Infobox CVG system
title = Vectrex
logo =

manufacturer = Smith Engineering
type = Video game console
generation = Second generation
lifespan = vgrelease|North America|NA|November 1982
vgrelease|European Union|EU|May 1983

CPU = Motorola MC68A09 @ 1.5 MHz
media = ROM cartridge
controllers = Two
onlineservice =
The Vectrex is an 8-bit video game console that was developed by Western Technologies/Smith Engineering. It was licensed and distributed first by General Consumer Electric (GCE), and then by Milton Bradley Company after their purchase of GCE. It was released in November 1982 at a retail price of $199, as Milton Bradley took over international marketing the price dropped to $150 and then $100 shortly before the video game crash of 1983 [cite book |last=Forster |first=Winnie |authorlink=Winnie Forster |title=The encyclopedia of consoles, handhelds & home computers 1972 - 2005 |year=2005 |publisher=GAMEPLAN |isbn=3-00-015359-4|pages=pp. 54] . The Vectrex exited the market in early 1984.

Unlike other video game consoles, which connected to televisions and rendered raster graphics, the Vectrex has an integrated vector monitor which displays vector graphics. The monochrome Vectrex uses screen overlays to give the illusion of color. At the time, many of the most popular arcade games used vector displays, and GCE was looking to set themselves apart from the pack by selling high-quality versions of games such as "Space Wars" and "Armor Attack".

Vectrex comes with a built in game, the " Asteroids"-like "Minestorm". Two peripherals were also available for the Vectrex, a light pen and a 3D imager.

The Vectrex was also released in Japan under the name Bandai Vectrex Kousokusen.

ystem features and innovations

The Vectrex was the first system to offer a 3D peripheral (the Vectrex 3D Imager), predating the Sega Master System's SegaScope 3D by about six years.Citation
last = Worley
first = Joyce
title = Farewell To Vectrex
newspaper = Electronic Games
pages = 82-84
year = 1984
date = September
] Also, early units had a very audible "buzzing" from the built-in speaker that would change as graphics were generated on screen. This was due to a lack of shielding between the built-in CRT and the speaker wiring and was eventually resolved in later production models.Fact|date=March 2008 This idiosyncrasy had become a familiar characteristic of the machine.

Several companies offered or included Vectrex software in their products or promotions. The liquor company Mr. Boston gave out a limited number of customized cartridges of Clean Sweep. The box had a Mr. Boston sticker on it. The overlay was basically the regular Clean Sweep overlay with the Mr. Boston name, logo, and % proof/copyright info running up either side. The game itself had custom text, and the player controlled a top hat rather than a vacuum.Fact|date=March 2008

Some of the Vectrex's games featured unusual qualities or innovations, and new games are still being produced today by homebrew video game programmers.

The game built into the Vectrex, "Minestorm", would crash at level 13. However, on some machines the game would continue much farther, with levels containing very unusual characteristics. The game would come to an ultimate end at its highest level, in which more mines were laid than would hatch. Consumers who complained to the company about the crash at the 13th level received a replacement cartridge in the mail. Entitled "MineStorm II", it was the fixed version of the Vectrex's built in game. However, not many wrote to the company about it, making "MineStorm II" one of the rarest cartridges for the Vectrex system.Fact|date=March 2008

Technical specifications

Circuit Board

*CPU : Motorola 68A09 @ 1.5 MHz
*RAM: 1 KB (two 4-bit 2114 chips)
*ROM: 8 KB (one 8-bit 2363 chip)


*Sound: General Instruments AY-3-8912
*3" electrodynamic paper cone speaker


The cathode ray tube was a Samsung model 240RB40 monochrome unit measuring 9 x 11 inches, displaying a picture of 240 mm diagonal. A vector display such as the Vectrex does not require a special tube, and differs only in the control circuits. Rather than use sawtooth waves to divert the internal electron beam in a raster pattern, digital-to-analog converters drove the horizontal and vertical deflection magnets. The high-voltage transformers and tube remained the same as a television. Such technology was already established by arcade games such as "Asteroids".

The Vectrex did not have any luminance control, but rather brightness was adjusted by drawing some lines more frequently than others.Fact|date=March 2008

Screen upgrades were hindered by the cost of redesigning the analog circuits.Fact|date=February 2007 Likewise it was impossible to connect the Vectrex to a home television.

3D Imager

The 3-D imager spins a disk which is half black and half colored bands that radiate from the centre (usually red, green and blue) between the viewer's eyes and the vectrex screen. The Vectrex is synchronized to the rotation of the disk (or vice versa) and draws vectors corresponding to a particular color and/or a particular eye. Therefore only one eye will see the vectrex screen and its associated images (or color) at any one time while the other will see nothing.Fact|date=March 2008

A single object that does not lie on the plane of the monitor ("i.e.", in front of or into the monitor) is drawn at least twice to provide information for each eye. The distance between the duplicate images and whether the right eye image or the left eye image is drawn first will determine where the object will appear to "be" in 3-D space. The 3-D illusion is also enhanced by adjusting the brightness of the object (dimming objects in the background). Spinning the disk at a high enough speed will fool the viewer's eyes/brain into thinking that the multiple images it is seeing are two different views of the same object. This creates the impression of 3-D and color.Fact|date=March 2008

upported games

*3D Minestorm
*3D Crazy Coaster
*3D Narrow Escape
*3D Pole Position (not released)
*3D Lord of the Robots (homebrew)

creenshot/overlay gallery

Below are an artist's impression of some of the overlays that shipped with Vectrex games. Overlays are thin films of acetate which are inserted in front of the Vectrex screen to color the screen. These images were produced by an emulator; it is impossible to recreate the quality of a vector display on a web page. Actual displays have very bright, fine lines without jagged edges. Overlays, although static, can be more vivid than a comparable computer display because of the wider available palette of colors in the printing process as compared to those available in computer displays of the time.

List of game titles

Original (1982-83)

*"Armor Attack"
*"Clean Sweep" (aka "Mr. Boston")
*"Cosmic Chasm"
*"Spinball" (aka "Flipper Pinball")
*"Fortress of Narzod"
*"Heads Up" (aka "Soccer Football")
*"Polar Rescue"
*"Pole Position"
*"Solar Quest"
*"Space Wars"
*"Star Castle"
*"" (aka "Star Ship")
*"Web Wars" (aka "Web Warp")

Required add-on accessory hardware:

*"3D Crazy Coaster"
*"3D MineStorm"
*"3D Narrow Escape"
*"AnimAction" (requires light pen)
*"Art Master" (requires light pen)
*"Melody Master" (requires light pen)

Unreleased prototypes

*"Berzerk II"
*"Cube Quest"
*"Dark Tower"
*"Pitcher's Duel"
*"Tour De France"
*"3D Pole Position"
*"Engine Analyzer" (requires light pen)
*"Melody Master II" (requires light pen)
*"Mail Plane" (requires light pen)



*"Vector Vaders (1996)"
*"Patriots (1996)"
*"All Good Things (1996)"
*"Spike Hoppin' (1996)"


*"Omega Chase Deluxe" (new title developed in 1998, based on "Omega Race")
*"Vecmania (1998)"


*"Moon Lander" (new title developed in 2000, based on Lunar Lander)




*"Gravitrex" (new title developed in 2002, based on Gravitar)
*"Tsunami/VIX" (new title (two games) developed in 2002, based on Tempest and QIX)
*"Vec Sports Boxing"


*"Protector" (new title developed in 2003)
*"War of the Robots" (new title developed in 2003)
*"Yasi" (new title developed in 2003)


*"I, Cyborg" (new title developed in 2004)
*"Revector" (new title developed in 2004)
*"Thrust" (new title developed in 2004)


*"Debris" (new title developed in 2005)
*"Nebula Commander" (new title developed in 2005)


*"Logo" (New Title Released February 2006)
*"Space Frenzy" (New Title Released March 2006)
*"Colorclash" (New Title Released May 2006)
*"Star Sling" (New Title Released May 2006)
*"3D Scape cart" (New Title Released June 2006)
*"Vector 21" (New Title Released April 2006)
*"Spike's Circus" (New Title Released August 2006)
*"3D Lord of the Robots" (New Title Released October 2006)


*"City bomber" (New Title Released October 2007)
*"Vectoblox" (New Title Released November 2007)


*"Vectrexians" (New Title Released March 2008)


External links

* [ Vectrex Resource Center]
* [ Vectrex News]
* [ Vectrex Portal]
* [ Spike's Big Vectrex Page] Vectrex portal, recent games/projects/news, information archive
* [ Vectrex infosite] News, manuals, reviews, screenshots, faqs, scanned manuals, scanned boxes and more.
* [ Vectrex Game Database] great source of games and screenshots
* [ ParaJVE: Vectrex Emulator for Windows / Linux / Mac] written in Java5
* [ Vecx: Vectrex Emulator for Windows] by Valavan Manohararajah
* [ Port of Vecx to Xbox]
* [ The Dot Eaters article] featuring a history of the Vectrex
* [ Gamasutra's "A History of Gaming Platforms"] - The Vectrex
* [ Vectrex Information Resource] British website which hosts information about the Vectrex not found elsewhere. Includes manuals, documents, reviews, patents and more.
* [ Gameply footage from the Bandai Vectrex Kousokusen]

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