Monday 15th August - Berzerk Arena - The first ever Vectrex network!
So what exactly is Berzerk Arena? This is a Vectrex game demo from Alex Herbert written in 2005. It is a one or two player game,
but the big difference with any other Vectrex game is that in two player mode, it is played with two Vectrex consoles - yes a
Vectrex network! A four signal cable (pins 1, 2, 3, and 8, connected to pins 1, 2, 3 and 8 respectively) is connected between
the player 2 port of each Vectrex. Once connected and a serial communication established between each Vectrex, each player is able to
play against each other in real time.
Based on the theme of Berzerk, this is Berzerk in a 3D maze and with only the player robots pitched against each other. Evil Otto occasionally jumps
around the corridors and if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time you are dead.
You must search out the other play and shoot him. There are various objects that can assist you. You can find heat sinking missiles, and
health replenishing objects.
The video shows the displays for two connected Vectrex consoles. Obviously I am primarily controlling my player on the Vectrex on the
left. I move to the other Vectrex later in the game just to demo the visuals seen by each player.
At the beginning you see that once a link is established (by pressing button two on either Vectrex) you can choose the arena you want to
play in, and the number of lives each player is to have. Alex, has mixed Vectors with raster, and in this program you can step through the
different arenas which are displayed in 2D top-down perspective via raster style graphics (which is no mean feat on the Vectrex!).
Once you have selected the arena and number of lives you can press button 1 to start and you will be placed into the arena and faced with
a 3D perspective (think 3D MonsterMaze on the Zx81). You control your player movement through the many corridors of the arena using the
joystick and buttons 2 and 4 to rotate your view and look left or right. Each player has an audible sonar. As you get closer to the other
player, the audio pips of the sonar ring closer together and more frequently.
If you jump to time stamp 1:30 of the video you see an object which if you run into behaves like a portal and automatically puts you somewhere else
in the arena.
At time stamp 1:55 you see an object which if run into gives you a heat sinking missile.
At time stamp 2:45 you see Evil Otto jumping away into the distance.
At time stamp 3:00 I am chasing Otto, and as he runs into the corridor where the player two is. You see from the right Vectrex the
perspective of Otto for player two.
At time stamp 3:03 Otto kills player two.
The game jumps back to a random position in the arena, and by chance it is in the vicinity of the other player.
From time stamp 3:10 to 3:40 I am just experimenting with the left Vectrex controller to see how I appear to player 2 on the right
Vectrex. As you can see the communication between the two Vectrex consoles is really real time. In fact the communications are taking
place at around 9600 baud rate.
At time stamp 3:35 I am taking shots at the other player. Each shot reduces his health and eventually he loses a life.
This really is a fascinating game demo which is polished enough that it can be considered a complete game. You can get the ROM binary
for this game by downloading Malban's Vectrex Integrated Development Environment (VIDE)
software. Malban has even provided some instructions on how to make the cable and he has diss-assembled some of the existing test binaries in case other programmers wanted to
try writing new games using Veclink.
Donít have two Vectrex consoles? Well, when playing solo, the computer player can still be a challenge to defeat.
But nothing beats winning against player 2 when it is a human :)
Wednesday 10th August - Vectrexagon arrives!
Ok, tools are down at Vectrex.co.uk! Now my Vectrex project delays are being caused by a new infuriatingly addictive Vectrex game...
My copy of Vectrexagon has just arrived in the post. The video literally shows my first game play for the game
straight out of the box. Here I have used a Vector Pilot overlay and dimmed the room lights to achieve pseudo colour.
This game is great! It is simple in concept but really is challenging. You will always end up wanting to have one more try :) If
you're an electronic music fan you'll love the background music which accompanies and changes as you play.
I score this game 4/5.
Any issues? Well despite this game originating from Sweden, the only place you can get it currently, is from is Packrat.
That's not the issue, as Packrat have packged the game well and do quick delivery. The problem is the high price for delivery to
Europe charged by UPS. In total I paid 50USD for the game and to get this game here to the UK. Nevetheless, I still recommend to buy this game.
A new episode of Vectrex radio is now available to listen to. Hosted by Indieseoul and Willie!, these two guys review Polar Rescue and
But even more interesting than that, they interview Chris from Binarystar software about the recently released
Death Chase, some of his other Vectrex home brews including plans for future light gun game releases. It's nice to hear some background about Chris and how he got into programming for theVectrex.
After a brief hiatus I am back to report on news in the Vectrex world! Only time restricts me on my own developments (Selling Mine Storm repro overlays was
keeping me busy); However, keep visiting this page to be the first to catch my new developments - I will be updating more regularly again.
Saturday 11th June - New Mine Storm reproduction overlays ready to ship
Finally, the new batch of repro Mine Storm overlays is here and ready to ship! Please note these overlays are professionally
screen printed and die cut. These should not be confused with the cheaper lower quality homemade ink jet produced overlays that can be found on the internet.
You will find it very difficult to tell the difference from the original Mine Storm overlay. The only give away is the small copyright text on the right side of the
reproduction overlay. This text says reproduction on purpose in order to distinguish it from the original.
For the same postage amount I can post up to two overlays in the same package.
If you would like to purchase a reproduction Mine Storm overlay please email email@example.com stating quantity required and your country.
Wednesday 4th May - New light gun Vectrex games in development
Early Alpha release showing new Light gun game "Ghost Bursters" in operation.
Exciting things are afoot in the world of the Vectrex and this is sure to lead to a new way of interacting with the Vectrex.
Riding on the technical success of his Vectrex light pen game Whack-a-mole, Homebrewer
Chris from BinaryStar Software has very recently shown three
YouTube videos on his experiments of using a SEGA Light
Phaser with an adapter he made for use with some Light gun compatible homebrew games he is making. Surprisingly, the gun seems to
work quite well, and you are not restricted to have to keep the gun close to the screen.
My recommendation is to purchase a Sega Master System gun as soon as possible in preparation for the release of
Chrisís new games. There is no announcement on any of the games availability but it will be reported here as soon as it is known.
Currently the games are in the alpha and beta release stages and are only available to Chrisís testers.
Monday 2nd May - Vectrex.co.uk website access issues
Regular visitors of Vectrex.co.uk may have recently noticed that access has been a bit temperamental. The reason for this is that
in the background I have had to change to a proper web hosting provider (previously the Vectrex domain name just jumped to a free
hosting service provided by my broadband provider). It took a couple of days to allow propagation for the new host details and for the
changes to be updated across the internet. Hopefully, everything is sorted now.
Thursday 14th April - The Definitive Guide to Vectrex Collecting
I've just added a link to "The Definitive Guide to Vectrex Collecting" on my general links page.
That website has been online for more than a year now but it is only, whilst tidying up the links on my website, that I'm now catching up.
Vectrex Fan going by the tag of 50TBRD has created the website and he has done an excellent job.
It's a website which includes all Homebrew released games and hardware. 50TBRD has liased with a number of collectors
to acquire a lot of unique information.
There are comparisons of all versions and variations of each release as well as pictures and information that is
not available anywhere else on the internet.
Also included is a filterable and searchable checklist which can be used as a rarity list or
resource for determining value of various Vectrex products.
Saturday 26th March - Vectrex sound chiming door bell
In the Vectrex Fans Unite Facebook forum, Vectrex fan Chris Romero mentioned about a possibility for a door bell that chimed with Vectrex sounds.
Well, I thought about that, had an old ISD1420 ChipCorder circuit lying around from a previous robot project and had a go at making the
world's first Vectrex chiming door bell :) As a first go, it does exactly what a door bell should do. To be more effective an amplifier circuit would
need to be added, as the current circuit does not really have enough power to drive a speaker direct.
With this circuit I am cheating a bit, I'm using a chip that samples the sound and then plays it back. I know that Vectrex purists would say,
I should have used an actual AY-3-8912 sound chip....
Tuesday 22nd March - Robot Arena beta test review
Iíve been beta testing a Vectrex game called Robot Arena from new Vectrex Home brewer Thomas Sontowski. And oh boy,
what an intense and challenging game it is. You are placed in an arena, and for each level, you are pitted against
various groups and combinations of robot enemies each with different behaviours/movements. Depending on the robot type,
which is either passive or can shoot at you, you can collide with or shoot at, to eliminate them.
Now the game development has reached maturity, Thomas has given me permission to show the game in action.
The game has influences from the 1982 Arcade game Robotron 2084: -
Itís a very fast shooter type game and like Robotron uses a dual-joystick setup (you need two analogue Vectrex controllers).
Fortunately, if you only have a single Vectrex controller the game is still very playable. Although Robot Arena is a completely
different game compared to Alex Herbertís Defender clone known as Protector, the slick graphics and sound of the game make me feel
that the engine underneath, is from the same family as that used for Protector. The fact that I am comparing to Protector is a
huge compliment to Thomas.
Thomas has also used his own text display routines, and the font shown is very arcade like. He has pushed the Vectrex to the limits,
and as such, not all Vectrex consoles can display the text correctly by default. Fortunately this is easily solved by changing a
setting at the beginning of the game and via an options screen.
The game play graphics are in vectors, and they are fast and intense. As the game levels progress, there is a huge amount of
independently moving vector "sprites" on the screen;- Iíve never seen so much screen activity in any other released Vectrex game and
yet Thomas has optimised the display of the graphics and their appearance is flicker free.
By the time you get to level 4, you are in the thick of it, and your poor Vectrex controller will receive much punishment :)
Luckily, although each level is intense, game play in each level is set to a maximum time limit after which you know you can have a
small rest before proceeding to the next level.
Thomas plans to make a cartridge release around April this year. The cartridge will include a built in EEPROM for high score saving
and game options. This is a fantastic first game from a new Vectrex home brewer. I eagerly look forward to the physical release.
Sunday 7th February - Vectrex Radio Audio Podcasts
Are all your senses getting enough Vectrex? Well, since October last year there has been a monthly downloadable radio show all about the Vectrex.
Hosted by Indieseoul and Willie!, these two guys have fun presenting each episode. The shows typically last more than an
hour and a half and cover a variety of Vectrex topics including original released games, homebrews and prototypes.
This, like Kristofís other games is definitely going to be one to have in your Vectrex collection! Itís a 64KB ROM game and as such
is full of little game goodies which extend the play and interest in the game further if you get bored with completing the main mission.
One amusing game option is the choice of player type. Amongst
the different space vehicles to select is a cowboy on a horse! You can also select different backgrounds including one called
West World where the backdrop features cactuses and buildings from the American frontier (see half way through in video).
Kristof kindly granted me permission to share a short video showing this mode in Vector Patrol. But he did say to mention that it
isn't finalised yet and could differ in the final game. Please note as always with the Vectrex, a video of the machine in action
is never able to do it any justice. To really appreciate you need to experience the game on the Vectrex itself and in a dimly lit room.
The game is not due for release yet as it's still being beta tested by a number of testers and Kristof still has some final programming
to do. However a release by mid 2016 seems realisitc.
Tuesday 5th January - Happy New Year!
It was back in January 2008 when I setup this simple website to capture all things Vectrex. Now we are in 2016, and the website
will be in its ninth year - (crikey, that also means Iím nearly nine years older - where did all the time go?).
If any of the previous years are to go by, there will be plenty of developments for the Vectrex to report on in 2016.
For the last couple of years I have been saying that there is a Vectrex renaissance and I still believe this is so.
Vectrex homebrewers seem to come and go in waves. They can be very prolific but then all of a sudden they go quiet for a number of years.
The Vectrex scene is currently fortunate to have input from both homebrewers who are relatively new to the Vectrex scene and some long timers,
so seeing new games on the Vectrex this year is a dead cert.
Last year we saw a whole lot of homebrew developments some already released, some due for release this year. There also appears more
interest for owning Vectrex products too (and its possible to conclude there are new enthusiasts coming to the Vectrex world).
A side effect of the renaissance, is the Vectrex has a new increased desireabily. Using ebay as a price barometer, you can see the
final auction prices steadily increasing, especially over the last couple of years.
I have been doing some early spring cleaning of the website. As part of this, in the last two days Iíve been updating the high
scores page. My apologies to those who have submitted scores nearly a year ago. Basically, I was swamped by the number of submissions,
and in addition the balance of Vectrex life was taking second position to real life. However, I can declare that the high scores
is now up to date. If Iíve missed any submissions, please email again and I will correct the issue.
Finally, I would just like to say thank you to all those Vectrex fans who have contacted me with comments about the website,
scores and Vectrex news. My passion for anything Vectrex makes me want to share information about this wonderful machine to
all that listen. Having dialogue and feedback with like minded Vectrex fans makes the hobby even more of a pleasure.