Evolution of the Console Controller – Vectrex Controller (1982)

The Vectrex, the first and only console to have a built-in vector based screen, was an early user of analog stick technology and a pioneer of 3D effects in home consoles. The vector screen allowed the Vectrex to emulate several arcade games like Space Wars (1977 arcade, 1982 Vectrex port) much more accurately than was possible on other systems. Unfortunately for the Vectrex, it was released immediately before the video game crash of 1982 and was a commercial failure.

The Vectrex controller features an analog stick and four action buttons laid out in a horizontal line. It is generally used laying flat on a table, as opposed to held in the player’s hands. Not many Vectrex games took advantage of analog input, but the Vectrex is notable for having included analog at all. The controller allowed for more precise control of spaceflight themed games and other free roaming games than is possible with digital controls.

Mine Storm, a game built into the Vectrex, often crashed at level 13, but on some consoles it would continue. Complaining consumers were offered a new cartridge for Mine Storm II, but because few players reached level 13 and even fewer complained, the Mine Storm II had very limited distribution and is now one of the Vectrex system’s rarest games.

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Gift of Ben Wilhelm, 2012.025.003