Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Unobtainium! (Part 2)...


MPI 020 prototype boards

Only a fellow neomaxizoomdweebie (ultimate modern nerd), like me, could fully appreciate something as cool as these prototype expansion boards. Unobtainium at its finest!

- Original photo prints and docs.
- Rev #0 & Rev #1 (both working).
- 35K RAM and option ROM.
- 3-slot expansion. 
- System reset.  Fused.


I have scanned and placed the documentation up on DLH's Commodore Archive. 

I have additional VIC-20 material over on my web site: http://www.geocities.ws/cbm
 
Are you interested in computer history?  Join the irregular regulars Earl Evans, David Greelish, and Carrington Vanston, plus surprise guests, in the show where everything old is news again.  Gather 'round a virtual table where today's talk is about yesterday's computers. Get the skinny from the world of vintage computer hobbyists, collectors, enthusiasts, and old school geeks. They cover modern day vintage tech events, new developments for old hardware, the revival of retro tech, the best of 8 bit culture, and take many strolls down memory lane.  Head on over to http://rcrpodcast.com and explore podcasts, review show notes and be informed of upcoming episodes.  You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

GCE Vectrex


 GCE Vectrex

This obscure, cult, game system is from 1982.  Vectrex was unusual for a couple of reasons: for one, it had its own screen, whereas all other game systems of that time required that you plug them into the TV for display. And secondly, it had a different kind of screen, one that gamers had seen before, in the arcades, displaying games like Asteroids and Tempest: a vector display.  The Vectrex itself was a nice little portable unit, looking quite a lot like the Macintosh that would appear a couple of years later.  Here is a link to my system's serial number registry: http://vectrexmuseum.com/vecsdb/index.php/vectrexes/view/62

The built-in game was MINESTORM and it is widely considered a de facto favorite.  Other original games that are favorable to most include: ARMOR ATTACK; BEDLAM; BERZERK; COSMIC CHASM; FORTRESS OF NARZOD; HYPERCHASE; POLE POSITION; RIPOFF; SCRAMBLE; SPACE WARS; SPIKE; SPINBALL; STAR CASTLE; STAR TREK and WEB WARS.  A top-rated prototype is TOUR DE FRANCE, and ROCKAROIDS is a universally loved homebrew game.

Recommended Accessories:


Dust Cover

This dustcover is custom made.  The manufacturer has made the pattern, thanks to her friend, cut it out by hand, embroidered on her embroidery machine and stitched together on her regular sewing machine. This dustcover is made from soft, black pleather and will wipe clean with just a damp cloth.  The manufacturer has used Snow White thread for the embroidery as she thinks it stands out very well against the black pleather.  I agree and recommend this product and eBay seller.



Light Pen

The original lightpen is a rare accessory for the Vectrex, officially compatible with just three games: Art Master; Melody Master and Animaction.  These games are as rare as the lightpen itself, but demand and prices for the pens have gone up due to increased availability of the lightpen games on several multicarts. As a result of this demand, RecycledGamer began manufacturing reproduction light pens in 2009. They build each lightpen by hand using a custom-designed board and all through-hole components. The pen casing itself is a recycled dry erase marker and the cord is a re-purposed Sega Genesis controller cable.  The quality is good and the price is great.  I highly recommend this shop.


AtariVox+

click to enlarge
The VecVoice was an add on device for the Vectrex.  It would plug into Vectrex controller Port #2 and speak syllables programmed into cartridge.  Three cartridges currently support it:  VERZERK (an enhanced BERZERK); PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM and Y.A.S.I.  The voice sounds robot-like .. and is based on the same technology that went into the Intellivoice and the Odyssey Voice module.  The new AtariVox+ combines both Vectrex VecVox and AtariVox (they both use the SpeakJet chip), and VecVoice emulation. The various modes are selectable from a DIP switch inside.  Maybe only one cartridge uses VecVox, called DEBRIS.


Multicart

This is a 72 game multicart. It includes all of the original Vectrex releases (except for Animaction, because it had RAM in addition to ROM) and a variety of prototypes, homebrew games and demos.  The cartridge is menu based and all of the games are organized in categories (left and right on the joystick select a category, up and down select a game).  It is supplied as an uncased, bare PCB in a labelled anti-static bag. A label to fit an original Vectrex cartridge shell is also included so that you can fit the PCB in a case yourself. The price is very reasonable.  The quality is great, and the shipping is very fast.  I highly recommend this shop.  Here is a video of how to do a cartridge case modification:

Click here for a link to the video.

Recommended Homebrew Games:

Vectrexians and Vector Pilot - Highest quality from Kristof Tuts in Belgium.  Recommended.
 
Click here for a link to the demo video.

Protector and YASI - A two-for-one Defender and Space Invaders cartridge by Alex Herbert.  Recommended.


Verzerk (special order) - A hack of Berzerk, adding speech this time around, with a robotic voice welcoming the player during the attract mode, then states "this is Verzerk". The phrases from the original arcade version of "shoot him", "chicken, fight like a robot", "got you humanoid", etc. are included in this release. The game plays identically to Berzerk though, aside from that and only being for one player.  The attract mode has a rotating display that is pretty much like the "credit disc" that would be included in Protector/Y*A*S*I later, giving credit and web site addresses to Richard Hutchinson (who created the VecVoice and VecVox, which are compatible with this game if played in cartridge form) and Alex Herbert.

Click here for a link to a demo video.

Space Frenzy - A recreation of the Space Fury coin-operated videogame by Sega/Gremlin (circa 1981), along with some speech synthesis that, like Spike, doesn't require an adapter.  Recommended.

 
War of the Worlds - The 1981 Cinematronics classic by Fury Unlimited.  Recommended.

Click here for a link to a demo video.