It is always confusing when you come across a game that you’ve never heard of before and it’s awesome. Why? Because you begin to wonder why you haven’t heard of it before! Why were these games not championed more by creators, critics, and gamers alike? I wonder whether Vectorman’s late arrival to the scene was simply overshadowed by the focus on the next generation of consoles. Had Vectorman been released just a year or two earlier, it may have been given higher regard by the gamer community.
Vectorman is a single player run and gun platform game developed by BlueSky Software and published by Sega. It was released on the Mega Drive in 1995 and would later appear on a number of compilations such as Sonic Gems Collection (2005) for the GameCube, Sega Genesis Collection (2006/7) for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable, and Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection (2009) for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It was also released on the Wii Virtual Console in 2007 and on Steam in 2018 as part of the Sega Genesis Classics Pack. It was also included on the Mega Drive Mini in 2019. For this review, I played dthe version found on Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection (2009).
In the year 2049, the Earth is one big cesspit of pollution and toxic waste. Humans decide to leave Earth and seek a new home to colonise. In the meantime, they create robots known as “orbots”, designed to clean up the mess whilst the humans are away. Raster, a highly advanced orbot, is accidentally connected to a nuclear weapon by a lesser orbot. This turns Raster from a benevolent orbot into the psychopathic machine known as Warhead. He is hellbent on ruling Earth himself and plans the execution of humans once they return to Earth.
Vectorman is a lesser orbot whose job is to clean up toxic waste and dispose of it in the sun. He was off planet when Raster became Warhead and returns to find the planet in a state of chaos. Vectorman decides that he should try to stop Warhead’s evil plans.
The game consists of Vectorman fighting his way through 16 levels, battling Warhead’s minions on the way. At his disposal is his built-in gun, which he uses to destroy the baddies or to blow-up the TV screens that offer power-ups. The weapon power-ups include:
- Rapid Fire: Keep the fire button held down to produce a continuous stream of bullets.
- Wave: Useful for killing enemies not directly in your line of sight.
- Bolo: Fires a bit rotating ball.
- Orb: Can be used only one and designed to kill all nearby orbots in a huge explosion.
- Nucleus Shield: Temporary invincibility. Once it runs out, you also lose your previous weapon power-ups.
Note: Shooting downwards whilst falling, will slow your descent.
Other power-ups include:
- Health Point: Fills one ball on your health indicator.
- Full Health: Fills all balls on your health indicator.
- Max Health: Increases number of balls on your health indicator.
- 1-Up: Gives you an extra life.
- Milestone: Should you die, you restart the level where you picked this up.
- Extra Time: Adds time to the count down.
- Photons: Pick these up for extra points.
- x2: Multiples points by 2.
- x3: Multiples points by 3.
- x5: Multiples points by 5.
- x10: Multiples points by 10.
Vectorman can also pick up morph icons that will transform him into other types of robots to help him advance in the level:
- Drill: Allows you to break through certain floors.
- Bomb: Explosion will kill nearby enemies and destroy certain walls and floors.
- Jet: Enables you to fly higher than you can jump.
- Fish: Enables you to swim faster than you can run.
- Missile: Enables you to break through certain ceilings.
- Parachute: Allows you to slowly descend with greater manoeuvrability.
- Buggy: Can be used as a battering ram to break through certain walls.
Vectorman has the ability to jump a little higher by tapping the jump button again whilst when he reaches the top of his initial jump. This will briefly ignite rockets in his feet which also causes damage to enemies.
Destroying satellite dishes allow you access to bonus stages. However, to destroy these you first need to find and destroy the shield generators which are hidden throughout the levels.
How Does It Handle?
The game is quite chaotic at times and there is a lot on the screen to take in, and at first, I had no idea what was going on. However, there is lots of fun to be had charging through the levels and blasting all the baddies. I feel it would have been better to have the view zoomed out a little more so that you can take in more of the level.
The Vectorman sprite looks awesome and the movements are incredibly fluid. When you move into dark areas, your sprite also goes dark, but you can still see red flashing lights on his body, face and extremities that remind us that he is a robot. This was a nice touch. I also liked the lightning flashes on Day 12.
Most of the backgrounds for the levels looked good, but I just felt that they lacked something. Maybe they just weren’t full of vibrant colour that I have been used to with so many Mega Drive games. Then again, maybe the drabness was to emphasise the polluted state the Earth is in. Even so, the flags flying in the breeze in particular look very realistic.
The game contains electronic techno dance music throughout which I though suited the game very well.
The game has three difficulty settings Lame, wicked, and insane which offers some relay value. However, although the end of level scores state whether you picked up all the photons and destroyed all the TV screens, there is no difference to the outcome of the game if you do destroy all TV screens and pick up all the photons. I think this is a missed opportunity to add something more to the game encouraging gamers to return to it.
Did I Complete The Game?
Yes, but so far, only on the Lame setting.
What The Critics Thought?
Electronic Gaming Monthly: “It seems like Sega has a new mascot. Vectorman offers graphics that make it look like it’s on a system other than the Genesis. The animation is really smooth. Surprisingly, VM excels in the control department. It doesn’t have anything really new, but it plays well. The gameplay is fast, and the action generally is intense but not frustrating. Think of Strider with a gun. The audio is just right. Overall 33/40“.
GamePro: “Your 16-bit system isn’t dead yet, and Vectorman is the reason why! This entertaining platform game is tough, but it rewards you with tons of fun. Overall 19.5/20“.
GamePro Editor’s Choice Awards 1995 – Best Genesis Game
GameFan’s 1995 Megawards – Genesis Game of the Year
GameFan’s 1995 Megawards – Best Genesis Action Platformer
“This is a fun game. Lots of charging through levels blasting everything in sight with an array of weapons. It’s a beautiful looking game with a solid soundtrack. My only criticism is the lack of replay value for me. Definitely worth your time though!”.
What are your memories of Vectorman? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.
 ‘Vectorman’. Electronic Gaming Monthly. (November 1995). Number 76:42.
 ‘ProReview – Vectorman‘.GamePro. (November 1995). Issue 76:70-1.
 ‘Editor’s Choice Awards 1995‘. GamePro. (February 1996). Issue 79:26.
 ‘GameFan’s 1995 Megawards’ GameFan. (January 1996). Volume 4 Issue 1:106.
 ‘GameFan’s 1995 Megawards’ GameFan. (January 1996). Volume 4 Issue 1:104.