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O   N   L   I   N   E

My Buddy

by Bart Vialpando
transcribed and edited by C Cole

   My Vectrex has been with me for a long, long time now. I bought it around 1982 or maybe a little earlier. Well, actually I didn't buy it. It was a gift given to me by my parents. I had said to them, "there's this new game machine out and it' really cool because to don't have to hook it up to a TV. It comes with a built in screen and you just turn it on and play. It's totally different and unique. I've never seen anything like it." So, a few weeks passed. And it wasn't Christmas. It wasn't my birthday. It wasn't any kind of holiday or special day, but I came home after school one day, and I saw my mom standing in the kitchen with a smile on her face and a gleam in her eye, even more than usual. She said, "well, I hope you had a good day at school today," and I said, "yeah, I did," and I walked away and went upstairs. I walked down the hallway and into my room and there, sitting on my desk, was the Vectrex. She didn't wrap it. She just had it sitting there on the desk, in the box.

   "Wow," I thought. I couldn't wait. It was fascinating. I opened up the box, took it out, looked at it. It was a marvelous machine, sleek and black. It was everything I dreamed of, everything I wanted. My mom also had the fortitude to purchase a couple of games and an extra controller for me. After fooling with Minestorm, which required no cartridge, I proceeded to play Scramble. This was the very first game cartridge I put into the Vectrex, the first in a library of cartridges I eventually got a hold of. I pretty much own all the games except for Spinball, Starhawk, [Head's Up, Polar Rescue], and some of the new ones that were suppose to come out as the Vectrex was failing like that "Mail" game, Dark Tower, and 3D Pole Position.

   The funny thing about that library is that they're all good games, but my favorite game still to this day is Scramble. It was the first game I really played. I didn't even "play" Minestorm. I knew that I could, but I played it so much at the JCPenny store that I didn't want to play it anymore. So I just wanted to play Scramble. And when it's humming and buzzing those wonderful sounds, especially the William Tell Overture when you destroy the base, you figure "ah, what class. This is a great feeling."

   Like I said, I got an extra controller and a second game, Ripoff. Now that is a truly classy two-player game. To this day I don't know a better two-player game, where two people can share the fun, not in competition, but in helping each other. I like cooperation games. It seems like almost all the other games throughout history have involved shooting the other guy, getting the other guy, punch and kick the other guy. It's never helping. It's bashing the other guy. But there you are, with a friend, trying to get those little thieving scumbags trying to get your triangle gas pods. The game was simple yet fun: you shoot 'em, bash 'em, smash 'em, ram 'em, you do whatever you can to save your gas pods.

   I've had plenty of people come over and play my Vectrex. The funny thing is that those friends [with a couple of exceptions], and my old girlfriend, are all gone now. But my buddy (Vectrex) is still here. He's a little older now, like me. The case isn't as black. It's starting to turn a little gray, just like my hair. He's still sitting on my desk after all these years, and when I turn him on, and I put Scramble in, he takes me right back to the very first day I played that game. And what memories I have...wonderful memories of friends and relatives that are no longer here, either because I've broken off with them, or they have they're own things to do, or they've moved, or died. But not my buddy, he's still here, with me every day. He's loyal, faithful. His only function is to give me pleasure...and he has.

  I think of all the money I spent on it (games, 3D goggles, light pen) and I remember all the critics saying "Awe, what kind of system is this. It's in black and white! No one's ever going to like it." The Vectrex has proved them all wrong. It's one of the most reliable game systems around. And I'd like to just thank [Smith Engineering, GCE and] Milton Bradley for developing it. And to all the programmers and different people who worked on the Vectrex I have to say thank you very much. Thank you for all the joy and pleasure you've given me over the years.

   Anyway, time's a wastin'. Here I am yapping about the Vectrex when I could actually be playing it. I could be playing Scramble right now, dodging UFOs, fireballs, and missiles over mountains and through labyrinths...oh yes, and I can't wait to hear the William Tell Overture once more when I blow up the enemies base.



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