Blast from the Past: Vectorman (Sega Mega Drive)
An old childhood classic of mine was Vectorman, a green robotic hero whose sole purpose is to help save the world one way or another. To my surprise, the game turned 20 last month (US release) and which was a good enough reason for me to play it again.
Vectorman, for the uninitiated, is a Wall-e-like robot; it’s main purpose in life is to help clean up planet Earth so that humans can return. He’s not the only robot though, so he’s not lonely like Wall-e was.
Things go awry when the helper robots accidentally equip a peaceful robot with a nuclear weapon, which turns it into Warhead, the main villain of the game. Warhead then controls the minds of all other robots, except for Vectorman (because he was not on the planet at the time). You can pretty much figure out the rest on your own.
Despite being 20, the game has aged remarkably well. Both the visuals and sounds still hold up today. It’s not as brilliant, obviously, but the workmanship shows itself. I was stunned to see such brilliant animation, flags in the backgroumd move in a life-like fashion, the background images accurately depict a specific location and the sounds that go with it, matches very well.
At its heart, Vectorman is a side-scrolling platformer with some action in it. What made this game different to the many platformers of the time, was that the hero could transform.
Unlike today’s games, you need to collect temporary boosts in order to transform. These can be found by destroying little TV sets scattered throughout the game. Once collected, you can instantly transform. These are mainly used to either get through the level faster or unlock hidden areas in the game. In addition to that, there are bonus levels to visit.
What caught me off-guard was the difficulty. It’s tough, really tough. On normal, you’re given 3 lives to start with. It’s up to you to find more lives and if you don’t you probably won’t finish the game. It’s easy to get killed, but what makes it really difficult,and irritating, is the fact that there’s no continue or Save/load system. Before you shoot me, I’m well aware they wouldn’t have any 20 years ago, but passwords were given as a means to jump to new levels. Vectorman doesn’t have any, meaning if you run out of lives, you start from level 1 all over again.
Luckily there’s an ‘easy’ option to pick, which gives you more lives. The controls take some time getting used to – a side-effect of playing with a PS4 controller for quite some time. Once you’re comfy with the controller again, Vectorman is fairly easy to control.
Things also stay fresh because the usual gameplay formula changes often. Most of the time you’ll be in a straight up side-scroller screen, but some levels put you in a top-down mode. These are interspersed and keeps the game from becoming repetitive and stale.
Vectorman was and is still a great game. It’s proof that developers can create lasting games that can be enjoyed by any generation. However, I wouldn’t object to a reboot.