20 March 2010

Mine Storm - Vectrex

I went to an all-boys Catholic high school in Baltimore, MD. It's called Mt. St. Joseph college and it has educated a few generations of Alvarez boys (or Mount Men, as my father says).
The all-boys drawback was balanced by the fact that one of my best friends, Chris, went to a public school in a waterfront community that was teeming with beautiful girls. It was also home to a fair number of rich kids with their own sailboats and expensive cars. I was no pauper, but I knew the tags on my clothes came from Sears and theirs did not. One of those kids, his name escapes me now, was right out of the rich side of a John Hughes movie.
And he had a Vectrex.
The Vectrex is a self-contained gaming system with its own screen that uses sharp vector graphics. It was a bit of a status symbol back then. Rich kids with important parents had the Vectrex. (The same seemed to be true of the Intellivision.)
While this kid's parents were in Rome for a holiday he had a party and I saw it cast aside in his bedroom. It was dusty and unused. It was forgotten.
I fired it up while the jocks did keg stands downstairs. The Vectrex comes with the game Mine Storm built in. It's an Asteroids clone that is every bit as exciting as the game on which it is based. It is crisp, difficult and rewarding.
And after I passed out that night (Mickey's Malt Liquor if memory serves) I never played it again until earlier this year. Some guy was selling a Vectrex in perfect working order for $60 online. I pounced on it.
And now it sits in the gaming museum I have constructed in the cellar. Like that rich kid from decades ago, I rarely play it. It's as if it is almost too precious to use.
But when I do I am reminded of a time in my life when I was discovering wine and women while still rooted in the arcade mentality of my adolescence.
That's $60 well spent.
By Victor Paul Alvarez

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