Vectorman is a platform run 'n' gun created by Bluesky software and released in 1995 for the Mega Drive/Genesis. Coming right at the end of the systems lifespan, it qualifies as a hall of fame entry – if there were such a thing.

When one talks Vectorman it necessitates talking about its stunning graphics exhibiting some of the best ever seen on the platform and it could easily be mistaken for a 32-Bit title. It oozes a unique style and its presentation is solid. It's a little painful to think some of the 32-Bit platformers of the time were Knuckles' Chaotix and Clockwork Knight. Tut.

How is all this achieved? Using 3D pre-rendered graphics like other games did in the day to make it appear the console was performing beyond its considered limits. It also uses a programming technique known as Vector Piece Animation where the character is composed of multiple sprites (23 apparently) and programmed to move in unison. In addition, just about every graphics trick possible on the system was used.

Only the speed of the system allowed all this to have fluid animation and 60fps and with no extra processors inside the cartridge this pushed the 16-Bitter to its limits. The title screen alone gives quite a show.

A soundtrack with a techo-futuristic vibe and sound effects of tinny metal impressions are well suited to the action and visuals. Some soundtrack CDs were produced at the time.

Gameplay is where it counts and Vectorman, although basic, is refined to give a satisfying experience with a decent amount of replay value. Does it stand the test of time? Yes, if you fancy a quick blast but without saves, it could put people off.

It received highly positive reviews and was successful enough to inspire a sequel that was only released in the US.

A third game of the same title (initially) was in development in 2003 for the PS2 however it never made it past the prototype stage. So, it seems Vectorman will remain in the 90’s and perhaps it should as a representative of the pinnacle of Mega Drive/Genesis programming (though an enhanced double-package for the Saturn would have been brilliant). It appears frequently in nostalgia packages such as SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection and is available on Steam.

Vectorman European Case
Vectorman European Case

Click for larger.


The future of the human race looks hopeless when maintenance drones accidentally replace the orbot leader’s head with a salvaged atomic bomb.

All the orbots on Earth are ordered, via television receivers, to stop cleaning up the planet and start manufacturing weapons for an impending ambush of the returning humans.

Only one orbot, a sludge barge pilot who as out of communications range, is unaffected by the evil takeover. You are that pilot: Vectorman! The only hope of the entire human race is for you to destroy the villainous WarHead: you must seek him out by following a trail of television receivers around the Earth, and then confront him in a battle that will decide the fate of humanity, and of the Earth itself!


Vectorman is 50/50 platform and action and the balance struck makes for a very playable game.

The objective is to reach the end of each Orbot infested level within a time limit. Levels are essentially side-scrolling but are designed for exploration and alternate routes can be taken. Along the way will be plenty of obstacles such as huge gaps that need to be crossed and fake walls to be destroyed.

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Vectorman himself is an impressive unit. He has a double-jump via booster rockets in his feet, can have his weapons upgraded but can also morph into different forms. When having done or collected something notable he lets out a little victory cry. He will become impatient when standing still for too long.

The enemies, known as Orbots, come in varying shapes, sizes, abilities and strengths. Some will be on the floor whilst others are on the wall or in the air. They are very strategically placed and some clusters of them will respawn so be careful when backtracking.

Vectorman is armed with a basic gun to destroy these. He is damaged by touching them or being hit by one of their projectiles. Be very cautious when running as it can be very easy to run into an enemy or be hit from one above as they can be difficult to spot.

When all health is gone Vectorman dies sending out a shriek and collapsing in such a way it makes you feel a little sad.

Thankfully controls are easy and highly responsive to match the mostly unrelenting action.

Mixing up the gameplay will be morphing into different forms/configuration, plenty of secret areas to uncover via fake walls or invisible platforms and boss fights that take Vectorman into different arenas for confrontation. Numerous upgrades are waiting to be found such as weapon upgrades to assist.

Plenty of replay value is to be had as it poses a decent challenge in areas and the short-burst nature of the gameplay makes it somewhat addictive. The ability to save games would have been a bonus though.

Onscreen all the time will be a status area which displays the following: (left to right)


Current Weapon – Six different weapons can be used and this shows which is being used. It flashes when ammo is low.

Lives – The dancing Vectormen show how many lives are remaining.

Health – Several hits can be taken before a life is lost. The balls filled show the number of hits that can be taken. The empty balls show the number of hits already taken. The empty balls can be filled by collecting health point power-ups and the number can be increased by collecting a max-health power-up. See below.

Multiplier – These will multiply the points earned whilst active. It will also apply to health balls and extra lives! Possible multipliers are x2, x3, x5 and x10. They will only last for a short time.

Time Remaining – How much time is left to complete the level. Vectorman dies instantly when time runs out.

Score – Accumulated total. Points are rewarded for picking up Photons and destroying enemy robots. Extra lives can be earned and the amount of points needed depends on the difficulty setting of the game. Lame: 10,000, Wicked: 20,000, Insane 40,000.

There are bonus points for completing a level:

Level Bonus
Time Bonus
TV Destroyed (X of Y)
Photons Collected (X of Y)

Basic Controls

Controls differ slightly as Vectorman morphs into the various forms, but when he is in humanoid form:

The D-Pad LEFT and RIGHT are to run in that direction and also slide down slopes. When underwater his speed will be reduced. Beware on levels where there is ice as he will slide on the surfaces. When on the edge of a platform he will teeter.

DOWN is crouch and holding either UP or DOWN is to look for a short distance in that direction or to aim fire.

When standing still for too long he will throw his arms up to get your attention.

BUTTON A and B are FIRE. Combine this with directions on the D-Pad and along with running. Some weapons will be rapid fire so the button can be held down.

BUTTON C is JUMP. Press again whilst mid-jump for a double-jump. The exhaust from a double-jump can damage enemies which is useful when advancing upwards via several platforms.

Combine double-jumps with running to clear some considerable distances.

START pauses the game.

For other morphs:

When Vectorman picks up a morph power-up he immediately will transform into a new shape/configuration. These allow him to access different parts of the level he would not otherwise be able to. The transformations will only last a short while.

Drill – Used for breaking through some floors which can be made out of various things. Simply move over them to make them explode.

Use the D-Pad LEFT and RIGHT are to slide in those directions.

Bomb – When detonated, floors, ceilings and breakable walls can be destroyed by the huge explosion. Detonation occurs when the morph times out or is triggered. Some walls, floors and ceilings are knocked out of its way.

Use the D-Pad LEFT and RIGHT are to roll in those directions and FIRE to trigger the explosion.

Buggy – Whilst in a Dune Buggy form, can ram to burst through walls.

Use the D-Pad LEFT and RIGHT to drive in those directions.

Jet – Flying ability. He can fly anywhere and contact with Orbots destroys them. This morph is great for accessing secret areas of the level otherwise impossible to reach.

Use the D-Pad to fly in all directions.

Missile – Allows smashing through ceilings. Useful to gaining access to new areas of the level.

Use the D-Pad LEFT and RIGHT are to fly in those directions.

Fish – Allows swimming much faster than running and ramming enemies destroys them.

Use the D-Pad to swim in all directions.

Parachute – Allows drifting down to Earth more slowly giving more manoeuvrability in the air.

Use the D-Pad LEFT and RIGHT are to float in those directions.

Boss Confrontations

Train (Day 2)

Vectorman morphs into a train. Target WarHeads grasping hands before they grab Vectorman and avoid the projectiles.

Use the D-Pad UP and DOWN to move along the levitating tracks in those directions.

BUTTON A and B are FIRE.


Cricket (Day 7)

Vectorman confronts WarHead in the form of a cricket on the rolling mat. When hopping around, line up a shot at the huge hands but do not allow them to squash Vectorman. Also do not fall off!

Use the D-Pad to Hop in those directions.


Dancin' Fool (Day 11)

Bounce off the enemy tops and shoot the WarHead though the spinning floor. Watch out for the electrical charges that WarHead fires towards you.

Use the D-Pad to dance in those directions and BUTTON A or B to shoot.


Throughout the game will be valuable items to be collected. Some will be out in the open, others require breaking out of TVs (CRTs) and enemies occasionally leave them behind.

Simply walk on them to collect.

Multipliers – x2 or x3 appear when orbots are destroyed whereas x5 and x10 can only be found in TVs.

Health Point – Fills one ball on the health indicator.

Full Health – Fill in all the ball on the health indicator.

Max Health – Increases the number of health points by 1. Can only be found in a TV.|

1-Up – An extra life.

Milestone – Acts as a restart marker should Vectorman be killed.

Extra Time – Adds two minutes to the level timer.

TV – Destroying these may earn a Power-Up, weapon or morph ability.

Photon – Photons are pulsating energy sources and are spread throughout all the levels and are left behind after destroying enemies. They earn 10 points each. There is no advantage to collecting every photon in a level other than earning more points. Photons from vanquished Orbots will vanish when they move off screen so collect them quickly.


Each new weapon will have a limited amount of ammo. When this has ran out Vectorman returns to his standard ball gun. The improved weapons are:

Rapid Fire – Shoots a stream of bullets that will ricochet off walls. Hold the FIRE button to repeatedly fire.

Wave – Fires a cone of energy. Useful for destroying enemies that are not in direct line of sight and it even goes through walls!

Bolo – Shoots a big rotary energy ball which travels/rips through enemy Orbots.

Orb – Can only be used once each time an orb icon is picked up. It destroys all the nearby Orbots in a huge explosion.

Nucleus Shield – This rotates around Vectorman providing protection for a short period of time after which Vectorman returns to the standard ball gun.


A few options are available to tweak the game but most notably is the online manual – something of a novelty in the day due to the space limitations of cartridges.

Sound Effects – Toggle ON or OFF.

Music – Toggle ON or OFF.

Difficulty – Ranges from Wicked (default), Insane (Hardest) and Lame (easiest).

Music Test – Select a track with the D-Pad and play with any button.

Sound Test – Select a sample to play with the D-Pad and play with any button. It will stop any music playing.

Buttons – Use the D-Pad to move been button re-assignments.

Information – View the game's manual.

START BUTTON returns to the title screen.

The Days (Levels)

There are a total of 16 Days or levels that take Vectorman all over the planet and a bonus level. Some days will end with a simple exit whereas others will have a fight with a much more sophisticated Orbot.

Vectorman Screenshots (Mega Drive/Genesis)
Day 1 Day 1

Day 1 Terraport

Day 2 Day 2

Day 2 Metal Head

Day 3 Day 3

Day 3 Tidal Surge

Day 4 Day 4

Day 4 Absolute Zero

Day 5 Day 5

Day 5 Arctic Ridge

Day 6 Day 6

Day 6 Bamboo Mill

Day 7 Day 7

Day 7 Rock 'N' Roller

Day 8 Day 8

Day 8 Death Alley

Day 9 Day 9

Day 9 Hydroponic Lab

Day 10 Day 10

Day 10 Super Structure

Day 11 Day 11

Day 11 Stayin' Alive

Day 12 Day 12

Day 12 Nightscape

Day 13 Day 13

Day 13 Dark Ruins

Day 14 Day 14

Day 14 Underground Vault

Day 15 Day 15

Day 15 Worldlink Center

Day 16 Day 16

Day 16 Twist and Shout

Bonus Rounds

The Bonus Rounds essentially allows for the collecting of more points but also is an instant exit from the current level. They are entered via destroying a Satellite Dish. The dishes are protected by an impenetrable energy shield that can only be disabled by destroying the Satellite Shield Generator. This generator is hidden in a secret place within each level so a decent amount of searching is required.

Satelite Dish and Generator

Satelite Dish and Generator

They last for 1 minute and the object is to deflect anything that heads towards the centre spot. This will be orbots and their projectiles.

Use the D-Pad to select a direction in 90o degree increments to fire to destroy and deflect.

When 4 hits are taken the bonus round is over. Remaining time is converted into points in the form of a Loser Bonus.


Bonus Round


General Tips

Shooting downwards whilst in the air slows down Vectorman’s descent. Its is usually safer to attack enemies from above.

Fight enemies on slopes by crouching under their shots and shooting at them.

Vectorman cannot drop down a platform once he’s jumped onto it so keep this when looking out for secret rooms etc.

Some walls appear solid but they can actually be secret doors. Likewise, following a trail of photons can lead to extra bonuses etc. For example, on Day 1 there is an array of invisible platforms underneath several sets of photons.

Fighting Marge and Doorman

These two larger Orbots have facemasks that cannot be destroyed.

Doorman can be destroyed fairly easily by attacking from behind so backtrack for another route to get into that position.

Marge, on the other hand, is tougher. They are docile until Vectorman gets close and then they attack. The best position to attack from is underneath. Attacking from behind works but it will flip around once the tail has been destroyed with the mask protecting it again, and more parts of it need to be destroyed.

Debug Menu

Debug Mode

On the options screen press: A,B,B,A, DOWN, A,B,B,A. The next menu will have options for Heath (max 10), Lives (max 99), Starting Level and Start Shot [MBall, Rapid, Wave, Bolo, Orb, Shield].

Additional Debugging Modes

Pause the game and enter these sequences. To undo/disable them simply repeat.

B, A, Left, Down Displays 1 digit x and y coordinates of the vectorman sprite.

Left, Up, A, Up Displays 3 digit x and y coordinates of the vectorman sprite.

A, Left, A, B, A, Mode, A Displays 4 digit counter, enemy related.

B, A, Left, Left Displays 4 digit x and y coordinates of player.

Right, A, Down, A, Right Displays hitbox corners of enemies.

A, B, Right, A, C, A, Down, A, B, Right, A Full Health

Left, Left, A, Mode, A Goes to Options menu

C, A, Left, Left, A, C, A, B Free movement around the level. The Vectorman sprite turns into an arrow. Use the D-pad to move anywhere around the level. Includes Invisibility and Invincibility. Enter the code again to place Vectorman back on the level.

A, B, A, C, A, B Displays the hitbox for the Vectorman sprite.

Down, Right, A, C, Up, Left, A Applies a slow-motion effect to certain events such as Vectorman being hit or exploding when in bomb form.

Deactivate the SEGA Logo

At the SEGA screen, move Vectorman slightly to the right of the logo and drop down. Aim upwards and shoot. There is a hidden T.V. monitor there. Once it is broken, there will be an orb power up.

Grab it and when you use it, the SEGA logo will go dark and the background will stop moving.


It follows directly after the saving of Earth from Warhead. Vectorman’s sludge barge is destroyed by a missile. Vectorman survives and parachutes down. He now must battle Earths mutant insects and destroy the source of the infestation – The Black Widow Queen.

Although very similar, Vectorman now has a different set of weapons. Energy shots, pulse beam and super shotguns.

He can now transform into some of the insects around such as a fire ant, a shield bug that can repel attacks and a rhino.

Unlike the first game, full-level transformations are not used to combat bosses. as that is the man-form of Vectorman.

It weighs in with 22 levels divided into 7 parts.

Vectorman 2 (Genesis) Vectorman 2 (Genesis) Vectorman 2 (Genesis) Vectorman 2 (Genesis)

Vectorman 2 (Genesis)

It earned very positive reviews but not as high as the first game mainly due to the insect nature of the game not striking the same tone and the graphics seemingly darker and dingy.

It was only ever released in the US and thus is technically a Genesis game.


Perfect! Play this with KEGA Fusion, Gens and Gens32 Emulators. You can download these from the SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis Emulators page.



Review at SEGA-16


Review at SEGABits


Cutting Room Floor

Some in-depth information about the contents of the game.


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