Alpha One: The Major Havoc Prototype
May 16th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I recently went to the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown and played a lot of pinball. I don’t know how the industry is doing as a whole, but when there is a convention center with a bunch of games, I’ll be there.

The newest machine was Wheel of Fortune, which I did not play, because it’s a pinball game themed after the Wheel of fucking Fortune. However, there were some arcade games there as well, including the prototype for Major Havoc, which is called “Alpha One.”

Major Havoc was the last color vector arcade game released, to the best of my knowledge. Vector monitors were never correctly debugged – they remain a pain in the ass this day for games like Star Wars, Tempest and Gravitar. If yours dies, well, good luck – nobody will ever spin them again. In fact, making some is one of the things I would do if I ever became moon-laser rich and crazy. They are rare enough that people will take a game completely infested in maggots to save it. So somebody bringing his Alpha One game (a prototype) to a public event like the Pinball Showdown was amazing and generous.

Naturally, I left my fiancé’s camera at home. And even more naturally, the showdown was nowhere near either my home or work. So I had to rely on the Milker’s cellphone for some photos.

The first one is of the control panel. I have never seen a real Major Havoc machine, but I did buy the reproduction roller, you know, just in case. The roller on the protype was definitely smaller, and not translucent:

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And then here are a couple photos of the cab itself (again, apologies for the poor quality):

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Even though I never shut up about it, I was still amazed at how different the game was in the flesh, as opposed to how Major Havoc plays through MAME. MAME really is a wonderful and amazing tool, and I am very grateful it exists, but the differences on the real hardware are obvious during the first play.

There is an extra mode in the prototype – a section somewhat like Star Castle. Major Havoc was released with just three (the Galaxian-like shooting stages, docking, and then the maze level), which was pretty advanced back then. All right, it wasn’t really that advanced, Donkey Kong had four, but still.

It’s a shame that vector monitors never really took off, as there were rumors of a color Vectrex unit in development at some point, which obviously never materialized because of the hundreds of advantages of raster (shakes fist) (flips keyboard).

One Response  
  • Bruce writes:
    May 17th, 20085:33 pmat

    Apparently these guys ( will make you a color vector tube. Yes, qty. 1.


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