# 8 – Vectorman (V for Vendetta.)

System: Sega Genesis

Release Date: October 24, 1995

First Played: 1996 (Owned Summer 1998)

Status: DEFEATED – November 6, 2014

On November 21, 1994 video game history was made when Donkey Kong Country was released exclusively for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It is the first solo adventure for Mario’s one time rival, which may seem odd since the character had only been around for over a decade! It is a solid platformer, and contained ground breaking graphics, pushing the SNES’s 16-bits to its limit and beyond! But while gamers everywhere rejoiced, Sega began to feel the heat. This game on the “inferior” SNES was selling like hot cakes, outselling games not only on the 16-bit Sega Genesis, but the 32-bit Sega 32X and Sega CD! This was a devastating blow for Sega during the epic Console Wars of the 90’s. Sega needed a hit to combat the Jungle Hijinx of Donkey Kong…they needed a hero…Enter Vectorman.

Like Donkey Kong Country, Vectorman pushed the limits of the Sega Genesis’ processing power, but where Donkey Kong was a gorilla running after his banana horde, Vectorman was a shape shifting, laser firing robot from the future who was the only hope for preventing the extermination of the human race by a sentient nuclear warhead!!! Plus, to sweeten the pot, some cartridges would show a phone number after you beat the game (without cheating) to give you a chance at winning $25,000.00!!! Once again, Sega was throwing out a lot of bells and whistles, but is this game worth going ape over…or is it just bananas?

When First We Met…

I remember seeing a commercial for Vectorman that made me OBSESSED with it…

Please note: This commercial showed ZERO seconds of ACTUAL GAME PLAY!!!

Those graphics!! That cool 90’s extremeness! What nerdy-soon-to-be-13-year-old-boy wouldn’t want this? Alas, as was common when popular games first came out, my go to rental place Jumbo Video couldn’t keep them on the shelves. I remember a couple of birthday parties that I went to where this was a favourite, but I was always at the back of the line waiting my turn, watching this game, much like I watched the commercials. By the time it was my turn I either had to leave or I was busy getting a second (fine, fourth) slice of cake! This song and dance would continue for at least another year, until by chance I found a used copy at the local K-Mart… vec 31
OOOhohohOOHH!!! It’s so shiny!! Then my eyes catch the bottom corner….”YOU COULD WIN $25,000″!?!?!? A $20 price tag for the chance to win that kind of sweet, sweet cash?! Done and done! So, off I went to pop it into the ol’Sega Genesis. The Sega logo pops up and Vectorman appears; he lands on the logo but just on the edge so he starts to flail his arms, desperately trying to keep his balance.

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By reflex, I push sideways on the controller and am shocked to discover that he’s moving around! Fun! I take this opportunity to get used to the controls. A and B are your fire buttons with C as jump; pressing C twice activates jets in your feet that give you height for a nice double jump (though I would soon discover that the controls were adjustable; I picked A fire and B jump with C as an extra fire button I wouldn’t end up using). After a quick logo for one of the game designers, the intro plays! This funky techno music starts to play as Vectorman’s logo spins in all its 3D glory in the centre of the stage! Suddenly, orbs blast onto the screen spelling out the games title.

 vec 33
WWWHHOOOOOAAAA!!

You can then check out the options, which contain music, control options as well as difficulty levels; Lame, Wicked and INSANE!! Lame please! After pressing start, you’re greeted to a few pages of text and pictures that explain the games back story: The year is 2046 (Just 32 more years!!), the earth is completely polluted so humans create “Orbots” to clean up the mess while they explore the galaxy for other planets fit for human habitation. An Orbot named “Raster” whose job is to oversee the cleaning of earth, is accidentally hooked up to a live Nuclear Warhead and goes completely insane; taking control of all the Orbots on earth and becomes an evil dictator named “Warhead”! Warhead starts to make plans to annihilate the humans once they return…

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As luck would have it, Vectorman was off planet delivering garbage to the sun (that’s a really good idea actually) and therefore was not affected by Warheads brainwashing. Seeing the state of things upon his return, Vectorman vows to rid the earth of Warhead, and save the human race.

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After, you’re thrown right into the first level only they are referred to as “Days”; this is “Day 1: Terraport”. Already I’m impressed by the visuals; there are some flags nearby that flap in the wind which are very well animated, you can actually see the wind ripple through the material. The background is a cloudy sky which floats by, mimicking the speed of the wind through the flags. They are dark and slightly foreboding, foreshadowing the trials and tribulations that are to come.

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Above there is a TV hanging from some wires; these are scattered throughout the game and provide you with any one of the following: Weapon Power-ups, Transformations, Sparks, Health, Extra Lives, Mid-Way Check Points, Extra time, Life Bar Extensions and Multipliers (X2, X3, X5 and X10; more on that later). The TV’s take several hits to destroy, the more damage you deal, the faster they spin. They make a fun ricochet sound that compliments the “Pew Pew” of Vectorman’s main weapon. This one lets out a shower of “Sparks” that you can collect throughout all the levels; they don’t give you any added powers or abilities, just points.

Heading right I run into the first bad guy, some big hulking brown robot!

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These guys are big and bad, but slow and not that bright. They fire powerful blasts at you; get to close and they’ll pound you with their massive fists! They’re anything but difficult though, I just duck to avoid their shots and blast away until they explode. I really like the exploding sound, but it’s hard to describe…it’s more like imploding or a robotic mimicry of getting the wind knocked out of you, if that makes any sense! I come across another TV and get my Favourite Weapon Power up, a Wide Shot Canon!

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It’s hard to tell, but trust me, the shot is wider!

Your “pew pew” laser sound turns into a “BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM!!!!” and it covers a much wider range, I’m able to blast my way past insect drones and laser turrets with ease, though these Weapon Power-ups only last maybe one minute tops, depending on how much you’re firing. Speaking of running out of time, I look at the bottom of the screen and notice the timer. I only have 5 minutes to get through this level, well, less than 3 now! Geeze!!! I have no way of telling how much further I need to go, so I just start running and blasting! Eventually I bust open a TV that contains a spinning grey cube with a picture of…a pineapple on it…? I touch it and Vectorman suddenly shrinks in size and becomes a tiny hand grenade! OOHHH, that makes more sense…

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There is a ticking sound; I guess I only have a limited amount of time before I go off! Next to me there is a wall with several cracks on its foundation…hmmmm…if my experience with The Legend of Zelda franchise has taught me anything it’s Bombs + Cracked Walls = REWARDS!! Vectorman goes off with a bang and some seizure inducing flashy fireworks, sure enough, the wall is gone and close by is an orb that increases by life bar from 4 balls to 5! Hazza! Off I run as time is quickly slipping away, where I run into an open void…throwing caution to the realistic wind special effects, I jump, and fall an incredible distance until I hit the ground unscathed…that is until the boss shows up!!

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A massive air plane with a wrecking ball on the tip of each wing descends towards me. Suddenly, it starts strafing left are right, dropping bombs as it goes! It moves quickly and I barely land a shot. I discover that you can only deal damage when its bomb hatch is open. Dodging the bombs would be ok if I didn’t also have to dodge the wrecking balls! Unsurprisingly, I die, but I still have a couple of lives remaining. Fortunately, I’m able to develop a pattern of firing and dodging and eventually the plane shudders and falls to the ground defeated! I’m rewarded points on how many TV’s I destroyed, Sparks collected and time remaining as the plane gradually falls apart. Vectorman also strikes a Richard Nixon double peace sign pose in celebration, just one of the many little quirks that Vectorman does while he’s waiting around, my favourite is one where his chest falls down to make it look like he has a pot belly. He acts surprised and pulls his belly back up to his chest!

The next “Day” is a drastic change in game play!

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Toot Toot Bitch!!

Vectorman has changed into an old timey train! Fun…but shouldn’t he be some kind of futuristic train, since…you know…this is the future? You ride along tracks that appear to be thousands of miles above the ground! Suddenly, WARHEAD dives up from the ground and grabs onto the tracks!! AND he brought some sort of orbital guns that are on either side firing at me! AND I only have 1 minute to pass the level!! GGAAHHH!! I start firing wildly; Warheads hands are the only thing that I can hit. I also notice that my life bar did not refill, my damage from the last level carried over and I only have one ball of health left! So you guessed it, I died. I succeed on my next try, my plan of pressing the fire button till my hand cramps and jumping like crazy works!! Warhead falls to the ground and the level ends. That battle was tough! I remember to my horror that I am playing on “Lame”. Good Gravy!! What the hell is “Insane” like?!?!? I’m guessing…insane…!!

The Next 2 “Days” are fun water themed levels, the fourth day ending in a double boss battle between a Robot Pelican and a Robot Polar Bear!!

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These guys look cool (pun intended!) but aren’t that hard; they’re more annoying, especially the Pelican! It’s really hard to land a shot since it flies by so quickly, luckily I was able to get a Wide Shot Canon which made it an easier target. The Bear is a piece of cake; I just kept jumping over him and shooting him in the butt.

Day 5 is visually one of my favourites!

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I remember being really impressed on how the light would change on Vectorman as he entered and exited the Arctic caves. Usually, the characters colour scheme doesn’t change in games form this generation. I really liked this and it added an extra touch of realism that blew me away! I make my way out of one of the many caves and find this thing…

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Hmmm, what’s that all about? I can’t destroy it; it looks like there is some kind of force field around it. Moving on, I fight a really weird looking shield robot…

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It’s called Marge……

I really like how this enemy looks but at the same time it kind of freaks me out for some reason!! If you try to jump over it, it will match your height and block you! Randomly jumping and firing like crazy is the only way I’m able to deal damage, I think I’m hitting the tail??? No idea. Well, whatever I did worked because its tail blows up and it starts walking towards me!! I look at the clock…LESS THAN A MINUTE??? Come on!!! I jump over it and run. Falling down a hole, I discover a secret passage that is filled with enemies! At its end however…

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Some kind of…device…and above me is the satellite from before!! 2 and 2 is slowly put together in my head…if I break the small thing…the big satellite thing can then also be braked!!! My hunch pays off; the level suddenly ends and I’m slapped into this mini game.

 vec 15
EXTREME!!!

I’m now a ball. On all sides of me, projectiles are being launched!! Pressing the D-Pad in any direction will send out a little dot that will destroy the projectiles. As time draws to a close (you only have 1 minute) the dangers move faster and faster!! Don’t die DON”T DIE!!!! I die. But, it doesn’t cost me a life!! I just get a “Loser Bonus”. Wow, thanks….jerk…I’m then sent to the next level, Day 6. So I guess destroying the satellite is a nice short cut to exit a level! Good to know! However, I would never be able to find another Satellite, as Day 6 is the end of my journey…and it’s because of this THING…

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WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS THING????? This is the boss of Day 6 and he’s impossible! His weak spot is…I guess you can call that a head…but when you deal damage, it spews out gunk that is impossible to dodge! Even when I had this really cool extra powerful Bolo gun, I could never cause enough damage!! I’d try this game time and time again but it would always end in failure…AND I WAS ONLY PLAYING ON LAME. Frustrated and intimidated, I left this game…never beating Day 6…never saving humanity…

Meanwhile in the Present…

As you may be aware, one of the stipulations I placed on myself as a part of this QUEST is, if available, I must play the game on the hardest level of difficulty…why did I make that rule!?!? I remembered having such a hard time with that one boss on Lame, how could I ever beat it on Insane!!!??? I kept putting this game off, shifting it around on my quest list, playing other games first. But eventually I beat all my Sega games…..EXCEPT FOR THIS ONE. So, I poured myself 3 fingers of courage to cut the edge, selected Insane, and readied myself for frustration…

First though I should say that on watching the intro to the game again, I can’t help but chuckle. I remember being blown away by these “3D” graphics. Obviously 3D technology has made leaps and bounds since Vectorman, so I guess I found them almost quaint in an odd sort of way. I’m not knocking the graphics, it’s just they seemed much more EXTREME in my mind’s eye than they do nowadays…

It becomes very clear from the get go that I’m in for a battle. All the enemies take far too many shots to kill! My former love for the “pew, pew” noise of Vectorman’s main weapon has turned into a “pewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpew!!!!!” I don’t even notice the music, I’m firing so often!! It kind of started to get to me after a while. It actually got to the point where I muted the game and started playing some 80’s montage music on Songza. The enemies, especially the flying bug bots are relentless!

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They appear out of nowhere a lot of the time and bomb the crap out of you!! It took me far too many game overs (no continues either by the way!!) to get to that monstrosity of a boss from before. And boy did I die a lot! However, I got a break, when I tried to jump over it to dodge its charge. When I was above its head, I did a double jump to lift me over; activating the rockets on my feet in the process…which to my wonder CAUSED DAMAGE!!! My feet rockets are weapons too??? A strategy quickly formed in my mind, and countless jumps later, this ugly MOFO is ready for the scrap heap!

“Day 7” is another level that transforms Vectorman into something and forces you to stay that way for one gruelling minute. In this case, Vectorman has turned into some kind of frog and has to attack Warhead’s giant hands, all while trying not to get squished by them AND all while trying not to fall of the ever creeping edge of the platform you’re on, sending you into an endless abyss…!!!

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Again, my strategy is just smash the fire button and hope to God he blows up before I die, fall to my death or time runs out. Luckily, it works on I continue on. The more I play and the further I get, I realize that there is an enemy far worse than the Brown Hulking Robots, or the weird fire extinguishers with teeth… vec 17
If you plan on wiping out the human race with THIS, then you’ve already lost…

…or this cool boss made out of tiny robots…

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You can’t catch me; I’m filled with tinier men!

OR ever Warhead himself!!! It’s TIME. Each level, all which are surprisingly vast and have many secret hideaways, or well hidden satellites, has an incredibly short time limit. I found that instead of enjoying the level, I just pushed forward as fast as I could; only dealing with enemies that absolutely had to be taken out, and naturally boss battles. Any kind of exploring I did would usually lead to me running out of time and losing a life, and let me tell ya, you need all the lives you can get in this game. This fact was proved true when I hit the second wall in this game…

vec 10 Vec 9 vec 11
These guys are at the end of “Day 14: The Underground Vault” just 2 Days shy of the final battle with Warhead. By this point in the game, I’m always down to 1, maybe 3 lives if I had an exceptionally good run. But I needed more lives and more time to figure out their attack patters! The flying robot was similar enough to the Robot Pelican from before, so I developed a stratagem that worked. The Robot Parana was a bit trickier; if you shoot him, he quickly shutters towards you kind of like some freaky ghoul in a ghost movie. I’d always take too many hits and by the time I’d get to the “Monkey” Robot, I’d die…and have to start the boss battles ALL OVER AGAIN.

I’d die constantly, and with no continues, I’d have to start from THE VERY BEGINNING OF THE GAME. Oddly enough, it was sheer frustration that lead to getting the advantage I needed…I had just lost to that fucking monkey for the umpteenth time and started Day 1 immediately. In exhaustion and maybe a slight period of meditation or prayer to the video game Gods, I closed my eyes, not realizing that my thumb was pressed on the down direction of the d-pad, making Vectorman crouch. When I open my eyes to give it another try, I noticed that, by holding down, the screen had shifted so I could see below me. I saw 3 TV screens directly under my feet. Hmmm, I never knew there was a room below me…how do I get there…??? I soon discovered that near the beginning of the level there is a drop; on the left side near the top of the drop is a ledge with an opening which you can double jump into if you time it right.

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There are a couple of laser turrets and Brown Hulk Bots and invisible platforms you need to navigate in order to get to where the TV’s are. After destroying a laser turret, it dropped a X3 power up. Told you I’d come back to this. What the “X#” power-ups do is multiply items by that amount, until the effect wears off. This means that, if you got a X5 and got a health orb, instead of filling you up one health point, it would fill you up 5 health points! The same deal goes for Extra Lives…which, low and behold, were obtained in two of the TV’s!!! So, let’s use math again, my X3 power-up made my regular 2 extra-lives turn into 6 EXTRA-LIVES!!!!! The remaining TV provided me with a jet pack transformation that let me blast my way more than halfway across the level, so I wouldn’t run out of time!! This was my edge; on average I could maybe accumulate 7 lives, now I was riding on 13!!

These extra-lives allow me to figure out the robot monkey strategy (stuff yourself into a corner and jump and shoot in its general direction like a mad man!!) and before I knew it, I had made my way to THE FINAL BATTLE WITH WARHEAD!!!

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Day 16: Twist and Shout…I’m in a tornado! Debris is flying everywhere. Visually, it’s intimidating, but the debris can be destroyed in one shot. Up and up I go until I eventually see some metal shingles which lie at the top of the storm, where Warhead waits…

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I start shooting wildly at Warhead, keeping to the far left of the screen. It’s here that I realize…wait a minute…should I be shooting an ACTIVE NUCLEAR WAR HEAD??? And while we’re at it, Vectorman is a robot garbage man, SO WHY DOES HE HAVE A GUN??? Pushing logic aside, I keep firing expecting a massive attack, but all of Warhead’s “missiles” don’t reach me. Eventually part of his face explodes and he starts to move around a bit. His exploded head drops a health orb…

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I’m pinned to the side of the screen unable to reach it! I keep shooting, Warhead occasionally bumps into me and I fall off my platform, only to be popped right back up by the wind, which is actually a great way to dodge his attacks! His face explodes a second time; I’m able to manoeuvre myself to the right side of the screen collecting several health orbs.

 vec 13
He ain’t looking so good!

I brace myself for a final onslaught from Warhead…watching carefully for a variation of his attack pattern aside from moving left and right and firing useless missiles…but it never comes. Warhead explodes and is defeated. Vectorman poses and flies around on a platform as the points are tallied. Ok, but that’s not the end; there’s going to be some last ditch attempt from Warhead!!…..some epic battle that will be hair-pulling-out-of-my-head crazy difficult!!! Then this screen pops up…

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I saved the human race……….…that’s it? THAT’S IT????? That was so easy!!! Why would a game full of brutal enemies, confusing labyrinthine levels and just stupid jerk-ass hard boss battles have THAT as the final battle?????? It was lame! It felt so isolated from every other aspect of the game!!! I’m then shown a montage showing all the enemies of the game…then some credits, my final score…game over…

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But maybe….MAYBE I’ll get a phone number that will pop up for me to call! Maybe Sega has been sitting on prize money for 20 years! I picture an old man in a room behind a desk covered in cobwebs with a single rotary phone on it just waiting for my call!!!!

No phone number pops up.

My dog looks at me and burps.

Fin.

Judgement:

This game is like a story teller who starts to tell you a really fun epic tale…but forgets the ending, and just kind of throws something together, hoping you won’t notice. The ending was lacklustre and quite frankly insulting considering all the time and effort I put into beating this game. But the one thing I found most frustrating was the time limit on each level. These levels are vast and have so many secrets and challenges to overcome; by slapping a 5 minute time limit (I think once it was 8 minutes, sometimes it was less) you restrict the exploration aspect that makes platforming games like this so much fun! I couldn’t appreciate the level designs because I was so focused and getting past all the 3D graphics!! The graphics I did see are still great, though hardly “3D” in the modern sense. I was able to catch some of the music, but I was honestly shooting things so much that nothing really stands out.

Also, I can appreciate the variety of levels, though some of the special transformation levels just work against you, like Day 11: Stayin Alive

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The controls are so wonky because he’s a spinning top and the mini tornados make it extremely difficult to line up a shot with the tiny opening that is revolving around Warhead. Not a fun time.

This isn’t saying that this is a terrible game. I liked how each day blends well into the next and you feel like you are actually travelling a great distance over many landscapes, not just playing different levels with different “themes”, with the exception of the transformation specific levels that is. And the variety of upgrades and transformations give you may unique ways to blow up baddies!

Should you play this? Yes, but don’t expect to be rewarded by the end. Looking at this now, I’m surprised that this was considered the “Answer” to Nintendo’s Donkey Kong Country. It’s really just another “Question”: How do you make a game with a lot of hype behind it and yet fail to deliver a truly satisfying experience? Answer: Vectorman.

So what do you think? Are you going to hunt down Vectorman and try to save humanity? Do you think you’ll find a cartridge with a winning phone number?? If you do, call it, maybe they’ll send you a “Sonic Boom” stuffed doll! Are you going to find the sequel Vectorman 2?? Sound off in the comments below!

Well, it’s been a long journey, but we’re going to say good bye to the Sega Genesis and move onto the Super Nintendo Entertainment System! Stay tuned next week for # 7…they’re lean, mean and green…well, two of them are green. It’s considered to be one of the toughest games for the SNES. Only a select few are able to hang out with this ULTIMATE TEAM!

Tah tah!

Adamus Prime

Prime Thumbs up

 

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