THE RANT: The first time I saw one of these I was with my old friend Bobby and we went to some fool's house to score weed. As I walked in this pathetic stoner's room my eyes were instantly drawn to this machine he seemed to be playing with total THC induced fury. I was fascinated; The machine looked like an old school Macnintosh computer, but all black, plus the graphics were vector graphics! I'd never seen anything like it. I've always thought vector graphics were cool and had always been disappointed how the classic consoles were never able to faithfully reproduce them. Anyway that stoner fool (I can't even remember his name) didn't seem interseted in my questions regrading his game system; all he wanted was to sell us a pathetically small bag of weed for $25, which we refused. Now, ten years later I've finally scored a Vectrex from ebay and now I get to be the stoner fool sitting in my bedroom in my underwear, doing multiple bong rips and totally immersing myself in old school vector-induced catatonia. I see that life has finally come full circle for me.
This system was truley a victim of the video game crash; A good company with foward looking ideas that never had a chance becasue the leaders in the market screwed it all up for them by rehashing the same crappy formula and thus destroying the industry for everyone. I hear boxed Vectrex systems were selling for under $30. Gotta invent that time machine. There is still a very hard core group of Vectrex followers who support this sytem with near zealot-like fury. Home brew games and multicarts can be found all over the internet.
THE GOOD: Totally awsome little self contained unit. The designers must have had portability in mind becasue even the controller folds away neatly into the bottom of the machine. (The same guy also desgined the Microvision, the very first handheld game machine that took cartridges.) The controller is I beleive the first horizontal game-pad style controller, although it still has a mini-joystick instead of a cross pad, but you can't have everything I guess. I've always like gamepads as opposed to joysticks, just my personal prefrence. It has four buttons and is really easy to use.
THE BAD: Vectrex stuff is expensive; Boxed games are over $20 usually, boxed systems over $100. This might not seem like much compared to getting a new Xbox 360 or something, but I come from the el-cheapo school of console collecting. Anything over $50 is expensive to me, especially some game console that came out 20 years ago. Thus it took me forever to get one of these because I kept getting outbid left and right. I finally got one when the guy had a "buy it now price" of $49.95. There are lots of cool add ons but expect to pay a lot for them too, the light pen (for drawing on the screen) and 3-d glasses usually cost over $100 also.
THE UGLY: My only complaint is that the graphics are in black and white. The games use overlays to simulate color, which looks alright, just seems to me that they could have dropped the extra $50 to have a color display. This thing retailed for about $200, what's another fiffty bones when you're already commited to spending $200? I guess maybe the technology didn't exist back then. The problem is that overlays tend to get lost, or damaged, or don't come with the cart anymore, or when they are included makes the cart cost ten extra dollars. Maybe I should stop being such a miser and accept that my hobby is an expensive one.