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Vectrex Redux (surely that's been used elsewhere...)

Ron Alpert, Blogger

March 25, 2008

4 Min Read

  Man, it is a slow day. Perforce is crawwwwwwling since I have walked in (hours ago!) and until it finishes updating, I can't really get much done. This is unusual, but after last week's crunch, it fuels my lethargy..

  Things are alright, our game has been on the public's tongue for a bit over a week (and change?) now, since there's not been quite so much of a media blitz it is sort of quiet mostly - I would imagine that will be different down the road, as usual. Anyway it is certainly interesting (in both good and bad ways) to watch the public reception to the announcement, and the initial articles.. too bad no one leaked any information about the PIRATE NINJA SPACE VIXEN levels in our game yet, oh well.

  In the meantime, as usual I have loads and loads of things to say about game development (specifically, about finagling management of the unreal engine) but of course I will keep my cards close to my chest. Needless to say, I am sure I am thinking many of the same things that my counterparts in other companies would. It's very interesting, this development cycle, to see how things are handled "for next gen" (i know, can't really call it that anymore!) compared to the PS2 days. So much more overhead, to say the least. Sigh, I remember the times when I'd be meticulously cutting out shadow geometry all over the terrain "oh my GOD when will these times be past us! All will be valhalla!" Oh but y'know. It's always something, it really is.

  I have had a slow trickle of game purchases lately, actually picked up a couple of Sega 32X games if you can believe that (hey, I acquired a unit for free, alright?) There were literally like 2 games for it that I was somewhat interested in looking at, I found them for a song so why not (no haven't even hooked the thing up yet anyway). I still have Bioshock sitting in my bag, as it's been for.. a long time, I really need to play through some more of it but in these times of wayyyyy too many good games, it's hard ot keep one's momentum with nearly anything, at times.

  I got a couple big scores, relatively - mentioned previously, of course. First up at bat would be the Vectrex, old console (with built-in monitor) circa 1983, came out juuuust before the Video Game Crash. An impressive little device, I picked up a multicart for it as well (hey man, I just wanna play the games!) It's pretty sweet! I guess I did not know totally what to expect - I do remember the Atari 2600 era fairly well, and what kinds of games it inspired, so with that all in mind the uniqueness of the Vectrex is quite a treat. Disappointed not to see a straight-up Tempest clone amongst the titles there, but what's included is certainly worth the cash I spent on the whole kit (not too much, anyway...) Yeah, the thing looks neat. The controls feel a little touchy, you can tell this controller was designed in the days before hardcore ergonomic testing - as a result there's certainly a much more raw and pure feeling about the whole ordeal. When I ran it the first time, hearning the strange old-fashioned calliope/carnival music sort of made my heart warm a little (as dorky as that sounds!) The games look cool! They look weird, abstract, Janky. The pacman clone makes you laugh. The.. character game makes you.. scratch your head (game design was just in different places in those days). Scramble is as cool as ever. The little space invaders, Asteroids, and Missile Command knockoffs all look, sound, and play great. The pole position game is just like too cute for words, I guess. (trust me, it's cute with the little powerlines and trees and crape). Okay maybe that was Hyper Chase. You get the picture.

  The Vector display is something else - you turn the thing on (it's a circular knob, how is that for quaint?) and the thing hums at you. The tube glows strangely, like a great-grandparents' TV would.. it looks odd, but still very neat. A lot of games use these small tiny specks (for stars, bullets, whatever) that just look like glowing bits of too-bright magnesium. It really looks unlike anything else you see in gaming, that's for sure...

  Overall the thing is supercool. I wouldn't say I was "glued to it," it's nice to have it here (though it is really just more clutter) but the design and aesthetic from the top-down just makes me feel at home with my roots (my roots-roots!) you know? If anything, it frustrates me because now I want someone to make a similar little desktop MAME cabinet, or something, so I can go even further with it. Wait don't I have a GP32 alrready?

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