GCE Vectrex
Type Console Developer Smith Engineering \ GCE
Release Date 1982-Nov Region(s) North America, Japan, Europe
Initial Price $199 USD Games Released 28 (official releases)
     by Dark Watcher
The Vectrex, originally named the Kenner Mini-Arcade, was released in November 1982 by General Consumer Electronics (GCE).  It wasn't just your average game console.  To this day there has never been a videogame system quite like it.
The legendary GCE \ Milton Bradley Vectrex is the world's only standalone vector graphic home video game system.  The console was cartridge based like all other consoles, but the unit came with a 9-inch monochrome monitor, an attached joystick and even a built in game called Mine Storm.
While most videogames used raster graphics, which utilize pixels, the Vectrex used sharp vector graphics.  If you're not familiar with vector graphics, it is basically a wire frame outline of solid objects and was considered state of the art in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Dueling Vectrex
The Vectrex was capable of only displaying black & white, but used plastic color overlays placed on the screen to give the game a more colorful appearance.  The Vectrex also made its way to Japan (Bandai Kousokusen) and throughout Europe.

FACT:  The Vectrex almost made a comeback in 1988 when Smith Engineering considered resurrecting the Vectrex as a handheld unit.  Milton Bradley thought the $100+ price tag of the unit would make it sell poorly, so the idea was scrapped.  A year later Nintendo's Game Boy was released and became a huge success.

Some lucky guy's massive Vectrex collection
     Officially licensed releases
GCE Vectrex - United States
Brand New Vectrex Hp 3000 Arcade System Nib Works Wii
Milton Bradley Vectrex - United States
Milton Bradley Vectrex - Canada
Milton Bradley Vectrex - UK
Milton Bradley Vectrex - Netherlands
Milton Bradley Vectrex - Germany

     Non-licensed hardware releases
No clones were released for this system.
     by Marriott_Guy
Consoles are rated based upon the available technology at the time of its release.  A 10 point scale is utilized, with 10 being excellent.
Image courtesy of When Chemists Attack
Console Design 08 This self-contained system is designed purely for function and not aesthetics.  Simple controls for Power, Reset and Volume are conveniently placed.  The control pad snaps into the front of the console which further minimizes the footprint of the entire unit.
Console Durability 07 The Vectrex is a girthy system and should be handled with care.  The speakers have a tendency to 'buzz' after extended periods of game play. 
Controllers 07 The compact design of the joystick and four button control pad is well designed enabling extended gaming sessions with minimal fatigue.  The spiral cord is rather short, but this is not really an issue since you have to sit pretty close anyway to the Vectrex.
Graphics 08 The clean and crisp presentation of vector graphics just screams 'classic gaming'.  You had to hump it over to the local arcade to truly experience this cutting-edge technology for that era (Asteroids, Tempest, Battlezone, Red Baron, etc.).  The color overlays are nice but not truly necessary to enjoy the Vectrex.
Audio 05 Overall audio effects are good, but the internal speaker produces sound that is somewhat shallow.  Like many others have experienced, a slight buzz is emitted during game play. 
Media 07 Software for the Vectrex was distributed on ROM cartridges.  Originally the size of the game varied from 4-8KB, with later homebrew releases increasing to 32KB.  These carts are compact and extremely sturdy.
Gamer Value 08 Being the only console to include its own vector graphics monitor, the Vectrex provides a truly unique gaming experience.  The solid game library is complimented by a number of additional titles offered by the homebrew community.
Collector Value 08 The Vectrex definitely belongs on the shelf of any  collector or classic gamer.  Besides the Bandai Kousokusen, the most desirable version is the original GCE model.  You can tell the difference when first booting the system (GCE vs. Milton Bradley logo is displayed).

     Interesting facts on software for this system
Software for the Vectrex was distributed on ROM cartridges.  Originally the size of the game varied from 4-8KB, with later homebrew releases increasing to 32KB.  These carts are compact and extremely sturdy.

The stylish boxes are constructed of sturdy cardboard with a silver\grey grid background for all titles.  This classic look is extremely appealing, with the crisp, uncluttered look that is refreshing.  A large, plastic inner housing provides storage for the cartridge, but basically just serves to reinforce the structural integrity of the casing.

One of the holy grails for the Vectrex is Mr. Boston, a limited, custom release of the existing title Clean Sweep.  The game is basically the same, with only minor promotional changes.  Minestorm II is another extremely difficult (and expensive) cartridge to acquire.

For the gamer, the revered Sean Kelly Multi-Cart (Version 2.0) is the way to go.  This single cartridge contains all of the original releases for the Vectrex along with dozens of homebrew titles (60 games in total).  Though pricey (around $125), this truly does deliver on value.
Sample Game Play

Vectrex Game Boxes


     Captured in-game images
Armor Attack
Armor Attack screenshot
Bedlam screenshot
Berzerk screenshot
Blitz! Action Football
Blitz! Action Football screenshot
Clean Sweep
Clean Sweep screenshot
Cosmic Charm
Cosmic Charm screenshot
Dark Tower
Dark Tower screenshot
Flipper Pinball
Flipper Pinball screenshot
Fortress of  Narzod
Fortress of  Narzod screenshot
Heads Up! Action Soccer
Heads Up! Action Soccer screenshot
Hyper Chase
Hyper Chase screenshot
Melody Master
Melody Master screenshot
Mine Storm
Mine Storm screenshot
Polar Rescue
Polar Rescue screenshot
Pole Position
Pole Position screenshot
Rip Off
Rip Off screenshot
Scramble screenshot
Solar Quest
Solar Quest screenshot
Space Wars
Space Wars screenshot
Spike screenshot
Star Castle
Star Castle screenshot
Star Trek
Star Trek screenshot
Starhawk screenshot
Web Wars
Web Wars screenshot
     First and third party system emulators

This is an amazing emulator for Windows. It requires Direct X 8.0.
There are other emulators available, but this one is one of our favorites.
     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
Motorola 68A09 1.6 MHz None 1 KB x 4-BIT 2114
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
9" monitor Black & White N\A General Instrument AY-3-8912
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
Cartridge 32 KB 28 (official) None
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
8 KB (8-BIT 2363 chip) None Arcade-style Joystick, 4 Button 3D Imager, Light Pen
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
Two (2) None None Samsung 240RB40 Monitor
Power Supply - Internal Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
AC 120V, 60Hz None Reset button, Volume control
GCE Vectrex Owner Manual (PDF) - 0.85 MB
GCE Vectrex Service Manual (PDF) - 1.53 MB

     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
Vectrex Television Commercials

Vectrex Advertisements

     Visitor insights and feedback
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