Sunday 2 June 2019

Vectorman (Sega Mega Drive / Genesis review)

Developer: BlueSky Software
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1995

Vectorman is a run 'n' gun game that's exclusive to Sega's 16-bit console.

There's 16 stages and your mission is to stop the evil WarHead and his orbots from manufacturing weapons to destroy the human race. Vectorman can shoot and double jump, but destroying enemies or TVs earns you power-ups (e.g. score multipliers), new weapons (e.g. rapid fire), or morphing abilities (e.g. turning into a drill or a bomb). While the level design isn't the most inspired part of the game, it's still tightly constructed and hunting for hidden areas and TVs is a blast; each stage is the perfect length to stop you from feeling overwhelmed and the time limit works great to increase tension by encouraging you to keep moving rather than leisurely searching the environment. There's a surprising amount of gameplay variance too, as while most stages feature left-to-right side-scrolling action, others task you with travelling upwards to reach the exit. There's even some fun diversions to break up the action including vertically scrolling battles on a train and treadmill style mazes! I do wish the developers did a better job of explaining what's required to succeed though; for example, Stage 11's survival themed Staying Alive actually calls for you to defeat the centre boss before time runs out! The weapons are varied and satisfying to use thanks to the powerful SFX and awesome screen shaking when enemies explode. Also of note is the detailed animation of Vectorman, as well as the realistic way flags move in the background. The bosses feature impressively large sprites, but the final confrontation is anti-climatic, especially after the penultimate three-part battle which is far more epic.

Vectorman is an impressive run 'n' gun title and it's clear that the developers squeezed every ounce of power out of Sega's humble 16-bit console. Thankfully, while its graphics and sprite work are stunning, the gameplay is just as enjoyable and there's plenty of variety in its stage design to boot.

Random trivia: A sequel called Vectorman 2 was released on the Sega Genesis in 1996.

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