High school is usually a fairly pivotal time in most peoples' lives: it's (theoretically) one of their last "big steps" to take in life before they go to college so they can enroll in what is supposed to be training for what they want to do for the rest of their life, and move along with (or end) friendships and such on one of the later journeys of life.Granted, poetic license intro crap aside (and to sum up), for a lot of people though, the first two years of the place (freshman and sophomore) usually suck in general, whereas the junior and senior years are usually a vast improvement (hopefully), if not good, even.
My freshman year of 1984 sucked due to some enemies, marching band (in the hot, humid Houston weather) with the last year I ever played my trombone (as I was tired of it), and attending a big, strange place full of kids that were bigger than me...some a bit scary too.
However, that was also the year I got my Vectrex though -- on July 30 (yes, I know the exact date) -- during the Video Game Crash, which was one of the good things then (even though this isn't really related to high school).
The Vectrex, Phase 1: 1983-1988Edit
Even though this city has its ups and downs, Houston, Texas was a good place to live during the arcade and home video game boom, as there were plenty of places to play games, as we had a ton of game rooms and stores that sold the home versions of the stuff. I could literally walk to just the end of the block to the corner store (still there) to play arcade games (not there any more), and shops that sold home games and systems weren't a whole lot further away either...just a brief bike [or parental-driven car] ride away.
Due to the Crash, the Vectrex' price dropped in order to try to stay competitive with other gaming systems. Even though my local Toys 'r Us had its price down to $50 U. S., this was still not that great of a news item for a poor kid like myself.
Unfortunately at one point where me and a friend of mine were considering purchasing our own units -- as I had played them plenty in in-store displays and always liked many of their arcade vector cousins -- I received a fateful phone call one day from him saying "Javaharian (note: a friend of his that I'm unsure of the correct spelling of his name) just got his and they said they had already sold three of them that morning", so we'd better get ours then.So, with pretty much the last of my money that I had in general then, I went out with my friend to get our machines. I bought Scramble with mine, he bought the unique Cosmic Chasm, which I would later get to borrow and play from him for a bit later.
Again, being poor, I wasn't able to get a lot of games for it, and I didn't even have very good experience with them either (perhaps the blame of it could be from my blah freshman year of high school?): Clean Sweep would bottom out after several levels for some reason, never getting any harder; Star Hawk, which I enjoyed in the arcades, just wasn't any fun with the smaller Vectrex screen and I was bored of within an hour (again, being poor, I could only play a game of it here and there in the arcade, never realizing that long-term it would get boring after several plays in a row [in my opinion]!); Solar Quest was ok, Berzerk didn't hold up to the original, and the Atari 2600 version was better, sadly. At least Scramble was a classic for the system, but being good at the arcade original, there was only so many times you could go through the same levels over and over again.Then as GCE sold our names around for those who sent in our registration cards (or at least I assume), many of us received in the mail months later a Vectrex close-out sale newsletter from Electronics Direct. Many games were only $10. I got Bedlam, the "reverse Tempest" of the system, which wasn't bad, but needed more screens per level. People would freak when the levels started rotating, heh heh.
Then, one night in 1988 brought about an oddity when me and a friend of mine went to Toys 'r Us for something and they (somehow) had some Vectrex overstock for only a quarter (?). This might have been due to the hopeful re-release of the system as a handheld unit, although poor Jay Smith's dream got squashed once they found out about the Nintendo GameBoy coming out soon, so that idea got trashed.
All they had was Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which I said was fairly ok, but I almost didn't get it. "Well all you have to do is play it four times and then you'll have gotten your money's worth!" my friend said. So, yeah, I bought that, and ended up playing it more than four times :)
I had also had a friend of mine come over several times during the summer after graduating from high school before I would go off to college, which would probably be the end of our friendship then, as that happens a lot in peoples' lives in general (although luckily it wasn't in this case). One day he asked what that thing was underneath the pillowcase sitting right next to my bed. "It's a Vectrex", I told him. "What's a Vectrex?" Wow, he really regretted not asking that question a bit sooner, as he liked his newly-found video game toy.
And that was pretty much it for the first phase of my Vectrex collecting; there was a time or two I took it over to a friend's house, and others played with it here, but there was nothing really substantial going on with it other than that.
Phase 2: 1989-July, 2004 (game on pause)Edit
No, not quite "game over", but you'll see what I mean...
Backing up to the Crash, every Vectrex owner knows what happened then: our beloved machines were discontinued in 1984. Only 30 games/utility programs were released for it originally. There was nothing to do with the machine if you were bored with it, as you either let it sit around, you could keep on playing the same games over and over (if you didn't get bored with them, which was unlikely), you put it away, or God forbid you were to actually sell it.
Yes, I didn't touch my Vectrex for 15 years, sadly, as I'm pretty good with games in general (even Mine Storm I could get to level 89 on), and I couldn't keep on playing the few games I had for it over and over again. I had heard about this "homebrew" thing at some point in 1998 when I had started looking up some of this stuff for it online to get back into one day, but it was just more of a curiosity thing for the time being, and nothing really serious, until...
Then, in 2004, my tv bit the dust. Sure, televisions here in the States have been cheap since probably the 1970s, but when you weren't working like I wasn't at the time, an unnecessary expense isn't worth bothering with. I got my Vectrex out due to boredom, which the same ol' games didn't keep my attention for long.
Phase 3: August, 2004 - present (2011)Edit
However, by August I was able to snag Vecmania, which really saved me for a bit, with its nine games included.I've since then acquired 17 more homebrewed cartridges (at the time of this original writing), most of which have been compilations to get the most of my money's worth (which those 13 cartridges total over 30 games in all) through lean times (with Atari 2600, Sega Genesis/32X/CD, and Atari 7800 collecting on hold, which are all my other consoles as of now, not including some handhelds, a Jakks tv unit and a few other odds and ends). Unfortunately as I missed out on the Light Pen and 3D Imager originally, likewise I didn't hear about the limited edition Tsunami/VIX until a few years too late, but I was able to grab other limited editions of I, Cyborg, 3D Sector-X, Continuum, Vector and Royal 21 though (as we all miss out on things here and there, unfortunately). Maybe some day I’ll still be able to get that Tempest/Qix clone...especially since I was finally able to get my hands on Spike after an over 20 year wait, and here in early 2011 I hope to acquire more of the original GCE games (finally!) as well as more homebrews.
Phase 4? The year 20__?Edit
Due to Vectrex online documentation, it is easy to study and possibly become a homebrew programmer for those that have certain game ideas that they want to try out. I definitely want to give that a shot, although not being a tech person, I'm pretty sure I won't be able to get through anything other than a few graphics demos (I have an idea for one, which is how I plan to start out this little experiment), let alone entire games. Sure, anything's possible, and I don't like to make excuses, but I doubt I'll be able to figure out something such as this. Granted, none of this is in the cards now, as I'd need to be living on my own again without a lot of noise and distractions so I can try poring over info, so that is a bit of a moot point for now as it is.Vectrex has yet to see. Nothing may ever come of it as it is, so I could be stuck in "Phase 3" of the Vectrex part of my life until my ultimate demise. However, due to an idea from someone on my vector gaming forums, the International Play Your Vectrex Day was born, which currently has 18 participants (the dust has yet to totally settle on the Day as I write this!), about 40 page edits in a little over 36 hours of happening, along with two videos celebrating it and a lot of pictures. So I'm happy with that.
So, all of this is good enough for me anyway, even if I don't come out with my own games, as others are carrying the torch for that...and many of which are doing a damn fine job of it too.
-Darrylb500 06:37, January 20, 2011 (UTC) (with some additions later) Head admin
Original GCE gamesEdit
Modern day homebrewsEdit
- 3D Sector-X
- All Good Things
- Gravitrex Plus
- I, Cyborg
- Moon Lander
- Nebula Commander
- Royal 21
- Space Frenzy
- Spike Hoppin'
- Vector 21
- Vector Vaders
- All Vectrex materials (Passport/paperwork)
- Mateos Vectrex Burner-Dumper (2)
- Mateos Vectrex Rewritable Multigame Cart (2)
- Vectrex box (still in damn good condition)
- Vectrex 25th anniversary tribute presentation I did (complete with a couple of typos; whups)
- "Surviving The (Video Game) Crash: An Old Dude's Tale" (brief mention of getting the Vectrex for cheap back then)
- Atari and the Vectrex feature I wrote in regards to several Atari-cloned homebrews
- My vector gaming forums