Critic Reviews add missing review
Average score: 85% (based on 22 ratings)
Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 43 ratings with 2 reviews)
The graphics are sharp and interesting, and the animation is fluid and detailed. Clearly inspired by the CG-produced graphics of Donkey Kong Country—as the game was made as an answer to that particular title—they never-the-less do a remarkable job of being a showpiece for the Genesis. Background animations are energetic and smooth adding depth and a sense of life to the stages and environments. Due to the smaller color palette and more subdued colors of the Genesis, the game, thankfully, doesn’t look like a direct copy of Donkey Kong Country. The colors here are darker, more subdued—perhaps a tad melodramatic in direct opposition to the bright and cheery colors found in DKC. They may not be quite as attractive and pretty here, but at least they still look impressive and have their own feel.
Bosses are generally creative and visually impressive. The final boss and boss battle is especially impressive. And, the boss battles are somewhat less repetitive and overly predictable than those found in Donkey Kong Country.
There are a lot of creative stages that are often wildly different than the side-scrolling run-n-gun stages that permeate the bulk of the gameplay. Not that I’m against that run-n-gun gameplay, don’t assume that! I’m a huge fan of run-n-gun titles and games like Contra, Metal Slug, and Gunstar Heroes. As a matter of fact, the run-n-gun gameplay in Vectorman is extremely satisfying, and a pure blast to go charging through. The creative stages involve things like bizarre pseudo-3-D overhead levels with Vectorman crawling across the ground to dodge giant fists, and another with Vectorman as a train-type vehicle trying to shoot down a giant robot hanging from beneath the tracks. The really cool part of that latter stage is that it takes place from a changing isometric over-head perspective. There are several stages like this that add a different flavor to the gameplay.
Control is sharp and responsive, as one would hope to find in such an action-packed title. Vectorman has a wide variety of interesting items at his disposal in the guise of transformation abilities—a gimmick no doubt related to his being made up of floating balls. He can transform into a kind of spinning top item with the ability to drill through certain floors, a type of car (or possibly motorcycle) to crash through walls, the ability to fly for a time, a swimming ability, and even an item that turns Vectorman into a bomb to open up new areas. There is also a huge variety of weaponry at your disposal including machine guns and contra-like spread guns. These are all acquired from the various TV monitors hanging all over every level.
Speaking of the monitors, there are a bunch of things in each stage to collect or destroy. There are glowing-spark type items to collect in every stage. Think coins from Super Mario or just about any other platformer that wanted to copy Super Mario. It’s stuff to collect that adds to your score, and increasing score is one of the ways to earn extra guys—which, if you’re not using cheat codes—you’re going to need. On top of which, the game keeps track of how many monitors you destroy in each stage, which again, adds to the score at the end.
The game is loaded with action—which is of course, part of the run-n-gun formula. Platforming elements are fairly basic and not overt challenges, which is good. This keeps the focus on playing with speed, and keeps the flow of the action fairly constant. The game is also rife with bombastic explosions—things that shake up the screen so much that even the information bar at the bottom seems to get in on the quaking. Despite the puny sound available in the Genesis (the SNES was the audio powerhouse of the generation), the game never-the-less features some minor voice work and some excellent blasts to accompany those screen-shattering explosions. The vibrancy of the action is such that I found myself wishing the Genesis controller had rumble abilities built into the thing.
Ample cheat codes are present buried within the title, if should you dare to use them. The cheat codes are great for those of us without the skill or time to hassle with the game’s overall hefty difficulty. However, the game is not without its reward for effort: Using cheat codes automatically prevents the gamer from reaching the “good” ending to the game.
On top of this, there are three difficulty levels, and some other stuff to play around with in the options menu, such as music and sound effects, and a controller set-up.
While the boss battles are deeper than in DKC, what with it’s “jump on head, dodge repetitive attack, repeat” set-up, many of them are just “shoot constantly and try to dodge boss character.” Many of them feel as though they require no real skill. Occasionally, there are some real cheap shots from boss characters where attacks or the boss character itself are shockingly difficult to dodge.
Each level has a time limit to it that is just obnoxious. While the gameplay encourages fast-paced run-n-gun gameplay, there are also exploration elements in the game that get sadly overlooked because, typically, any deviation from the straight running through the stage tends to work against the gamer with the timer as it is. Working against a time limit is a pet peeve of mine in video games as it is, since I typically see it as a kind of “forced speedrun” that is a cheap way of adding challenge to the game. There isn’t much room for exploration or item collection/destruction with the time limits given in this game.
The enemies tend to be reused in every stage, with minor exception. So, don’t expect many stage-specific challenges, enemy-wise.
The creative non-run-n-gun stages I mentioned? They're over almost before they begin. All of them are too short.
The impact and usefulness of the variety of special weapons is ruined by them lasting only a few seconds in the game before they're lost. On top of this, they often-times don't seem to have as much power to them as one would expect from super-temporary, fancy weapons. I was never in a position to face a boss while holding onto any weapon upgrade.
The biggest gripe I have with this game is while it does so much to be a forward-looking, uber-modern (at the time) title like Donkey Kong Country, it sadly clings to a set-up that was becoming obsolete during the latter half of the 16-bit era: It is a game intended to be played through in a single sitting, and can be completed thusly. No gradual progression, no saving of said progress, no playing for a few minutes and coming back later. Even during the 16-bit era, especially the latter half, this kind of game design was becoming dated. If one was to make a game that was, for all intents and purposes, a sign of a visionary developer looking to the future, then there’s more than just solid gameplay and pretty graphics to consider.
The Bottom Line
Vectorman, unfortunately, will always be remembered--especially by us older gamers who experienced the Great 16-Bit War--as "that thing that was Sega's answer to Donkey Kong Country." Which, while generally true, is never-the-less unfair to the man made of green balls. Vectorman is much more than an unfortunate Camaro to Nintendo’s Mustang. It’s a truly solid title and yet another game that keeps the Genesis so firmly planted in the minds of gamers when one talks of gaming’s “greatest consoles.”
I know I listed quite a few negatives, but bear with me: This game is much more than the sum of its parts and somewhat dated game design. It’s a pure blast to play—it’s fast, it’s hectic, it’s bombastic, and most importantly, it’s just plain old run-n-gun fun. It looks great and animates beautifully, and like I said, the effects added to the explosions are just awesome.
I didn’t mention the story because, well, while it’s not bad, it’s not really the focus here. It’s a lot cooler than “a lizard stole some monkey’s lunch” like in Donkey Kong Country what with its futuristic science fiction style. The negatives aside, the game is never-the-less fun and aside from lacking some kind of intelligent save system and having to deal with a generally awful timer system, it’s aged beautifully. If you’re a fan of classic Sega titles, this—as far as I’m concerned—is as important a title as the first Sonic the Hedgehog titles.
From a historical standpoint, the Vectorman is likely to always live in the shadow of the game that generally inspired it (that being DKC, of course), but get past that visage, and we have a truly fun title that generally deserves the praise it’s received through the years.
Genesis · by ResidentHazard (3554) · 2010
This game pushed the limits of the Genesis in terms of speed, graphics and sound. the controls were perfect. So perfect, that the game gives an impression of having complete control over how your character moves, even though he is moving on a two-dimensional surface. Everything that you get Vectorman to do is shown accurately with the encredible graphics. You can see a lens flare effect, a robot falling off a cliff and spinning to the ground exploding in a mess of metal parts, and hear the voices of enemies and Vectorman alike.
It is really hard to find a flaw in this game. I really only had one problem with it, and that was that the game was a little short. You can, of course, play the game over and over, trying to beat it on the wicked difficulty without dying, but if you want a game that will constantly offer new experiences, I wouldn't pay too much for this game.
The Bottom Line
This game stands out as one of the best games the Genesis has to offer, as well as an example of why you should keep your Genesis and sell your SNES. I would compare this game to Metroid, because it looks like a version of Super Metroid with encredible graphics, talking characters, high quality music, and perfect controls, but then I realized that there is no other game like Vectorman.
Genesis · by Mike Vollmer (2) · 2003