Although it wasn’t the first to do it, Nintendo certainly brought a renaissance to miniaturized throwback consoles with its NES and SNES Classic Editions, which then inspired miniaturized versions of the Sega Genesis, PlayStation, but, tragically, not the Vectrex, forcing Retro Game On’s Brendan to build their own.
For those who didn’t grow up in the ‘80s, Nintendo wasn’t the only game in town when it game to video games. Up until 1983, when the video game market spectacularly crashed, there were countless gaming systems to choose from, including a very unique machine called the Vectrex. Where as nearly all home consoles connected to a standard television set which drew images on screen line by line, the Vectrex was an all in one machine with a custom CRT display that could draw lines on screen in any direction, allowing it to create 3D polygonal graphics that were crude by today’s standards, but technically impressive in the early ‘80s.
The Vectrex didn’t survive the ‘83 video game crash, but remains a popular choice among retro collectors. Surprisingly, in 2018, the National Video game Museum got its hands on an incredibly rare prototype of an even smaller Vectrex console designed by Milton Bradley to be more compact and portable. It was definitely smaller, but not as small as the retro consoles available today, which is what inspired Brendan to take matters into their own hand.
Vectrex purists are probably going to complain that this Micro Vectrex isn’t using an actual cathode ray tube display (they definitely existed at this scale) but instead features a vertically aligned 2.5-inch LCD. Both the replica’s housing and its controller (which isn’t at a matching scale so that it’s still usable) were 3D printed with the models available on Thingiverse for download if you want to try making your own own, but you’ll have to shell out for the modern electronics inside: a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B.
Although the micro Vectrex isn’t compatible with the original console’s game cartridges or the weird plastic screen overlays that were used to artificially add some colour, a RetroPie Vectrex emulator appears to do a fantastic job of recreating the unique look of the Vectrex’s graphics, including simulating those colour overlays. And while this version still isn’t battery powered, it draws all the juice it needs from a USB cable, so grab a portable charger and you’ve got yourself the best portable console the early ‘80s could muster.