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Video Game / Vangers

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Vangers: One for the road is a Russian Wide-Open Sandbox game created by K-D Lab in 1998. It can be described as a racing role-playing adventure game with a complicated storyline. It was praised for its unique atmosphere, freedom and innovative engine, but it had never become popular enough.

The first thing to hit the eye is the game's enormous Backstory. In a nutshell, the intelligent human "Spirits" have been contacted by the enigmatic Infinite Mind, and the technologies obtained from the contact have enabled the humanity to travel between worlds by creating the Passages. The worlds were systematically colonized by the enthusiasts, but then everything went horribly wrong when the Cryspo were discovered, which turned out to be something more than the usual beasts the humans have been casually hunting down during the colonization. The Clash ensued, and humanity was on the brink of extinction, and then, in desperation, an attempt was made to defeat the Cryspo using the genetic intrusion. Unexpectedly, it affected humans as well, and the results were not pretty: the "Softie" and the Cryspo were fused together, forming the freakishly unstable Bouillon of Spawn. The resulting biomass was evolving for eons, barely sustaining its existence, and eventually the genetic chaos gave birth to three different Bios: the Eleepods, the Beeboorats and the Zeexen. The only living things unaffected were the Larvae, which, before the Clash, were implicitly controlling the Cryspo with a complex system of pheromones. The new lifeforms have inherited the human mind and the Cryspos' instincts, which bind certain behavioral patterns to the smell of certain pheromones, and thus had stuck in performing pointless endless rituals to give their mind a twisted kind of purpose.


Now, disregard all that.

The Vangers are unknown entities bound to their mechos (autonomous all-terrain cars). Nobody really knows how they appeared and what they really are - their existence is just taken for granted. The Vangers play the role of truckers, traders, pirates - pretty much any role, as long as it is profitable. You are a newborn Vanger, and your only goal for now is to survive in this wicked world...

The game was succeeded by Perimeter, which, while being an RTS, used the same Verse and was partially based on the Vangers' voxel engine. It is currently being ported to Linux by its devoted community.


The game provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Machotine recharges in water and shoots compressed dirt and dust. Beebbanoza Blockade shoots beebs – basically, a money cannon. It's even more abnormal, given beebs are members of an insectoid semi-intelligent life form.
  • After the End: New game starts with several screens of text explanation. Current state of the game world derives from Earth people and an alien race they ran into during rampant colonization of other worlds. There was a thoughtless attack, escalation of conflict to the point of use of weapons of mass destruction indiscriminately, the link of to Earth was severed and all life that inhabit the current world is something different and reevolved after the original species were wiped out.
  • Alien Catnip: Cirt. It maintains the Bios' desire to perform their rituals, and is one of the most valueable goods at the Chain.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Arguable. While the Bios' speech does get interpreted as human speech, it could be a Translation Convention, as they all speak Simlish. Furthermore, every councilor has a totally different sort of Simlish, but it is implied that even different Bios can understand each other. Go figure.
  • All There in the Manual
  • Already Done for You: If you Take Your Time, some items from abandoned worlds may appear in the shops - other vangers find the items, but sell them instead of keeping. (How stupid of them.)
  • Awesome, but Impractical
    • The Iron Shadow mechos. It has an awesome shield regeneration, lots of armour, a large weapon slot, a big cargo hold, a fast engine... But is next to impossible to handle, as it tends to topple a lot.
    • The Crustest Cannon - it is incredibly powerful, and can even damage the underground mechos, but the shot is painfully slow, and flies in an arc, so it can only be used on cornered enemies.
    • The Boot Sector. Yes, you can own multiplue mechos; yes, you can be immortal with this thing. But when you use it you are transfered to the main escave. Into a raffa. Without the rubbox. With the Boot Sector that takes 3 of 4 raffa's cargo cells. All your cargo stays in your old mechos, and to get it back, you have to warp into that mechos again and throw it out, or destroy the mechos. At least it doesn't take your beebs. Also, warping to the main escave rewrites the autosave. And to drive the point home, the abandoned mechos are likely to be dismantled. Go ahead and leave your Last Moggy now. I dare you.
  • Bag of Spilling: Basically, every time you encounter a new Bios. It is avoidable, though.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The in-game terms are derived from both Russian and English words, so the bonus works both ways.
  • Blatant Lies: Some of the stuff that Boorawchick says like "The Buro invented escaves". Averted with Zeexen because they actually believe in what they say.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Green, Blue and Orange morality, if you wish.
  • Body Surf: You can casually steal the enemies' mechos with the Incarnator. Later in the game, you can also find the Boot Sector, which enables you to own multiple mechos and switch between them. Luckily, the other Vangers are not so smart.
  • Bounty Hunter: The Councilors sometimes keep a couple of these to deal with unwanted Vangers. You can also become one if you get an appropriate tabutask.
  • Bowdlerise: Valorin/Heroine. In original version, there's a pun on Hero and the infamous out-of-universe heavy drug (but not female heroine). The item is a common goods item of Beeborats. Per some of the in-game explanations, it's a shrunken beeborat too feisty for his own good, in a wrapping. Such sods are sent via vangers to a peripheral escave, where ritualistic sport games involve them in heroic suicides (not shown).
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The endings. Furthermore, the Spectors' one involves The Player Is the Most Important Resource.
  • Car Fu: The mechos are able to ram each other, jump, roll, swim, burrow and even fly when properly equipped. Oh, and did we mention the guns?
  • Creepy Doll: The Mechanic Messiah and The Leepuringa.
  • Cool Cars: It depends on how you look at the mechos.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The Eleepods' Vangers, larvae and goods are associated with green colour, the Beeboorats' are with orange, and the Zeexen are with blue. Also, every cycle has its own colour.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: The intro shows an Oxidize Monk gunning down an AtTractor with a Beebbanoza Blockade, which is not even supposed to be installed into that mechos.
  • Deadly Game: The Beeboorats' games are Bloody Hilarious. The contestants are meant to willingly mutilate themselves in a lot of creative ways, depending on the game. Ask Geer'AH for examples.
  • Determinator: Boorawchick. You can take him on the ride if you dig him from his escave. Then, you can drop him or lose in battle. He will get back to his escave eventually. He gets back without a mechos from another world. He would be very angry at you, by the way.
  • Disk One Nuke: The Leepuringa, which can be stolen from Leepky. It merely gives you +50 luck, and can be found early in the game. When you steal it, Leepky sends a heavily armed assassin after you. You can turn it to your advantage by using the boosted luck to find an Incarnator in high-leveled secret places and using it to steal the assassin's mechos. So you can wind up in a high-end mechos even before you win your first Eleerection.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Geer'AH will execute you for the smallest transgression.
  • Driven to Suicide
    • The Spread Spot mechos' description calls it a perfect mechos for a desperate Vanger willing to go out with a bang. Now that is Driven To Suicide.
    • Any Bios, if you supply it with all the Larvae, soon loses its purpose and dies.
    • If you pick the Parapheen's route, you're not told about the Thanatos Gambit (see below), so you have to figure it out yourself. While the councilors do drop subtle hints, you'll probably just kill yourself out of boredom, if you play for the first time.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Averted with the Beeboorats - you are given more respect as you rise through their ranks. Played straight with everyone else. Also, other vangers respect (read: run away if they are weak, hunt you down if they aren't) you more as your dominance stat grows.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Or the closest thing to it. It is not really hard to get it, but it's hard to figure out what to do.
  • Everything Breaks: One of the engine's gimmicks. Your every action affects the terrain. Jumping from under a bridge leaves a cartooney hole in it, the mechos leave tire tracks, the ground gets disfigured by explosions... It makes one wonder how the architecture of the Chain was still intact by the time you start playing. Luckily, storing all the terrain changes between saves is optional.
  • Fictional Currency: The Beebs - primitive insectoid organisms, which are borderline intelligent as at some point in the game it was mentioned that beebs hired a Vanger to do a mission for them. The worlds of the Chain are crawling with these things, and you can even catch them for money, but you'll soon get bored.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: Parapheen
  • Fragile Speedster: The Raffas have top speed and probably the highest energy regeneration ratio, so for them, jumping is almost a free action. That's their only positive side... Oh wait, they don't sink as well.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Quite frequent, but the special mention goes to the Tankacid. Its description says that the mechos melt in seconds if shot at with that thing. It also occupies 1 inventory cell. Your common sense might tell you to try and load your new toy into the terminator slot. Oh, wait... You can't. It's only meant to solve one puzzle.
  • Geometric Magic: Implied with Protractor, which draws various glyphs on the ground to activate its powers. Be this magic or Sufficiently Advanced Technology, the true origin of Protractor is unknown.
  • Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: The Eleepods, especially Leepky. Sadly, mostly Lost in Translation.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Last Moggy. It has 2 giant weapon slots, huge cargo hold and an absurd armour value. The description calls it "a wheeled escave", and that's not an exaggeration: you may want to carry a Degradator with you just to be able to enter some escaves. Its only downside is the shape of its cargo hold: it doesn't allow you to carry a conlarver. It was probably made this way just to keep the players from sticking to one mechos.
  • Interface Screw: The Wormer Terminators rotate your screen on impact. Not a pretty sight.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: If you bring all the Larvae to escaves.
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • If Geer'AH gives you a death sentence, you are given a special scene.
    • The Mechanic Messiah has a function designed to give you a Game Over.
  • No Fair Cheating: Surprisingly, in-game! Try to activate the aforementioned Mechanic Messiah's function, and you will be present a message that you, the Vanger, have failed the test and will be utilized. This makes sense in context, because this breaks the purpose of the Vanger program, to teach the self-learning AI, which will be loaded into Vanger in the future, by your - the player's - actions.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The Raffa can and will die from the slightest collision. You may even kill a couple accidentally.
  • Plot Coupon That Does Something:
    • The Protractor and the Mechanic Messiah are required to contact their owners. Outside of that, they are neat toys to play with.
    • Function 83+ is required to reach an otherwise unreachable world, and will make your interdimensional travels a lot faster and easier.
  • Poison Mushroom: The Amputators, Incarnators and Degradators are all designed to harm anyone who happened (or was forced) to pick them up after activation.
  • Rule of Three: Three Bios, three larvae for each, three cycles in every inhabited world.
  • Shrink Ray: While not really a ray, the Degradators qualify. They can be used both to shrink your enemies for a Curb-Stomp Battle, and to shrink yourself to squeese through tight passages. The Protractor has the self-shrink as a built-in function. Also, the Mechanic Messiah can turn you into a Beeb. You can use both of these functions simultaneously for hilarious effect.
  • Spring Jump: Every mechos has a built-in spring. Lighter mechos (like a raffa) can jump very, very far away.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: Any of the unique Mechos. You'll need one to convince Parapheen that you are "one" and get a key to Threall. 5.000.000 beebs will do the job just as well, but it's never mentioned beforehand.
  • Take That!: The Beeboorats' bureaucratic and paranoiac society, complete with Boorawchick's attempts to build a cult of personality looks suspiciously like Soviet Union's dark side.
  • Techno Babble: The Infernals' ending is full of it. Also, Parapheen, when he is not busy with Exposition.
  • Thanatos Gambit: To finish the game, you have to kill yourself with the Spummy on board.
  • Unwanted False Faith: Zeephra and her bunch worship the WeeZyk - the last Softie (or so she says). He would probably deny being a god, if he wasn't, you know, long dead.
  • Useful Book: Poponkas are clay tablets bearing Zeexen religious gibberish. B-Zone dwellers mostly use them as bricks and purchase them for less than they cost to buy. The Eleepods do appreciate their literary value.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can sell Elipod passangers and Eliks (Elipod infants) to Biburats to be used in sadistic games or as snacks. And, of course, you can murder every mechos you encounter, whether they are hostile or not.
  • Video Game Geography: The worlds are toroidal; the inhabited worlds are simulated as cylindrical with the use of mountains with repulsive properties - you are pushed away if you try to cross them. Using a Good Bad Bug (the beeb form is not affected by the repulsion) or mushroom jump can save you a lot of time here...
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Bios' desire for Larvae is the only thing that keeps them alive. Bring them all Larvae, and they will die.
  • Warp Whistle: Function-83+. Size of a standard Bios' goods item, enables an interface menu to warp to any world access key to which has been normally earned.
  • We Buy Anything: The bunches from secondary escaves can even buy cirt from another bios. It is deadly for them. Even worse — they can buy larva.
  • Welcome to Corneria: In Fostral escaves even a vanger who brought them two of three Larvae, thousands of Cirt portions and is otherwise overall one step from finishing the game, — will hear that Glorx is just a word, not for the likes of his weakling self. Patches
  • Wham Episode: The Xplo escave. After a chat with Parapheen you find out that there is more to the Chain than meets the eye, and just how frail the Bios' life is.
  • Witch Hunt: Beeborats. Very, very much.
    Boorawchick: So, did you find traces of the Buro's enemies there on Weexow? No? You should have searched better.
  • Wormsign: Terminator "Wormer" makes it. Also, mechos leaves one when burrowing underground with the Crotrig.