Oh no, an article about how to increase the size of your Vectrex's screen. THIS should be fun! Messing around with either a vector monitor (good luck trying to find one of those), a black and white tv (ditto), or -- God forbid -- a raster monitor (nooooo!). This is going to be technically difficult, I'll have to know all kinds of things, and it can even be flat-out dangerous, due to the possibility of suffering a bad electric shock if I were to touch the wrong thing in my Vectrex if I don't properly discharge it first!
Nope, this is in regards to none of the above, as all you'll need is a few very cheap items and a minute or two to mess around with each game (maybe not even that long) in order to enlarge the playing area of your Vectrex screen...so to speak.
Materials needed/Darrylb500's experiences
All that is needed for this little getup is a magnifying sheet, possibly tape, and something to prop up or hold the sheet with.
First off (and most important), the main thing that is needed in order to magnify the Vectrex screen is an item that is like a cross between a magnifying glass and a sheet of paper called a page magnifier or a fresnel lens. I assume these can be picked up at medical aids-type places, drug stores that carry reading glasses and/or other similar aid places, and online sites that carry them. I was just able to come across two of these (more on that later) by chance, so I don't really know myself. Doing a search for "page magnifier" on the net will result in many hits showing up though, with them usually below $8 U. S. each.
Yes, that's the main thing that is needed, since you'll place it over your Vectrex screen and ta-da!, your games will look bigger, it's (almost) as easy as that. Granted, it's not quite that simple, as you may need a piece of tape at the top to hold it on. This is what I used the first time around when I got the idea when I stol--uhhh, extensively borrowed one of these from my dad back during the Vectrex heyday (what the heck, he had several of them, so he wasn't going to miss one...I don't think). I also taped down a couple of clothespins at the bottom of my Vectrex to keep the magnifier several centimeters away to get a magnifying effect, as having it right against the Vectrex screen won't produce a visible change. Or you could use a couple of pencils that might have become too short after sharpening them too much (does anyone even use pencils any more?). And I could still flip up the magnifier so I could change out my overlays (yes, I used mine, so what?).
Then, years later as I had posted about this in a couple of forums online, I got back into this experiment when my grandfather passed on and my uncle informed us that whatever we wanted out of his and grandma's house (she had passed the year before) we could take it. I ran across a page magnifier and took it, since he didn't exactly need it any more, and that brought about my messing around with this little project again.
This time however, I didn't bother with any clothespins, as this magnifier has kind of a "lip" on the top of it (it might be a good idea to get one that has one), so I just placed it on the top of my Vectrex and weighed it down with a book, as it hung over right in front of the screen, no need to have it positioned at an angle and tape down any clothespins at the bottom so it won't be pressed right against the screen and therefor not magnify anything.
Now the thing is, even though this will make most of your games/the Vectrex screen look bigger for the most part (more on that in a minute), there will be some distortion as a result, usually from the top of the screen, depending on the placement of the magnifier. This will effect how some games will look. The vectors (and probably the few raster bitmapped games, like Color Clash) won't be as clear and sharp with it though, but they will look bigger for the most part. Vector trails from in-game objects happen fairly often as well, and even though I did not extensively turn down the brightness, it did not seem to help for when I did try it out (I also used overlays for most of the games too, also to no avail in toning down this problem). A "prism" kind of effect is also common at times. You also need to sit right in front of your Vectrex, as viewing it from the side will makes distortions stand out (which you probably won't do anyway, but I'm just pointing it out).
Now, most games should seem bigger in scope with the magnifier. Surprisingly though, some do not seem changed at all. Also, if the magnifier is slightly at an angle, some elements might come out seeming squashed even, such as with Berzerk or Spike. If the magnifier is at a slightly different angle when tried out more than once on a game and the magnifier gets moved, various visuals can come out looking different the second time around, as evidenced on VectrexMad!'s web site when he made a blog entry in regards to this subject and quoted me from an e-mail about a swirling effect when a level was completed on Spike Hoppin'. I was not able to replicate this effect again when I started on this write-up a few days before I initially posted this, even though I was using the same magnifier. My guess it was at a slightly different angle than when I originally tried it, so results are going to vary, along with the possibility of what the surface is like on what magnifier is used, as I assume some differ in quality (but then I'm no expert on them).
And speaking of which: with all the entries on this page, they are in regards to the cheaper magnifiers that tends to distort the graphics and such. However, Vector gaming forums member gliptitude once posted about purchasing a more expensive one at $20 (U. S.) that would magnify the screen, yet NOT distort the graphics! Once we are able to get our hands on one of these, we’ll definitely be updating these entries and reflect on how the games look with one, and it’s something for others to keep in mind as well if they are able to pick one of these up.
And one final note before getting to the games: make sure and sign your name in the second to last header in this piece (above Links) if you have tried this out, along with adding games if they are not in this write-up and how they turned out. There's still plenty to add!
Darrylb500 06:56, February 3, 2011 (UTC)
The games/how they rate
- .--. .- -. --.. . .-.--this seems a little bigger, but unfortunately you're getting a TON of distortion. This may come out looking ok with one of those expensive page magnifiers that doesn't distort, though.
- 23 Matches--this is a pretty interesting one, even though the game isn't exactly action-packed or anything. There's a big time prism effect when all the matches are onscreen (although they seem to leap off the screen, so that's a bit engaging), but then it dissipates as the matches do, shifting to the left side of the screen as the matches start running low. Worth a try just to look at it in a different way.
- Abyss--this one level seems a little bigger, but that's about it, as there's not much of a change in perspective. Ho hum.
- Asteroid Cowboy--surprisingly the trails of the asteroids aren't bad and the screen seems a little bigger. Might be a candidate for the more expensive magnifiers that don't distort.
- Bedlam--the screens seem a little bigger, and there's a little bit of distortion when they start collapsing, but there isn't much of a difference either way, not even any trails left behind by enemies or anything of the like. Not really worth the waste of an effort though, I don't think.
- Berzerk--nothing works here; the mazes don't seem bigger, they could have some distortion and you'll see a trail as Evil Otto bounces across the screen. This doesn't do anything for the game at all. NOT RECOMMENDED
- Big Blue--unfortunately the screen doesn't look bigger or anything, but with THE best graphics for the Vectrex you definitely want them bigger. You'd also want the more expensive magnifying sheet that doesn't distort, as if you can make it to the caves then you'll get a bit of the prism effect then, unfortunately.
- Birds of Prey--ouch, this fails on all levels (uh, I mean that in more ways than one :P ). During the first four waves, there are too many vector trails left behind as the birds fly around, making it annoying, although the mother ship during the final wave definitely seems bigger, although if the sheet isn't positioned well you can't see the birds if they are at the very top of the screen. NOT RECOMMENDED
- Breakout--the game definitely seems bigger, but unfortunately there is an effect of a trail following the ball, which is distracting. However, the bricks at the top seem to leap off the screen in somewhat of a 3-D effect, so I'd say this is worth a try.
- Clean Sweep--the prism effect isn't bad, although you can see trails when you and the robbers move. However, the game doesn't seem bigger at all, probably because it takes up most of the screen vertically as it is.
- Continuum--if you've played the flicker-fest that is this game, I'm sure you can guess how this is going to rate. Yep, there's trails and prism effects everywhere, but it's not as bad as I thought it'd be. The game does seem bigger but you're better off trying to concentrate on the (at times) brain-buster puzzles without them being any more in your face than they already are. Using one of the more expensive sheets that doesn't distort would probably be the way to go.
- Cosmic Chasm--nuts, this doesn't seem any bigger at all! Not worth the effort, I don't think.
- Disc Duel Demo--this doesn't do much for the game, except there's kind of a groovy 3-D effect for the back area, like if you're wearing those 3-D glasses in a 3-D movie, which makes the backdrop look like a corridor almost. This is RECOMMENDED just for this effect though, the rest of the game doesn't seem bigger at all.
- Every Day Is Halloween--maybe it's because the bats that you face are so small and/or the Vectrex's screen is tall vertically, but this game does seem bigger. You'll get a lot of streaking with the cheap magnifying sheets but maybe the more expensive ones will work better.
- Galaxy Wars--aside from some streaking with the U. F. O.s and comets that comes with the cheaper magnifying sheet, the screen does seem bigger.
- I, Cyborg--definitely seems bigger in scope. Odd that the Space Frenzy alien doesn't seem to follow suit (see that). But I guess it's because you don't have any canyons to walk through or something on the latter (stage 2 is still the coolest to look at out of pretty much any Vectrex game, period!). VERY RECOMMENDED
- Gravitrex-–WOW does this make a difference! So to get the bad news out of the way, of course there’s the common vector streaking that occurs, but the difference is SO huge, everything seems so much bigger that you can actually see details in your ship! Everything was so tiny earlier that this is quite RECOMMENDED
- Marine Fox--I was surprised there weren't a lot of vector trails with this one. However, the game didn't seem bigger at all, which was disappointing. Oh well, Ariel does look cool and bigger in between lives and all.
- Mine Storm--seeing the Minelayer at the beginning of every level practically jumping off the screen is pretty killer, and you get to see it do different things as it travels down the screen, due to possible distortion as it appears and then disappears, depending on what angle the magnifier is at. Unfortunately there's too much distortion and streaking with all the mines onscreen as they move, so this is only worth it to watch the Minelayer with every life/start of a new level.
- Moon Lander--definitely bigger and your ship and landing areas are much easier to see. There might be a small problem with seeing how much fuel is left though if you can't fix the top of screen distortion that usually occurs. VERY RECOMMENDED
- More Invaders!--it's all big here: a big-time prism effect is seen on the screen as the invaders move but the game seems a bit bigger. So it's 50/50 good/bad on this one, although it'll probably lean more towards the good with the more expensive magnifiers that don't distort.
- Nebula Commander--starbases leave trails/a prism effect, but you should be able to tune them out. This is definitely RECOMMENDED in order to help you see your stats and the little dots (ok, so they're missiles) and such.
- Omega Chase--things definitely seem bigger here (especially the playfield, and that title screen alone looks pretty formidable!), and without a whole lot of distortion, either (just in between screens when the words to the level number floats upwards, and that's about it, surprisingly). Definitely a candidate for those more expensive page magnifiers that don't distort.
- Paratroopers--holy CRAP! This appears to be THE tallest game for the Vectrex with the sheet on!! Granted, there’s some trails that appear with the planes and paratroopers (which I figured would happen), but this is still very worthy of a try just to see how tall this game looks. For games that are just buildings, this one is the skyscraper to tower over all the others! RECOMMENDED
- Patriots Remix--too much of a prism effect on this one, with the streakings of the missiles not helping at all. Skip.
- Pole Position--the game looks great as it is--especially with the overlay--but it has the usual distortions and all, but it would probably look real good with the expensive magnifying sheet that doesn't distort the vectors, as the game seems bigger.
- Patriots III--eh, the game does seem bigger, but when there’s a lot of explosions/stuff going on at once, the flicker gets magnified a bit as well, which isn’t good. It’s ok to try out once though, at least.
- Protector--whoa, this does NOT work at all. Due to distortion from the magnifying sheet, the ever-useful Scanner becomes...well, not useful at all, its just a total, unreadable blur. Unless you can get the image to blow up without being distorted I'd totally skip this one. NOT RECOMMENDED
- Revector--too many trails hamper this one, but it makes the power-ups easier to see. Definitely the more expensive page magnifiers that don't distort images is recommended.
- Repulse--definitely seems bigger, but with the sentry ships leaving trails behind, this isn't a good thing. Avoid.
- Rockaroids--there's a bit of vector trails left behind when the rocks move, but it's not too bad until you start hitting the later levels when there's a lot going on onscreen. The game seems bigger and if the difficulty level was the same as the original, you'd almost swear you were back in an arcade playing it all over again. Something to "rock" (heh) at least once.
- Rockaroids Remix: Third Rock--seems bigger, but the rockaroids leave trails behind, so this isn't really worth it. Also, if the sheet isn't positioned well at the top and if a U. F. O. appears at the top area of the screen, it can be hard to spot.
- Scramble--definitely seems bigger in scope, and the canyon ceiling in the second area seems to bulge out at you. Only down side are the vector streaks left behind the meteors during the third stage, although it's not real bad.
- Sectis--This is cool to try, but not real good as a whole. The game definitely seems bigger, especially with the first boss battle (minus the trails it leaves behind though) and the first and third mini-movies (which, with the first one, it looks like those blasted sectoids are going to fly right out of the Vectrex and bite the player in the face!). However, the sectoids leave trails behind, which is distracting, and trails will appear in places that you wouldn't expect, such as the sectoid count at the top left of the screen, as well as the stars in the first area.
- Solar Quest--lot of trails on this game as the ships move and it doesn't seem any bigger with the magnifying sheet. Skip.
- Space Frenzy--surprisingly, nothing really seems bigger or different here, not even any trails (which is good), or the alien or anything. There's nothing new to see here at all. A disappointment.
- Space Launcher--aside from some streaking with the U. F. O.s and star fields that comes with the cheaper magnifying sheet, the screen does seem bigger.
- Space Race--ugh. Lots of streaking going on with the asteroids and the screen doesn't seem bigger, so it might not even be worthwhile checking out one of the more expensive magnifying sheets to see if those are better.
- Spike--wow, THIS one's really strange, it's almost hard to put into words. The play area seems bigger, yet more compressed; I guess with the distortion it seems like it's all bunched together and you have less room to react to things (which isn't true, of course, since this unique add-on won't redraw any of the graphics for the machine, but it seems that way to me!). NOT RECOMMENDED
- Spike Hoppin'--holy crap, check out that effect once you clear a screen, it can be like viewing the game through a Gyroscope! You could get either a swirling or more of a pulsating effect that wasn't visible to the naked eye without the magnifying sheet. Spike Trippin' is more like it!
- Spike's Water Balloons--a lot of prism effects with all the characters -- Spike, Spud and Molly -- being drawn, along with every water balloon being dropped (whee!). Not really worth it, although the game seems bigger.
- Spinball--definitely seems bigger, as it fills up the whole screen in the first place as it is, pretty much. There's the usual prism effects and all, but I think it'd work well with one of the expensive magnifying sheets that don't distort the graphics.
- Star Fire Spirits--in all areas of the game, it definitely seems bigger, although in the first area some enemy ships near the top might be hard to spot if the sheet isn't adjusted well. The last section seems to have a more pronounced 3-D effect in the trench, like was mentioned in the Disc Duel Demo. RECOMMENDED
- Star Hawk--the screen seems a little bigger and is definitely impressive to look at blown up. There aren't many vector trails either, possibly because the action moves so quickly.
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture--this one's really odd. You can see more trails emanating from your score, weapon and shield status and the starbase, rather than the enemy ships! The game doesn't seem any bigger either, so it's not really worth it.
- Super Spike World demo--definitely seems bigger. So slip and slide (but with no sound) to your heart's content.
- Stramash Zone--this definitely seems bigger, which is essential when you're playing a Battlezone clone! Surprisingly there's not a lot of prism effects to it either, although to me the Gloaming Zone version doesn't seem any larger though. RECOMMENDED
- Sundance–-unfortunately suns leave streaks behind as they move, making the display rather annoying to look at. The game looks a little bigger though, so maybe one of the more expensive magnifiers that don’t streak might work?
- Thrust--there's a little bit of a vector trail when the player flies around, but it didn't really bother me, and it does seem a bit bigger.
- Trakkers--the trails aren't real noticeable and the game seems a little bigger.
- V-Frogger--the game seems bigger (ribbit!), but unfortunately there's a lot of prism effects and trails left behind (even with a Scramble overlay on it, which supposedly cuts down on glare!), so it's only worth trying for a minute or two, then pause the game and take the magnifier right back off!
- Vaboom!--seems bigger, but there are vector trails galore when the man drops bombs. Definitely a bomb here.
- VecFahren--definitely seems bigger, although there's the usual prism effects and all. This is probably a good candidate for one of those expensive magnifying sheets where the vectors don't distort though.
- Of course, since there isn't much to these demos to begin with, most of the unfinished Vectopia stuff is minimal anyway. There's no streaks or anything on the Controller test, which seems bigger, but it's not like you're going to use this much! With the Mad Planetoid Test Wk, there's prisms galore that spin around on this, but then, this isn't going to be used much at all though, since there's nothing to do. The Star Fury Test Work has a trail for when you fly your ship around, but there's nothing to do here anyway, so this isn't really worth it unless you already have the screen up. Vectropolis 500 has an effect on some of the tracks like you're watching a movie in 3-D without your glasses. The cars leave the usual trails behind, but it seems bigger in scope, so it might be worth a test drive (har). The Star Fire Early Work seems bigger and there's not many vector trails, and it's Early Work II is bigger and better, since the enemy ships are easier to spot (even when far away) when they're blown up with the screen. So it's still a bit fun to shoot away at them for a few minutes, especially since you have to look closely to spot a few vector trails following your cursor around, so it's not very distracting.
- Vector 21--the cards really seem to leap off the screen with a 3-D effect. Oddly though, Royal 21 doesn't work, as there is distortion with the two markers that indicate when a card will automatically be placed in a pile, which they point towards the middle, and the distortion of those markers extend towards the middle, which isn't good. I also got a prism effect when there are a lot of cards on the top of the screen. Thumb up on the first one, but a thumb down on the second.
- Vector Vaders--seems a bit bigger, although there's the usual vector trail when the invaders move, plus the saucer might be hard to see at the top of the screen when it appears. Give it a shot once just to see how much bigger it looks though.
- Vector Vaders 2: The Director's Cut--too much of a prism/vector trail effect when the invaders drop bombs. Skip this one unless you're not easily annoyed.
- Vectrace--seems bigger in scope, but there are trails when the cars move. I tend to tune them out though and didn't find them to be too bad, although it could be hard to see your speed, which you need to keep up. Might be worth a try.
- Vectrepede--this definitely seems larger in scale, probably due to the Vectrex's vertical screen, since it's taller than it is wide.
- Vectris--there aren't any vector trails or prism effects showing up here, but the game doesn't seem any bigger either. Drop it like any Vectris piece.
- Wormhole--trails are pretty evident when you move your ship, but they aren't as noticeable with enemy ships or stars. The game doesn't seem any bigger either, so just play it in its original, non-blown up form.
- Y*A*S*I--this seems bigger, and with the graphics looking almost exactly like the original, with a larger screen it's almost like you're playing the arcade game all over again! (Note: also, if you have a Scramble overlay, that makes it seem like the original too, with the invaders turning green!) RECOMMENDED
- Zantis-–this turned out to be a surprise, due to the Zantis’ moving so fast I thought they’d leave a lot of streaks and stuff behind. But no, they don’t! (Maybe it’s because I was using a Mine Storm overlay though?) The screen seems bigger too, so I’d definitely give this a try.
- ZSB--there's a prism effect when the Walkers move, although it's not really noticeable until they start jumping. This suffers from the same problem as Spike though, where it seems bigger, yet squashed (which I still can't really explain in words if that doesn't make any sense). Unlike with Protector though, the scanner isn't as high up, so it doesn't get distorted.
Sign your name here (along with what game[s] you input) if you've added something!
Darrylb500 06:56, February 3, 2011 (UTC)
- VectrexMad!'s post in regards to Darrylb500 doing this (in the December, 2010 archive)
- Vectrex games Easter eggs page in regards to unlocking a few of these bonus games that are listed on here
This article was featured from March - April, 2011.