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Vectrex Dark Tower Prototype

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I picked up this labeless Vectrex cartridge as part of a larger vectrex collection. The seller represented the cartridge as an authentic Vectrex Dark Tower prototype.

 

I've mostly convinced myself that it is a reproduction but could use a second (or more) opinion.

 

The PCB is a Rev B production board.

The EPROM is a 28-pin which might be date coded 8717, too late for a Vectrex prototype. Vectrex EPROM/ROMS are 24-pin.

Two small holes have been hand drilled through the PCB to allow two EPROM pins to pass through the PCB (see picture showing back of PCB).

The EPROM is soldered not socketed to the PCB.

Available online info indicates only one authentic Dark Tower proto has been discovered to date. The picture I've seen of that prototype looks nothing like this cartridge.

 

So what do we have here?

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I find it highly doubtful that a real proto would have to drill holes in the board like that. They would want more than one built, and eventually want to manufacture them, so they would make a real board. It only takes a couple of weeks at most. And they would know they needed a board before reaching the point of actually making one, because you don't debug code by burning it to EPROMs.

 

But yeah, that date code. Of course there are plenty of old chips around, so no telling when this was actually made, 90s? 2Ks? I find it impossible to believe that this is more than a handmade repro. Hope you didn't get stiffed for too much.

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How much would a real proto be worth? I remember years ago (about 20) I would go to my neighbors house to play games. He had a vectrex with a handful of games and I distinctly remember playing dark tower. Sadly, he passed away shortly after I moved and I have no idea what happened to his vectrex and games. Don't think he had any family.

 

Just curious how much it would be worth. I know it's out there somewhere.

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I would guess somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5-2k. Highly desired, and there are a few rumors of copies leaking out. I don't think it could reach Mr. Boston prices, as there was never a box or overlay produced.

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Around 1984 I bought a Vectrex with a bunch of games from a guy in the San Fernando Valley, CA. He said he was a programmer and it came with some protos including Dark Tower. He included some kind of binary dump printout which he said was a map of the location of everything in the game. I remember studying that map and comparing it to the game and not being able to figure out how to get to anything on the map nor what anything on the map was.

 

There was also a proto of a game that said "oh, no! Molly!".

 

I had no idea the significance of protos back then.

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I don't believe there is any way or difference between a prototype that may have been made by the people who were making the game and one that somebody would make today by putting the program on a ROM besides the that we have better equipment today.

 

I have been in the video game industry since '88 and I was involved in making some console games back in the cartridge days. For example I worked on a few NES games such as Pacmania, Vindicators and Dragonstrike.

 

A prototype is nothing more than the programmer burning the latest build onto a ROM that was stuck into a empty case so that it could be tested. It isn't anything official, that is the whole meaning of the word prototype. They weren't labeled officially or anything, it was just something to test with. I have a "prototype" Tengen (the name Atari used to make NES carts) Tetris game. It is just a ROM on a board in a black un-labeled case. We were developing, I think, Vindicators and another game for Tengen while they were working on Tetris before they lost the second lawsuit with Nintendo. They sent us a prototype so we could check it out and I somehow wound up keeping it all these years. By the way, it was a much better version of Tetris that the one Nintendo rushed out.

 

Speaking about Dark Tower specifically, the story I heard about this game when I bought it back in the early-mid 90's was that it was a legend. There were people who believed that it didn't exist at all. Occasionally there would be some discussion about it on some online forum and one of these discussions was found by the programmer of the game. He confirmed that the game did exist but the market collapsed just as they were finishing the game. He said it was finished and to prove it, uploaded the program.

 

I unfortunately can't find this story online anymore, and looking for it is how I found this website. I think it was on Sean Kelly's website or in his newsletter. He is the guy I bought my Vetrix, master 'multi' cart and Dark Tower from. I think he owns a store in Chicago now and is one of the organizers of the Classic Game Expo. I do know that Dark Tower was never put into production / manufacturing which is when the labels and such would be made that would separate it from just a ROM on a board.

 

-Joseph-

www.working-as-designed.blogspot.com

Edited by joseph4th

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Prototipo de torre oscura con su superposición, es perteneciente a un trabajador director que trabajaba en la casa MB y se presentó en nuestra tienda para vendernos una vectrex con todos los juegos del catálogo así como las gafas y light pen ..

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Wow, eso es increíble!  El cartucho no es algo que no haya visto antes, ¡pero la superposición es lo que más me impresiona!  Parece que la superposición es calidad de producción.

 

Muchas gracias por el photo!

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