I first received a Vectrex when I was about 10 years old. This was a gift from my uncle and actually the first gaming machine I ever owned, though I had probably owned Tiger LCD handhelds. This was purchased on discount by my uncle in the 80s and played by him and his sisters. Thankfully, he kept them all complete.
It's hard to remember all the games which came with the system at that time, but I do remember playing Scramble, Web Wars and Fortress of Narzod quite a bit and probably had about 10 other games. In retrospect, I really wish that my uncle had purchased some of the rarer, now more expensive titles like Star Castle, Pole Position or Polar Rescue. These games I had to acquire myself many years later.
My brother and I played them for many hours a day, trying to get farther and farther with better and better scores. My aunts and uncle had written scores in a few of the books and we played so much that we beat them all by quite a lot. I recall being called for dinner one time and being aggravated because I lost all my progress since the Vectrex has a lack of a pause feature. I also remember being pretty excited that I beat the Hurler in Fortress of Narzod, something that I have difficulty doing these days as a mild gamer. In that occasion, I actually found the bug that gives you infinite lives when you and the hurler die at the same time.
My brother and I were given an SNES several years later. We'd played SNES and Genesis at a couple of friends' houses and strongly hinted at wanting one until we got one for Christmas. We were behind in the times though because by the time we got one our friends were playing the first PlayStation. They'd be playing PS2 before I ever got a PSX and I've always been several generations behind the current one.
The Vectrex got pretty limited use for many years though I always liked bragging about it or showing it to others. I attempted to collect every SNES and developed a very respectable PSX collection while dabbling in Dreamcast, Genesis, several Gameboy handhelds and the PS2. Most I've since sold when I needed money but never the Vectrex.
Around 2006, when I was hardcore collecting for the SNES (and had 500+ unique games), I started tracking down a few games for the Vectrex. I started piecing together the really expensive games and looking for the best deals. In some cases, it took me a year to find a good price on the cart, overlay, manual and box and that's the way I got Star Castle cheaply. It's pretty difficult to do these days. Box only sales pretty rarely come up.
This is when I discovered homebrew games. I won an auction for Space Frenzy which John Donzila had listed on eBay. I watched eBay very intently and really didn't know about the Google groups or what websites that the homebrew developers may have had. I was on the original pre-order for Vectrexians and did see auctions for Logo Limited Edition and Star Sling Limited Edition on eBay. By now though, college and several hobbies including classic cars had me financially strained and I wasn't able to purchase many games anymore. In fact, I had to downsize.
I wouldn't be until around 2011 that I overcame my financial hurdle and started collecting for the Vectrex again. I've been extremely lucky. I've found the right people at the right time or got the right auction for the right price to build one of the nicest collections. I bought a few items at the time when Pepijn Baker, one of the largest Vectrex collectors, was selling all of his stuff, I caught a few rare items in online shops, purchased a number of George Pelonis's and Dondzila's titles before they discontinued them, and developed friendships with a number of developers by discussing gaming or through doing artwork.
I've always been doing graphic design in my spare time apart from my dull day job as a grocery stock clerk. Things which I've done for my own edification have always lead to a request by someone, which lead to another and then another. With the Vectrex, I first did a few overlay designs and box art to house incomplete games in my collection. That's when Chris Malcolm contacted me, as well as Madtronix, and Der Luchs regarding artwork, though we'd spoken about their games previously. I've done far more artwork than has ever been published, as I've done designs which have never been released or quite a bit of variations for those designs. I've also done artwork which was personal or privately for someone but not released it to prevent illegitimate profiteering.
I've also attempted to make sure that people had easier access to information than I did. I had searched forums, Google groups, did internet searches, utilized the Wayback Machine site and spoken directly to developers in my own pursuit to complete my collection. I'd noticed that not only was information regarding the Vectrex very scattered but also it was either incomplete or nonexistent. This made me decide to start publishing the information that I had gathered. I spoke with collectors and directly with the developers to gather as much information on each release as I could and that's when I wrote a few articles like The Most Elite Vectrex Games, which was the precursor to the much more extensive The Definitive Guide to Vectrex Collecting.
There's still a lot of things that I believe that I can do for the Vectrex community. While improving The Guide is an ongoing duty, I've also been focusing my efforts to help complete the Vectrex Wiki and providing artwork for the all-vector Vectrex Manual2 endeavor but I'd like to increase the collectiblity of loose cartridges by offering downloadable artwork for making your own display boxes. Perhaps one day, I'll learn to code and develop my own game.
This article was featured from May-June, 2016.