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2016
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.

Definitely recommended! Go visit the site.

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.

Episodes can be downloaded from vectrexradio.blogspot.co.uk or as free audio podcasts via itunes.

Sunday 24th January - Beta Testing Vector Patrol
Iíve been busy this month with beta testing kristofís Vector Patrol .

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.