Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Vectrex 72 in 1 Multicart

So I got my Vectrex multicart from Raven's Retro Nest, a nice site full of all sorts of information on the Vectrex and a shop where you can buy your very own multicart. It cost me about $55 shipped, which is the current equivalent of £34.99. It's not a bad price considering the fact that the out of production Sean Kelley multicarts are going for upward of $90 on ebay right now.

So here's why you want one of Raven's multicarts as opposed to the others on the market: 1) It's menu-based. Most other multicarts for the Vectrex are switch-based. They feature a series of 4 switches and you have to consult a printed menu and put the switches in the right configuration for your desired game. With Raven's multicart, all you need to do is boot up and use your controller to select the game of your choice. 2) Unlike other multicarts that feature 36 games or so, this one has (or at least advertises) 72 games 3) Price. I've seen some 36 game switch-based multicarts (Sean Kelley clones) on ebay in the $40 range. For another $15 you can own a menu-based cart with twice as many things on it.

Now here's the thing about this multicart: it doesn't provide 72 unique fully-realized Vectrex games. That's what the cartridge says, but the website is quite clear as to what is on the cart. I can play all 21 original Vectrex games with no problems, as well as 7 of the 9 prototypes (Engine Analyzer is a light pen application), and I can also run the Test Cart, but have no need for it until I decide to build new controllers. I think the game hacks in the next section of the multicart are for non-analog controllers (such as the readily available hacked Sega controllers) and I can run these games, but don't need to. I can't play the 3D or light pen games because I don't have the super rare 3D visor or light pen controller. All of the homebrew games play well. Some of the homebrew demos are really half-baked, but I can load them all. Everything in the misc demos section is either a simple graphics and/or audio thing. You can make your Vectrex lay down some Bach, which is impressive but highly unnecessary. So let's count 'em up. I count 49 playable gamelike things on this cartridge that I can actually play with just the Vectrex and the official Vectrex controller (I'm not counting repeated games, and yes I counted all the games in All Good Things). That's still a whole buncha playable things for the Vectrex. It's 48 more than I had before, so I'm not complaining. I'm just telling you what to expect.

This multicart is by far the best I've seen for the Vectrex. Oh, I should also point out that the current version of the multicart is for just the PCB with no case (pictured on the right above). I have just the bare PCB plugged into my Vectrex right now, and I unplug it and put it back in the static free bag when I'm done with a session. I have an empty Vectrex case being shipped to me as we speak. Every now and again someone will have a lot of them made and you can get one for $5 or so. You can also swap it into an existing Vectrex cartridge, if you have one. You can also perform a little surgery on an Intellivision cartridge if you have a game you hate (I suggest Horse Racing). Anyway, the multicart provides an inexpensive way to own the entire Vectrex catalog without paying $20-$40 per game, which is what they usually go for. I give this particular multicart very high marks.

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