The latest in Gamasutra's 'History of Gaming' platforms series by Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton analyzes one of the most intriguing console failures of all time, the vector-based Vectrex console, analyzing the 80's console and its rise, fall and legacy.
The distinctive platform gained a cult following after being pulled from the market in 1984, two years after its debut, The two historians explain why one of the Vectrex's most distinctive aspects might have also been one of its shortcomings:
"One obvious liability of the Vectrex is its black and white display. Even in the early 1980s, monochrome was seen as a serious limitation in a game system, no matter how innovative its display method might be. This potential deal-breaker was addressed with heavy gauge, flexible plastic overlays produced for each game. These overlays fit snugly into plastic grooves on the top and bottom in front of the monitor, and featured high quality color printing.
But, as Barton and Loguidice point out, the Vectrex now enjoys one of the finest homebrew development scenes of any vintage system.
"Emulation of the Vectrex platform is robust and well-implemented on computers and select videogame systems. Emulators include M.E.S.S., ParaJVE and VecX, and legal ROM images of the original Vectrex games and certain homebrews are widely available. However, despite the convenience of emulation, the original hardware is really the only way to get an authentic experience. The unique characteristics of the Vectrex's display and overlays, as well as its accessories, simply don't transfer well to a standard PC or console setup.
You can now read the full feature
, which contains the in-depth past, present, and intriguing details of the short-lived but beloved Vectrex (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).