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ParaJVE Vectrex Emulator their toes into the Vectrex world (perhaps before deciding to buy a Vectrex) could do so without the need to own a
by Franck Chevassu (Vectrex— Mac/ real Vectrex console. I'm talking about Vectrex emulators - programs that run on popular computers, or consoles, that
Windows/Linux) provide a virtual Vectrex. Several emulators exist and they
Available for FREE from www.vectrex- are available for different computer operating systems and even other video game consoles (e.g. Sega Dreamcast, PSP, PS2, GP32 hand held and Xbox 360).
Regular readers of this magazine will no doubt have seen From my experience the best Vectrex emulator, with the
the occasional article for the Vectrex. If they weren’t al- game player in mind, is ParaJVE by Franck Chevassu.
ready familiar with this console they may have been a bit This emulator is PC based and stands out from the others
curious as to what all the fuss is about. in that it is very easy to install, provides the best emulation
A newbie might say, “It’s only a machine with 1K of mem- (so much so that some Vectrex program home brewers
ory and black & white vector type graphics, isn’t it?” Actu- use this to first test their programs) and is the only current
ally, what’s packaged in this console is much more than PC based emulator that is actively being updated by its
that, and it deserves further investigation. Of course, curi- author. Officially released in July 2006, it is very stable and
osity comes in different levels according to the amount of mature having gone through several releases. The current
enthusiasm and time available to the inquirer. A big obsta- released version is v0.5.0.
cle to curiosity for a newbie is lack of “hands on” access to ParaJVE is written in Java 1.5 and is available with spe-
the console. No matter how much background reading cific libraries so that it can run on Windows XP, Mac OS or
goes on beforehand, who would want to risk purchasing a Linux platforms. The only requirement for ParaJVE to work
Vectrex console on eBay only to find out the Vectrex isn't properly is that "Java Runtime Environment 5.0" must be
really their “cup of tea”? Those brought up on a diet of full already installed. This is a simple download and installa-
color raster graphics based games might find the Vectrex tion if it's not already present.
console’s sparse graphics detail using line drawing repre-
sentations somewhat lacking. On the other hand, this After ParaJVE is installed you have everything you need to
uniqueness is also something that attracts many new start investigating the world of Vectrex. Included in the
Vectrex users. The other curiosity killer is price. Vectrex distribution are the binaries for the original set of games
consoles are becoming increasingly difficult to purchase at plus a few of the later homebrews too. Also included are
a fair price. Plus, online buyers have to pay postage. Add the game instructions and associated colored overlay files.
to that the fear of purchasing an item that doesn’t always Yes, you read correctly, this emulator also emulates many
match its eBay description, and any inquiring mind has of the original plastic overlays that accompanied the origi-
moved on to a more accessible games console. nal games in order to give the impression of color on the
normally black and white Vectrex screen. Fortunately, for a while now, those who just wanted to dip
Loading a game is very easy. Upon executing ParaJVE a
game select dialogue window pops up giving choices
including “Run Game” and “Pick another ROM”. ParaJVE
always remembers the name of the last binary file loaded
and choosing “Run Game” executes the binary file immedi-
ately. Selecting “Pick another ROM” allows the user to
browse for another binary. The binary files are identical to
the original ROMs found in the game cartridges. Several
websites allow other Vectrex games ROMs to be
downloaded, and the ParaJVE emulator is able to run
them all.
There are some interesting options in ParaJVE to facilitate
its application in arcade cabinets. There are windowed or
full screen modes, and options to hide the menu bar. The
real Vectrex distinguished itself from other consoles in that
its display is arranged in portrait orientation, i.e. the screen
is taller than it is wider and not the other way around as
found in most other games consoles. For the ParaJVE
user who wants to get as close an emulation as possible
there is even an option available to rotate the screen
display by 90° and thereby allow them game play on a
monitor physically oriented on its side. It doesn’t stop
there. The technology behind the Vectrex display is ana-
logue and the ParaJVE emulator even offers an option to
switch on persistence to give a phosphor-blur effect as
seen on a real Vectrex display.
Sound emulation of the Vectrex under ParaJVE has got to
be one of the best renditions of all the Vectrex emulators
(Continued on page 13)
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11 | Video Game Trader Magazine | #8 |
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