Vectrex 101: A Beginners Guide
Released in the United States in November of 1982, the Vectrex would only last for two short years, and even less time in foreign markets. But in that time, the machine would develop a cult following that has helped spawn one of the most creative homebrew communities for any console. The Vectrex is another example of what the video game community lost in the video game crash of 1983, and in this case, it looks like the public really missed out.
- Development of the “Mini-Arcade” by Smith Engineering would begin in Spring of 1981, which is later renamed to Vectrex.
- General Consumer Electric (GCE) licenses the Vectrex concept.
- Vectrex releases in the United States on November, 1982, at $199.
- Milton Bradley acquires GCE in Spring 1983, drops the price to $150.
- The Vectrex launches in Europe May 1983, and in Japan under the name Bandai Vectrex Kousokusen in June 1983.
- March 1984, European production of the Vectrex stops.
- Hasbro buys Milton Bradley in Summer of 1983 and begins phasing out the Vectrex.
- The Vectrex officially dies in the United States in December 1984.
- In 1988, Smith Engineering tries to remake the Vectrex as a handheld, but the idea is scrapped due to GameBoy’s impending release.
- See print advertisement
See the Vectrex in Action
MAKE Magazine did a nice little video to get everyone acquainted with the Vectrex
- One of the first consoles to feature a boot screen.
- The Vectrex was the only real attempt to bring vector graphics to the home audience via a vector monitor.
- This is the first console to feature 3D.
- It was also the first truly portable home console, since everything required to play was included.
- Unfortunately, the video game crash of 1983 brought about the early demise of this console.
- The CPU is a Motorola 68A09, with a speed of around 1.5 Mhz. It features 1 KB RAM and 8 KB ROM.
- The CRT is a monochrome Samsung 240RB40. It measures 9¾ x 11½ x 14½ inches.
- Color is handled by the screen overlays that would come packaged with games.
- The audio is handled by a General Instrument’s AY-3-8912, and features a 3” built-in speaker.
- The entire console weighs about 15 lbs.
- Console has everything, including CRT and built in controllers, required to play.
- Features a pack-in game, Minestorm.
- Was the only console to bring vector graphics to the home market at a time when many of the top arcade games were done in vector graphics.
- Has an extremely active, loyal, and old homebrew community, which has produced multiple emulators, entirely new games, and designed their own peripherals for use on the Vectrex. The available game library has effectively doubled in size in the last 15 years.
- The official game library isn’t very big, and six of the official games require one or the other peripheral.
- Screen overlays must be provided for any sort of color.
- A lack of shielding between the CRT and audio wires causes a buzzing sound in earlier models.
- The pack-in game, Minestorm, has a tendency to crash at level 13. If it does make it past that, the game starts acting weird.
- Because the console is built into the CRT, doing internal repairs can be dangerous.
- A Vectrex cannot be connected to a normal television, even if the CRT is nonfunctional.
|Vectrex 3D Imager
The Vectrex 3D Imager was the first 3D imaging peripheral ever offered on a console, predating the SegaScope 3D. Three official games were built for it, though a fourth official game was never released.
Read More Info about the 3D Imager
Check eBay for the 3D Imager
The VT3600 Lightpen was a light pen designed for usage as a controller in three officially released games. Several other official programs were in the works, though they were never released, though one prototype, Mail Plane, has found its way into the wild. Unfortunately, they can sell for as much as $250 on eBay in complete condition. There are many fans of the system that have made their own to save some case (see below in Hacks & Mods section)
Read More info about the Light Pen
Check eBay for the Light Pen
Hacks & Mods
- Use a Playstation Controller with the Vectrex
- How to Create a Vectex Overlay
- Building Your Own Vectrex 3D Goggles
- Make Your Own Vectrex Lightpen
- Bringing the Full Arcade Feel with Great Artwork
- VECX is a Vectrex emulator specifically for the PC, Mac, and Linux, designed by Valavan Manohararajah. It utilizes Direct X, and the source code is freely available online. It can be found at www.valavan.net. VECX has also been ported to other consoles, including the Xbox.
- PSPVE is a port of VECX to work on the PSP.
- ParaJVE is a Vectrex emulator that utilizes Java, designed by Franck Chevassu. It has been designed for usage on the PC, Mac, and Lynux, though Lynux currently experiences problems. It can be found at vectrex-emu.blogspot.com.
- DVE, or DOS Vectrex Emulator, was the first Vectrex emulator. It was built specifically for DOS, though it can run on Windows. It was originally designed by Keith Wilkins, and then edited heavily by Christopher Salomon. It can be found at www.arcadeathome.com.
- There are also Vectrex emulators for the GP32X(GP32Vecx and VecxGP ) and the Nintendo DS(VectxDS).
- The MESS emulator will also emulate Vectrex games
- Vectrex collecting isn’t exactly for the mainsteam budget collector, but it’s not out of reach.
- Since they have a strong collector community and are a bit of novelty item, Vectrex machines can go for about $50 – $150 on eBay depending on the condition and how many games a lot includes.
- While some games can exceed $50, most Vectrex games will go for $10 – $30 on eBay