The Sega Genesis has had many classic games at its disposal. The Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage, Mortal Kombat and Golden Axe trilogies, Phantasy Star II and IV, Ecco the Dolphin and its respective sequel The Tides of Time, and . Another classic is Vectorman, a game about a robot that fights for justice in an unforgiving universe full of robotic beasts. For its time, and given the limits of the Sega Genesis’ hardware, it had some high quality graphics and a pulse-ripping techno soundtrack to give this game some oomph in the aesthetic department. In the gameplay department, it’s certainly no slouch there.
When Earth has been polluted to the point of being unliveable, citizens have been sent on a migratory cruise to Mars, leaving robots or “orbots” to clean up the mess the human race left behind. A high powered robot by the name of Raster is accidentally attached to a nuclear missile, and he goes crazy, becoming a dictator by the name of Warhead. He influences all of the robots to cause chaos and destruction, and vows to destroy any and all humans who return to Earth. Vectorman was away delivering sludge while all of this was happening, so when he comes back, he realises that he is the hero needed to save the Earth from Warhead’s cold hard iron rule.
However, Vectorman is alone in his mission to save the world, as the world is against him. Thankfully, his hands have the ability to shoot photons, which becomes a valuable asset when dealing with robot anarchy. On top of his regular shots, he can fire rapid shots, spread shots and spiral shots if he can find them within some of the TVs that he destroys, and while they’re more useful in destroying armies in a quicker manner than the default photon shooter, they only last a limited amount of time. Now, that would seem annoying, but having it so that you’d lose the upgrade upon death would make the game a little too easy – not that this game is a walk in the park or anything since you’re not given any continues, so if you lose all of those lives, it’s back to the title screen with you, but other than that, its difficulty doesn’t match the likes of Ecco or Contra. There aren’t any ball bustingly hard bosses and millions of enemies at once to fight against. You just have to contend with not losing all of your health as you don’t get any hit points back upon entering the next level.
Also within the TVs are other power ups that transform Vectorman into different things, like a drill, a bomb, a parachute, a fish, and a car. Three of the four are used to smash through different solid platforms so that more of the level can be explored and extras like point multipliers and extra health can be found to stand more of a chance against Warhead’s anarchy. The parachute and fish power ups are pretty self-explanatory. This is fairly cool, since most of the levels are pretty big
He must shoot, run and jump through 16 levels as he contends with the rebelling robots. Three levels give way for some variety, like two auto-scrolling levels and a level where he’s spinning like a tornado, avoiding mini tornadoes, and having to shoot a robot within a shield that moves around with a gap in it. These three levels feel more like mini games and little distractions as they’re much shorter than the other thirteen levels – in fact, that level I just described to you only lasts up to a minute. Even though the other thirteen levels never feel redundant since the graphical settings and the levels’ songs are different for each level with their own flair, it’s just nice to change up the gameplay a little, just to make it feel even less redundant.
As far as visuals are concerned, you don’t have anything to worry about. The enemies and Vectorman sport a pseudo-3D look to make them look more realistic, and to also really push the aging system’s limits – this was released in 1995, which was about the same time the Sony Playstation was released worldwide, hammering some nails in the coffins of the Genesis and Super Nintendo. The animations are very fluid. From Vectorman’s moving to the flapping flags, there’s a lot of attention paid to detail, especially where they could’ve just been lazy and put half the frames in to satisfy a deadline.
The soundtrack also fully utilised the system’s capabilities. Techno tracks that surprisingly differentiate themselves from one another that are suitable to a game about a robot destroying other robots are something I’d praise without hesitation. Easily one of the best soundtracks you’ll hear from a Sega Genesis game.
Tense gameplay with some big levels to kick some ass in, with some varied power ups and gameplay that won't get old anytime soon.
Quick to respond and quick and easy to learn. Not much else. You can even screw about in the logo screen. That's pretty cool.
Subtle environmental message backed up by a plot to overthrow tyranny, which is pretty cool if you ask me. It's also quick to remind us of what the future holds, since even 15 years later, we're still quick to pull this kind of stuff off...
Fluid animation with some 3D looking models for all but the backgrounds... remember when this was considered cutting edge? Even today, it still looks awesome.
The soundtrack is full of ass kicking and doesn't hold back for even a second, and the same is said for the sound effects.
It stands 16 levels tall, and thanks to its sharp difficulty, you'll be kept coming back to finish this baby off. It keeps you magnetised throughout, since you'll probably come back even after finishing the game.
How can you deny that this is fun? You're going through big levels, shooting enemies down with photons, and using different power ups (more and more if you explore more) to keep up with ass kicking.
Critics loved it; gamers loved it... where are all of the Vectorman sequels? What, just the one that’s also on the Sega Genesis, released in 1996 when the 3D gaming consoles – Nintendo 64, Playstation and Sega Saturn – were establishing themselves as household names all over the world!? What are they thinking, treating this awesome robot like trash!? Oh well, this was still a very good game that holds up quite well today. If you see this in a flea market, don’t hesitate to buy it.