This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
72 Game Multi- and stored on the cartridge, and the user can immedi-
ately begin playing. cart (Vectrex)
by Andy Coleman New EPROM and Flash-based multi-cart releases
Available from (employing menu selection, but not allowing the user to download different programs) have been non-
PlayNTrade- existent for quite awhile. That is until now. Rather, like the analogy of buses never showing up, and then
Vectrex for $99 two coming along at the same time, there have just
In the 90s, a typical been two recent announcements of new multi-carts in
Vectrex owner was the Vectrex scene. Andy Coleman, proprietor of ―Play
forced to purchase N Trade‖, and author of Vectrex games ―City Bomber‖
second-hand Vectrex and ―Spike Goes Skiing‖ has recently released for sale
games cartridges a new multi-cart containing 72 programs for the Vec-
when they wanted to
try out different
games. The more
technically inclined
copied the binary im-
ages of the game
ROMs, and then burned them to similar memory ca-
pacity EPROMs for insertion into modified games car-
tridges. However, this was not a common practice
because most ROM files were not publicly available to
When Jay Smith, father of the Vectrex, released all
the intellectual property relating to the Vectrex to the
public domain some years ago, it helped spawn the Size of 72 Game Multicart compared to standard Cartridge design
development of home-brewed Vectrex cartridges
which used larger capacity memory chips to contain trex. To date, this is the highest number of programs
pretty much the whole official Vectrex games library, yet to be stored in a single commercially available
and later also included prototype and homebrew Vectrex cartridge! The other newly announced multi-
games/demos, too. Initially, these cartridges, known cart solution is from home brewer Madtronix. This is
as multi-carts, were EPROM based and contained just expected to be released in the next few weeks and
a few of the games (typically 8, 16, or 32 separate will offer 106 programs, but this multi-cart offering
programs), and the games were selectable by DIP comprises two cartridges.
switches or jumpers. Later, multi-carts became more
sophisticated with game selection made via a menu This article reviews the 72 Game Multicart from Andy
on the Vectrex screen. Sean Kelly‘s multi-carts were Coleman. This is a multi-cart in the traditional sense.
one of the most popular multi-carts using on-screen Although it is flash-based, only the programs provided
menu selection. The last Kelly incarnation was the on the cartridge can be played. No option is available
Multi-cart v2.0 released in 2000 which contained a to the user for downloading new games from a per-
total of 61 games on one cartridge. Unfortunately, sonal computer, that‘s a different multi-cart market.
Sean Kelly‘s multi-carts only seem to crop up now First impressions of the cartridge itself are that it is
and then these days. When they do crop up, it is only well presented. The cartridge is packaged in a modi-
on eBay where they usually fetch exorbitant prices. fied video box, and a printed cardboard insert ensures
An even more recent alternative to the conventional that the cartridge is unable to rattle around in the box
multi-cart are the during shipment.
cartridges based on Immediately no-
flash memory that ticeable is that
allow the user to CRASH COURSE ON MEMORY TYPES the cartridge case
download their own is not the typical Read Only Memory or ROM is just that. Programs are written into
programs from memory once during manufacture and are not lost when power is Vectrex cartridge
their personal com- switched off. All the early mass manufactured Vectrex games design. The case
puter. Although cartridges contain ROM type memory. For smaller runs, typically is smaller and the
this has obvious home brews and some multi-carts, Erasable Programmable ROMs edge connector is
advantages, there (EPROM) are used. EPROMs are also read only memory but are exposed. How-
are also disadvan- erasable when exposed to ultraviolet light. Finally, there is Flash ever, this some-
tages, i.e. a per- memory which has largely superseded the use of EPROM. They what unique de-
sonal computer is offer greater memory capacity at cheap price. This memory can be sign is still practi-
required, some electrically erased (no ultraviolet light required) and repro- cal and allows a
ROMs need to be grammed. secure and solid
―patched‖ to run in fit with the con-
a memory configura- sole when the
tion implemented by cartridge is in-
the multi-cart, ROM files cannot always be easily serted.
found, and the number of programs that can be No instructions are provided with the cartridge, but it
stored on the cartridge has, to date, been limited to is obvious what to do. After the cartridge is inserted
31 programs. The value added by a traditional multi- and the Vectrex and powered up, the Vectrex boots
cart is that all the programs have already been found (Continued on page 12)
11 | Video Game Trader Magazine | June 2008 |
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