This is the companion calculator to Space-N-Counter, one of two game calculators produced by GCE and the forerunners to the Vectrex home arcade console.
You can read more about Space-N-Counter on its creator’s website — Sloperama.com.
Chase-N-Counter was similar but different in the same way that GCE’s game watches were. While similar in design, they were themed differently and the games reflected this — probably a great marketing ploy to sell more product — and each was unique.
The three games in this calculator package, Treasure Trek, Chomp ‘n Chase and Double Cross are ‘inspired’ by other games, much like the watch games and Space-N-Counter games were. But there’s no point reinventing the wheel, so why not?!
The games are surprisingly playable, nearly 40 years after they were created.
I’m not sure what game inspired Treasure Trek — possibly not an arcade game though.
Treasure Trek has eight rooms you can enter (the picture at left) where you have to claim the treasure then leave. Sounds easy enough, except you have to remember the position you were at when you entered the room so you can exit the same way and that you’ll have to avoid falling boulders, firing arrows and slithery snakes.
If that’s not hard enough, you can only get into the first six rooms easily. The final two you have to re-enter rooms you’ve already claimed the treasure in and discover secret squares which provide the entrance to the other rooms. And there’s a new enemy to evade who’s much faster and persistent.
Very challenging and, as mentioned above, still very playable today.
Chomp ‘n Chase
Chomp ‘n Chase was obviously ‘inspired’ by Pacman but the maze is spread out over six screens.
You don’t’ have to eat dots, but do need to get the four power pills which, like the arcade game, give you a short burst of invulnerability to catch the pursuing ghosts.
You don’t have a lot of time to escape the ghosts and the tiny joystick (which needs centring after each move) doesn’t help.
Once you’ve got the power pills you get a bonus then start a new wave.
This game took its inspiration from Frogger and works reasonably well considering the small screen it has to work with.
Only the road part of the game is used (no room for the river, although possibly if there was more RAM available they could have put the river on a second screen but programmatically it would have been a more complex proposition (would have been fun though!). There was only 4k or 5k of RAM available for the entire unit (calculator included) so to have the variety and playability of the games that are available was pretty amazing. Remember that the whole thing was programmed by punching machine code directly into a chip programmer, not using a computer.
This game gets harder with faster cars and, again, the joystick can cause some issues when you’re trying to move quickly!
Like Space-N-Counter, this is a rare find and while it’s still possible to find these boxed and unused the prices are high, several hundred dollars. The design is unique, though, and the games very playable, although the joystick isn’t quite as useful as buttons may have been on this particular console.
While you’re waiting to find one for a reasonable price, you can read the manual here, to give you a taste.