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Video Game / Vectorman

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Well, it looks like the environmentalists were right. In the year 2049, Earth has become inhospitable to human life, thanks to all the littering and pollution, forcing humanity to escape to space in order to find new homes to inhabit. They leave mechanical "Orbots" behind on Earth, tasking them with cleaning up the planet for their return.

Raster, a high-level Orbot who watches the cleanup through a planetwide computer network, is accidentally attached to a working nuclear bomb by a lesser Orbot and subsequently goes insane, becoming an evil dictator named Warhead. He declares himself ruler of Earth, brainwashes all of the other Orbots, and begins preparing to execute any humans who dare return to Earth... not so fast!

Enter Vectorman, a humble Orbot in charge of cleaning up toxic sludge by discharging it into the sun, and since he was off-planet at the time of Warhead's takeover, he was not affected by his brainwashing. As he lands on Earth after his last trip, he finds chaos and confusion. Being the only Orbot left capable of challenging Warhead's rule, Vectorman takes it upon himself to destroy Warhead and restore peace to the Earth, destroying as many of Warhead's followers as he can.

In the sequel, Vectorman 2, having successfully defeated Warhead and put an end to his tyranny, Vectorman immediately resumes his sludge-cleaning duties. While on a routine garbage run, his barge is shot down by a mysterious missile. Evacuating the barge and descending down to the surface, he finds himself on the outskirts of a seemingly abandoned research facility overrun by a horde of mutant insects with unpleasant designs on the planet. Vectorman must find the intelligence controlling them and kill it to save the Earth yet again.

These games were released in 1995 and 1996 for the Sega Genesis, and were very well received by critics and players alike, not only for their then-amazing faux-3D graphics and cool techno soundtracks, but for being highly enjoyable games that weren't too hard to play. Part of the game's appeal was the entire design of the "Orbots" themselves - characters made out of several individual sprites (which, as the name indicates, were mostly spherical in nature) that could be rearranged in a variety of different ways. The gameplay played this up, allowing Vectorman to transform into a variety of different forms, arranging his orb sprites so that he resembled things like scorpions or tanks instead of a humanoid, each form having their own gameplay quirks (or even entire stages dedicated to them).

A third game for the PlayStation 2 was planned, but was ultimately cancelled. Since then, Vectorman's only appearances have been in various Genesis/Mega Drive compilations and—of all places—as an unlockable character in a mobile port of The House of the Dead: OVERKILL.

This video game contains examples of:

  • 1-Up: The player can gain extra lives by collecting pickups that are in a form of "1UP" text.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Warhead, the villain of the first game, was a peaceful managerial robot overseeing the decontamination of Earth, until improper maintenance lead to his head being replaced with a nuclear weapon and in turn, him becoming a genocidal maniac; converting all the other Orbots (again, meant to decontaminate the Earth for the benefit of mankind) to its cause. Averted in the case of Vectorman.
  • Ant Assault: In 2, the sixteenth level, "Recycle or Die" has giant fire ants as enemies, which attack by shooting fireballs. When Vectorman defeats them, they leave behind power-ups that temporarily allow him to shoot fireballs as well.
  • Big Bad:
    • The first game has Warhead, an Orbot who rules over Earth and plans to keep it inhospitable for humanity.
    • The second game has the Spider Queen, the source of the infestation on Earth.
  • Brain Monster: The final boss of 2 is a giant black widow spider with an exposed brain in her thorax. Sure enough, that exposed brain is her weak point.
  • Cheat Code: The code for moving anywhere you want is appropriately C-A-L-L-A-C-A-B (L meaning Left on the d-pad).
  • Chiaroscuro: Quite a few environments feature intense contrasts in lighting. Vectorman's sprite darkens or brightens to reflect this. Under the right circumstances, just using the Arm Cannon can generate a dramatically half-lit sprite.
  • Collision Damage: and lots of it. Most damage inflicted comes this way...for you AND the mooks.
  • Death by Cameo: In the background of Level 9 of 2, Warhead's disembodied head can be seen buried.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Finding a 10x power-up and then collecting a 1-up before it runs out.
  • Enemy Roll Call: All the enemies are listed in the closing credits if you beat the game without cheating.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: Occurs whenever you collect an item.
  • Every 10,000 Points: The score needed for your first extra life is 10K, 20K, or 40K, depending on difficulty level. Each additional extra life requires double the score compared to the previous.
  • Fat Flex: A variant; as Vectorman is an Orbot, sometimes when he does his Victory Pose, his chest falls and he pulls it back up.
  • Flash of Pain: Vectorman's blaster makes bosses lighten up...briefly.
  • Floating Limbs: The Orbots' limbs consist of floating orbs. As an animation for leaning on a wall, Vectorman in particular can pop out two orbs on its arm, and juggle them with the hand on that arm before tossing them back in position.
  • Game-Over Man: The Game Over screen for 2 says, YOU LOSE, and depicts the Spider Queen laughing at Vectorman before he falls apart.
  • Gusty Glade: The 16th and last level (briefly, before you reach the boss) of the first game, and the 18th level of the second. As a sort of Call-Back, the former is called "Twist and Shout", and the latter "Shout and Twist".
  • Hand Blast: The main weapon of Vectorman.
  • Harder Than Hard: "Insane" really can be, given the ONE life and 3 hits (those can be gone in a flash). "Wicked" for the second game fills this slot better, thanks to the overhard enemies.
  • Heart Container: The "Max Health" power-up fills your health meter and adds another HP to your limit.
  • Hornet Hole: It's not really a beehive, but levels 21-22 of the second game take place in some kind of egg-filled insect nest complex, which also has some Eternal Engine shades. The eggs that hatch contain enemies from every part of the game.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: There's "Lame", "Wicked" and "Insane". Replaced in the second game by "Lame", "Cool", and "Wicked".
  • Lethal Lava Land: Levels 5-7 of the second game.
  • Lens Flare: Probably one of the earliest examples of lens flare in a video game occurs during one of the ice levels.
  • Locomotive Level: Level 2 of the first game has Vectorman morph into a train to battle Warhead on a set of levitating tracks.
  • Logo Joke: The first game's Sega splash screen has Vectorman landing on the Sega logo and nearly losing his balance. You can actually control him fully here and there's a semi-hidden TV in the top right that has a smart bomb you can use to short out the logo. Not to mention the level skip minigame you can trigger. Vectorman nudges the letters of Genesis on the box art shown above.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Also an interesting weapon if used right. The second game made it harder for players to use the Mercy Invincibility by sending the player half a screen backwards with every hit.
  • Mercy Rewarded: Easily obtainable in some levels, thanks to the Double Jump.
  • Mini-Game Credits: In the first game, you can move Vectorman around the startup "Sega" screen. You can even damage it. It even functions as a sort of level skip. Bump into the logo and shoot it enough times and you get a letter-catching minigame. Catch enough and you can start the game on later levels.
  • Numerical Hard: In addition to how hard the rest of the game is, your difficulty selection determines the score needed to get an extra life (10K, 20K, or 40K to start and doubling with each additional extra life, as noted above), the number of lives you start with (4 on Lame mode, 2 otherwise), and the number of HP you get per life at the start of the game (5, 4, or 3).
  • No Fair Cheating: Use a single code anywhere in the first game, and you can't see the credits. This was doubly important when the $25,000 grand prize was the factor. You can cheat all you want to in the sequel.
    "Congratulations! Now do it without cheating."
  • Nonindicative Name: Vectorman is not a Vector Game.
  • One-Hit Polykill: The first game has a power-up called the bolo gun, a slow-moving shot which "crashes through enemy Orbots" and continues going through any enemies until offscreen or hitting a wall. It also has the possibility to push the enemy and hit it multiple times.
  • Palette Swap: The first game uses several palette-swapped versions of the first level's tileset in subsequent levels.
    • Can also be done to Vectorman himself in the second game by allowing him to get hit by a Paintbug. What's interesting about this is that whenever Vectorman's palette changes, so do those of the extra life icons (tiny versions of Vectorman) and any health items in the stage (spheres that share Vectorman's palette). This also happens in both games whenever Vectorman's sprite changes palette due to lighting, e.g. becoming dark when in shadow or being brightly lit by something nearby. The palette swapping of these things may have been intentional, or it may be a Good Bad Bug.
  • Power Copying: Most of the transformations in the second game come from power-ups dropped by enemies.
  • Pun-Based Creature: The sixteenth level of Vectorman 2, "Recycle or Die", has giant fire ants as enemies, which attack by shooting fireballs. When Vectorman defeats them, they leave behind power-ups that temporarily allow him to shoot fireballs as well.
  • Punny Name: Many of the level names are nods to (or puns on) 90's pop culture. Raster and Vector are graphics types. Raster is things like photographs, videos, etc, and vector is CGI dots-and-lines. Raster graphics break up into pixels when viewed too closely/blown up too big; vectors don't. The villain being named, (originally) Raster before getting too big for his breeches and fighting the incorruptable protagonist Vector, may be a reference to this.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Destroying floatin monitors yields various pickups and powerups.
  • Rhino Rampage: In 2, there are rhino beetle enemies in Stage 14, "Cave Fear", who charge at Vectorman when they see him. When he destroys them, they leave behind power-ups that temporarily transform him into a rhino, allowing him to charge like they do.
  • Scary Scorpions: 2 has giant scorpion enemies that inhabit Stage 5, "Fired". When Vectorman defeats them, they leave behind power-ups that briefly give him a scorpion tail to attack with, also making him temporarily immune to lava.
  • Scenery Porn: The first game tried to add as many background effects as possible including texture warping and lightning strikes.
  • Score Multiplier: One of the items doubles the amount of points yielded.
  • Scoring Points: Score counter is increased by destroying enemies and collecting objects.
  • Screen Shake: Destruction of objects cause the screen to shake violently.
  • Sentry Gun: Sentry guns in Vectorman come in form of robotic arms with a projectile-shooting end are mounted on surfaces.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Levels 19-20 of the second game. Also contain elements of Remilitarized Zone, in that you're a tank.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The first game has two examples. The first one, "Day 4: Absolute Zero" combines this trope with Under the Sea, as Vectorman is at the bottom of an iceberg and must climb his way up to the top. Once he reaches the top, he must battle a robotic pelican and a robotic polar bear. The second, "Day 5: Arctic Ridge" has Vectorman battle enemies as he makes his way through an arctic pipeline.
  • Spiders Are Scary: The Final Boss of 2 is the Spider Queen, an oversized black widow spider with an exposed brain in her thorax. In the same game, many smaller spiders serve as common enemies.
  • Spike Balls of Doom: Boss of the first level has spiked metal spheres attached to its wings.
  • Stationary Boss: The Spider Queen, the final boss of 2, does not move from her spot. The boss of the first game's "Disco" stage as well.
  • Stealth Pun: The first boss of the second game is a giant snake head with fireball-spitting smaller snakes for eyes. The level and boss should've been called "Snake Eyes".
  • This Is a Drill: One of Vectorman's powerup forms. Used to break through certain floors.
  • Timed Mission: Levels must be completed within a time limit. Certain pickups extend the timer.
  • Trash of the Titans: In the original game, by the year 2049, the Earth has become so overrun with pollution that human civilization has fled to the stars, leaving the Orbots to clean the Earth.
  • Underground Level: Levels 8-15 of the second game. Kept from being as monotonous as it would otherwise be by including multiple level types, including standard cave areas, levels consisting mostly of dirt you have to blast a path through, and subway tunnels that Vectorman speeds through on rollerfeet.
  • Vapor Ware: The Playstation 2 game. It was probably for the best.
  • Vector Game: Subverted. The whole reason he was named what he was is because it looks like a vector game. But, ironically, the game actually didn't use vector graphics, but rather pre-rendered 2D sprites similar to Donkey Kong Country. His initial rival, "Raster," is named for an inversion of this.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: The best part about the Double Jump.
  • A Winner Is You: The ending of Vectorman 2. Also, while a lot of other games don't have much fanfare for clearing a level, this game takes it to the extreme, displaying a very simple score count and immediately moving on to the next level.

Alternative Title(s): Vectorman 2