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Vectorman – Sega Genesis

Vectorman – Sega Genesis

vectorman box artPlatform: Sega Genesis

Developer: BlueSky Software

Publisher: Sega

Release Date (NA): October 24, 1995

Genre: Run n’ Gun, Platformer

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Too little, too late? Or just on time? Vectorman may have been released just 6 weeks after Sony launched the heralded PlayStation and a short 4 weeks prior to the Sega Saturn’s debut, but that didn’t stop the critics and fans from making their rounds with the tough-as-nails, yet oddly lovable, Vectorman in his eponymous debut.

vectorman-usa-europe1995 was a great year for video gaming but unfortunately too many folks overlooked this rock-em-sock-em run n’ gun classic. Regardless, Vectorman received critical acclaim as it rode the Sega Genesis’s universal success all the way to the very end. It’s easy to forget just how insanely popular the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis were. People were playing these systems well into 1996 and 1997, despite the success of the PlayStation, Saturn, and N64. So how did Vectorman get so much playing time in such a crowded gaming console backfield?

Simply put, Vectorman was brilliant in all of the most important areas. The box art was captivating with its edgy futuristic style and soft flat colors. Fans of Iron Man would be thrilled (if they weren’t upset about the minor robotic similarities). While the box art is always a major draw, rarely is it an accurate representation of the actual game (looking at you Mega Man). But in this case, Vectorman looks just like this in actual gameplay. There’s so much mystery and excitement on the cover art that you can’t help but pick up your classic black 3-button controller and at least give Vectorman a shot.

vectorman 6

The objective is pretty simple and straightforward. Vectorman is a run n’ gun action-platformer hybrid, so it comes as no surprise that your goal is to traverse 16 futuristic levels, jumping on platforms, defeating enemies, collecting power-ups, and racking up points. Some might see the simplicity as a fault while others will praise the developers for keeping the overall design uncomplicated. I’m with the latter. But don’t confuse “simplicity” with “easy” because Vectorman is anything but. vectorman 5You might fly through the first couple of stages, but your resolve will be tested, I can assure you of that. But don’t we want a challenge? Isn’t that one of the reasons we keep going back to the games of yore? While Vectorman never crosses the threshold of wildly frustrating difficulty the way Battletoads and Ghosts n’ Goblins do, it does present gamers with significant and noteworthy challenges as the game progresses.

We can all get behind the fun concept: Run around and shoot shit, jump on platforms, blow up monitors, transform into bombs and fish and such. But that’s just the yellow moist cake. The icing on said cake is the graphics. Hands down. Pre-rendered 3D graphics reminiscent of the Donkey Kong Country series provides the Genesis with its own enhanced next-generation-esque hero. I don’t mean to be too glowing when I talk about the graphics, but they really are quite spectacular considering the hardware for which it was produced. By using pre-rendered 3D models, we now have a sense of 3D gameplay on a 2D plain, something uncommon in its day on a 16-bit console. One could say that Vectorman 1 and Vectorman 2 have the looks of an early development title for the 5th generation systems.

vectorman 3Other than having outstanding graphics, Vectorman is acclaimed for its controls, sound effects, and soundtrack. I am a big fan of the controls as its simple approach is the best part. With just 2 buttons, you can jump and fire your weapon, but there’s so much more to it than that. Vectorman possesses a double jump using boosters under his feet, and while in the air, he can fire his gun downwards to slow his descent. I love the creative ways in which the controls are utilized without crowding the control pad. Besides having an excellent scheme, the controls are very tight and responsive. Vectorman himself, being an orbot and all, feels very heavy, and his weight is noticeable in the feel of the controls. An outstanding achievement for an established, yet still growing company.

With all of the emphasis on the game’s development, the history of its release, its remarkable graphics, tight controls, and brilliant sound effects, what more can I say about Vectorman? Well, essentially, one major area that I haven’t covered yet is the overall feel of the game. I’ve played countless games that are set in the “future,” but many of them lack the true feel and tone of a futuristic gamevectorman 7. Instead of just using the backstory as the set-up and nothing else, Vectorman lives and breathes the backstory! In lieu of an insanely over-populated bright and shiny technologically superior future, we see Earth as a rundown, trash-ridden, and gloomy wasteland. It’s gritty, but it’s so on point. The colors are flat and dark, yet they compliment the game’s tone with precision and accuracy. Simply put, Vectorman walks the walk.

If there was one area for improvement, it would be the enemy sprites. The game lack’s true diversity in enemies as it repeats the same enemies from one stage to the next over and over again. It would have been nice to see a greater variety in enemies, not to mention the inclusion of MORE enemies at any given time. I can’t say for sure, but I can speculate (the perks of writing for Nerd Bacon) that perhaps the lack of enemy variety and quantity is related to space constraints on the cartridge or the ability for the hardware to process all of the sprites without slowing down the framerate. I would guess that the focus on sharp and crisp graphics and detailed sprite movement took precedence over enemy variety and quantity.

Vectorman is proof that a great game requires a combination of quality ingredients, and one missing ingredient (i.e. poor graphics, bad sound, shoddy controls) can ruin the final product. Fortunately for gamers everywhere, developer BlueSky mastered the art of creation instead of following an olde recipe. Sure, the concept might be somewhat tired, but there’s just enough spice here to give this action platformer a completely new taste profile. They set out to be different, and the execution was near flawless. Instead of giving us another animal hero in colorful candyland, we’re presented with a gritty badass orbot (a robot made of orbs) who is fighting for peace on earth! I love the approach and it’s definitely something I can get behind… and did!

I’ve been a fan of this game for almost 20 years now. It’s a mainstay in my Genesis rotation as is Vectorman 2 to a lesser degree, and I hope you give it a try. Besides playing the original, Vectorman can be found on the Wii Virtual Console, and it has been ported to numerous compilation sets including Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, Sonic Gems Collection, and Sega Genesis Collection.

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

vectorman (1)

So what are you waiting for? What do you think about Vectorman? Let us know in the comments below!


Written by Nerdberry


What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.


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One Comment

  1. SO MANY HOURS spent with this game! This may have been my 2nd most played game on the Genesis next to Sonic 2. Tons of fun, until it becomes impossible!


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