 version just seems to have the polish and proper “feel to it” that goes beyond any regular explanation. You just have to play it to understand.

Omega Race Screen (2)

Omega Race is clearly inspired by Asteroids, and was Midway’s only vector-based video game. It has a triangle based ship that you control, thrust and fire controls and the ability to move around the screen in a fluid fashion. You get to shoot at ships as well, and that is about where the familiarity ends. A central area on the screen has force fields that you can bounce off of, providing some really fun physics for such an early game.

The Atari 2600 is the worst version of the group and requires a special booster grip add-on to the standard Atari joystick, but you can always get around this by using a Colecovision controller on the 2600. Some say that using a Sega Genesis controller is the best way to play on the VIC-20 and the C64, although for myself I actually spent the majority of my time with the game using one of the world’s worst controllers – the Commodore joystick. Obviously your mileage may vary.

Whether you play this game with a MAME arcade emulator to see what the original fuss is all about, or find a way to play the VIC-20 version as I recommend, you should give Omega Race a try. It is strangely missing from all of the Midway Arcade Collections that have come out over the years even though its tight controls and fun gameplay make it an instant classic and therefore truly worth your time.

Until next time, I’m Syd Bolton your gaming archelogist digging up the lost treasures for you, right here on OMG! Nexus and The OMG! Hour.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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