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2014
Monday 14th April - YASI Overlays manufactured!
The YASI overlays are finally ready and I hope to pick them up from the screen printers this week. If they look ok, and once I have worked out postage, then I'll be sending an email out to all those on the "interested" list.

Sunday 13th April - New demoscene demo "Very Vectight"
Pex "Mahoney" Tufvesson, normally active in the Commodore 64 demoscene wrote a demo program for the Vectrex and entered it to the "Gubbahelg i Lund II - Isterparty 2014" release party held in Sweden on 11 - 13 April 2014. During the release party, the demo was ranked first in the combined demo competition!

At just over 10KB, the demo uses a combination of bitmap graphics (mostly for the scrolling text) and vectors for various line effects, and all accompanied by Chiptune music. The music is actually recycled, and is the music from the original 1985 Commodore 64 game Thrust, and which around 10 years ago was converted to the Vectrex by Ville Krumlinde in his version of the Thrust game.

The demo looks much better on an actual Vectrex rather than on the YouTube video shown. You can download the demo binary at www.pouet.net.

Sunday 30th March - 80's Magazine scans reviewing the Vectrex
Added two magazine scans from the 80ís. You can find them under the [Documents] tab and selecting "Magazine Scans".

The first scan is of the premier issue of Electronic fun with computers and games from Nov 82. This introduced the US public to the GCE Vectrex and presented mini reviews of the games.

The other magazine is Personal Computer World (PCW). The scan is from the August 83 magazine and presents another Vectrex review. PCW was a British publication, and this was the magazine where I first read about the Vectrex when I was a mere school boy. Iíve been spending a couple of years now trying to get hold of this magazine. However, the few times I did see it on eBay I was always outbid.

I recently learnt that The Cambridge Centre for Computing History have a full archive of computer magazines including PCW. I dropped them an email and despite being very busy they kindly made me the scan. The museum is open 5 days a week, and with plenty of retro computers. I definitely recommend a visit to them if you are in the neighbourhood. Even Sir Clive Sinclair was there in person a few weeks ago!

19th Wednesday March - Controversial game based on Death Race to arrive on Vectrex platform
Exciting times in 2014. I think we are experiencing a Vectrex renaissance! New hardware and new software coming all within the same period. I mentioned a couple of days ago about homebrewer Chris Malcom and his beta release of HEX. Well, heís just shown a screen shot of one of his other games in development.

Called DEATHCHASE, this game is the Vectrex equivalent of the controversial Death Race arcade game from 1976. Controversial? Yes! -at the time. The game was inspired by the 1975 film Death Race 2000 . The player scores points by manoeuvring a car to run over pedestrians that run around on the road. Dead pedestrians turn into tomb stones which can block the passage of the car and this increases the game challenge.

Chris has informed that this game will eventually be released in cartridge form together with another car based game called NOX which has been written by homebrewer James Watt.

Sunday 16th March - New spinner controlled game - HEX
Last week homebrew author Chris Malcom (so far known in the Vectrex world for his Nagoya Attack Beta ) released a Vectrex demo called HEX. It uses joystick/buttons or a spinner/Atari driving controller in port 2. (An Atari driving controller can be plugged into the Vectrex without major modification. All you you need to cut away two small areas on the outside of the Atari connector so it can fit into Vectrex socket).

To me the game feels feels like a cousin of the original Vectrex game Bedlam, but Chris informs that HEX is also inspired by the cross platform game Super Hexagon. In the game the player's ship is in the centre of repeating shrinking hexagons, and you and it must be rotated to point in the direction of an open exit in order to get to the next hexagon.
At the moment the game pattern is fixed but the demo is still very playable. The positive feedback from the Vectrex community for the demo game has prompted Chris to progress the game development further and eventually make a cartridge release. This will include better music and variable patterns and potentially a game overlay (If you have a Vector Pilot overlay this already works very well with the demo!).

You can down load the game demo ROM file from the Vector Gaming or AtariAge forums.

Sunday 9th March - Fun fun fun on the Autobahn - New Vectrex driving mini game!
I'm struggling to keep up with reporting on German home brewer Der Luchs' activities! He's just released another mini game. It's called VECFAHREN and it is a 3D driving game. Like his other mini games, VECFAHREN can be quite unforgiving- you only have one life.

Unusually for a Vectrex game this game is accompanied with music during game play. In addition there is VecVox support.

Der Luch states that he has finished the game and the ROM file can be downloaded directly from his website: www.luchs-soft.de.

Friday 7th March - Rollup, rollup come and get VectrexMad!ís New Fanzine
Sometimes there is too much Vectrex news to put on this website so I typically just make short summaries. Now and then I make much longer reviews and articles for magazines. However, at this moment I am not actively submitting to any publications. Iíve always wanted to have a go at making a fanzine.

This last couple of weeks I found the time to make one! You can download the pdf from here.

To cover the first quarter of this year I have repeated but also expanded on some of this website's news items for the fanzine. There are full reviews of Mateoís burner/dumper and multicart cartridge and Madtronixís 3D imager. I hope you enjoy.

Saturday 22nd February - Mobile game App Flappy Bird arrives on the Vectrex!
Although the computing power of a smart phone is considerably more than the first home computers and games console of the 80ís, quite a few phone game Apps (especially those written by a single author rather than a full software house) fit the ethos of the early 8 bit games i.e. simple graphics and addictive game play. So it is not uncommon to see some of the popular games get ported to the computers and games consoles of yesteryear.

One such game is Flappy Bird. The idea of the game is to fly a bird through a set of oncoming pipes as they scroll across the screen. Control is simple and requires just one finger. One tap flaps the birdís wings causing it to fly up. Gravity pulls the bird down.
The game was released as a free App for iOS and Android phones in May 2013. Having enjoyed great success this game became infamous when it was discontinued only a couple of weeks ago by the author who cited the reason for doing so was that he was worried about the gameís addictiveness. The gameís removal from the digital stores has spawned many copycat versions both for new and old platforms. Already there was a homebrew version for the Sinclair ZX81 and the Atari 2600. Now thereís a version for Vectrex.

Homebrewer Michael Simonds has recently released a free binary download called Veccy Bird for the Vectrex. And although the graphics are of course vector based itís nevertheless a very faithful version.

Veccy Bird is available right now via Dropbox as ROM. ROM file which can be enjoyed in an emulator or on physical Vectrex hardware via a programmable multi-cart or EPROM based cart.

This would be a good game to go onto a Vectrex cartridge compendium of one finger controlled games.

Wednesday 19th February - New Vectrex wraps
Is your Vectrex feeling naked?

Over at www.vectrexwraps.com, Vectrex wrap producer Michele has announced that the printing work for his new YASI, Protector and Scramble wraps has begun, with shipping expected in March. These wraps will cling to the Vectrex and can be removed many times without any residuce left behind. First off, he is giving those who expressed interest back in 2012 the chance to finalise their order.

If you werenít on that pre-order list (i.e. you didnít receive an email recently) then best to get in contact with him directly and as soon as possible. He want's confirmation of order by 28th February!

Full information about the wraps and his contact details can be found on the news page of his website. Interestingly, Michele has announced that every two/three months he aims to release new wraps dedicated to the new and old vectrex games.

The next one scheduled by May 2014 will be for Berzerk.

Prices start of at 20 Euros for one overlay plus postage and packing.

Saturday 16th February - YASI Overlay progress: Reaching the finish line
At the end of last year I contracted a local screen printer to print a batch of YASI overlays.

After a lot of back and forth communication regarding the final art work and testing of different glaze samples I have finally signed off the proof with the printers.

The image on the right shows previous work in progress regarding glaze sample colours. For me it was important that if the surrounding lights were dimmed, the graphics on the Vectrex screen appeared to be in colour with the graphics having the same colour hue as the original Space Invaders (which also used colour overlays to give the impression of colour).

The printers have informed me that they hope to manufacture before the end of this month. This means that all going well I can start shipping the overlays in March. As soon as I have the overlays in my hands Iíll be contacting everyone who emailed me, to inform them of the final price and to invite them to pay if they want to purchase.

Thursday 16th January - New puzzle game/demo for the Vectrex
A new puzzle game/demo binary for the Vectrex has been recently made available to the public, though itís been around since September last year when the game was created for the Coding Compo at the DoReCo-Party 2013, Germany.

Called P1X3L-pushr and written by Alex Kazik with graphics by Retrofan, itís a game based on the same game they had written for the Commodore 64.

The game shows a birds eye view of a floor plan. You must move your player around the floor and push boxes into target areas. When the player is moving forward, the boxes can be pushed, the goal is to move all boxes to the target areas.

There are six floors to complete. At 2K the game is very much a demo and as such lacks sound and after completing all six floors there is nothing further to do.

The game can be downloaded here. For budding game developers not only is the ROM file included but also the full source assembler code.

Sunday 13th January - Vectrex cocktail cabinet
Astute readers of this website will know Iím plodding along with building my full size Vectrex arcade cabinet and you can see intermittent progress updates on my VecCab blog. A far quicker cabinet builder is Minwah of the ukVAC.com forum. He has been very speedy in the building of his Vectrex Cocktail cabinet! (and he has built it from scratch). He started in the summer of last year and in late December published photos of the completed cabinet on the ukVAC.com forum.
What he has achieved is very impressive. Naturally I asked him a lot of questions and he kindly responded with a detailed explanation of the cabinet and permission to show his photos:

"The cabinet is constructed from 18mm MDF, laminated with Formica laminate (matt black and walnut). The only exception is the table top, which is 12mm MDF, with 6mm MDF on top (at the front and back), and 6mm toughened, tinted glass in the middle, to form ~18mm thickness overall. The 12mm MDF is laminated black so that it looks good through the glass. I have used 3/4" textured t-molding to finish the edges.

Inside, the Vectrex remains in its case and is set into a shelf, facing upwards. The front (screen) of the Vectrex is as close to the glass as possible, without de-casing the Vectrex (which I did not want to do). Each side of the cabinet has a handle hole, so the machine can be easily lifted and moved around. One of the handle holes doubles as a cartridge port - which is extended from the port on the Vectrex with a male edge connector / ribbon cable / female edge connector.

The controls are a Sanwa J-Stik (JLW) joystick, and Gold Leaf buttons from Ultimarc. These are interfaced via a small simple circuit to the Vectrex controller port. I cut a cheap PC serial cable in half and modified the plug to fit.

The table top is hinged and can be easily lifted up (once the front lock is unlocked), which can allow changing of overlays, or access to the volume knob. There is a mains power switch on the rear of the cabinet, which I tend to use and leave the Vectrex power switch on. There is a reset button on the front of the cabinet, which requires a slight modification to the Vectrex - ie a pair of wires extending from the internal reset button."




Saturday 4th January - Happy New Year !
Another year has gone and the Vectrex remains an enjoyable pastime for many. This includes collecting, developing and actually playing it!

Looking back over the last year the biggest positive event must have been the release of the Mail Plane game binary to the public. This GCE/MB unreleased game had previously languished in private collectors hands for many years. Thanks to Chris Romero (aka Vectrexer), and a few other generous financial backers, the game is now available for anyone to download and play on their Vectrex. Despite the positives for 2013 there were some negatives too. The biggest negative was to see John Dondzilaís announcement in 2013 that he would no longer be producing cartridges for the Vectrex. Prior to that announcement one could have purchased any of Johnís great games or any specified game binary at a very reasonable price. The hope remains that another person can provide this service.

The expected 2013 release of Warrior by Fury including a professionally made box and overlay had everything for a Vectrex fan to salivate over. Unfortunately for most they did not receive their purchase. Fury has explained that he experienced some production problems with his suppliers, including issues with the quality of the overlay. Fury has now found another overlay supplier and has now promised early 2014 shipping of the game.

I know the potential issues that can arise with screen printed overlays. A couple years back I got a local screen printer to produce Mine Storm and Pole Position overlays. Itís very hard to achieve the quality of the originals but it can be done even if they have to be reprinted as was the case for the Pole Position overlay. That experience did not sour my desire for making new overlays. The end of last year I sought the interest of Vectrex owners for a new overlay for the Space Invaders game YASI. Thankfully there was enough interest to warrant me to put a down-payment for the production of 50 such overlays. This is work in progress, but I hope in the next weeks to report on the progress.

Future Vectrex activity in 2014 looks to be promising. In the last year there have appeared new home brewers to the scene and going on the demos that have already been shown there is much potential for new games. From the already established home brewers there is also great anticipation. Will 2014 be the year for the release of Kristofís Vector Patrol? In addition to Warrior, Fury also has some other games scheduled for release in 2014. Fury also launched a new quarterly magazine called Vectorbolt for Vector Game enthusiasts, with the first issue due this month.

And what of me and my activities? Well, apart from the YASI overlays that I already mentioned, Iím still tinkering with new ideas for the Vectrex. Last year I modified a cheap controller for use with the Vectrex and in the next months I want to give details on how it was done. Iím also still plodding along with the development of my VecCab. Iím hoping that this year that at least the hardware side can be finished and than I can work on the software side. Of course this all depends on my real life work load.

Finally, thank you to all those that have given feedback on my website and to those who I've had many email discussions with concerning the Vectrex. This website is now in its seventh year! I do have Google analytics for this site and the number of visitor hits reported for the last year was again over 11,000 visits which is quite a respectable number considering the Vectrex is believed to have a relatively small fan base. The aim of vectrex.co.uk is to help keep the Vectrex alive by generating interest in it. If you have any news relating to the Vectrex that you think would be of interest to other Vectrex fans I would gladly present it here in this news blog. Also if you have a new high score just let me know. Happy new year to all Vectrex fans!



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