Vectorman 2
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Genesis
  • Developer:
    • Blue Sky Software
  • Publisher:
    • Sega
  • Released:
    • US 11/15/1996
Score: 75%

This review was published on 05/05/2013.

Vectorman 2 is a 2-D, side-scrolling action game released for the Sega Genesis in 1996. It was one of the last big profile releases for the system, along with games like Sonic 3-D Blast. Like its predecessor, Vectorman 2 features pre-rendered graphics that were amazing for the time and an impressive feat for the Genesis. It was around this time that the 16-bit consoles were struggling to remain relevant even on the advent of the 3-D capable systems such as the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo 64, so this was more or less the last hurrah for the Genesis. The novelty of pre-rendered graphics was starting to wear off around this time, which made games like Vectorman 2 seem less impressive. And unfortunately, Vectorman 2 doesn't deliver the same quality that the first game did, ensuring that it would be quickly forgotten in the hype of the new systems at the time.

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We find our titular hero, Vectorman, cruising around the universe in his space barge after having defeated the terrible Warhead from dominating the Earth with its robotic legion. Disaster strikes when Vectorman's ship only is shot down by a missile. He makes a crash landing onto the Earth to find that there is a new threat in town: giant mutated bugs are terrorizing the planet. Peace sure doesn't last long, does it? As is customary for waste disposal robots, Vectorman decides to take out the trash by eliminating the insect menace. In order to wipe out the bloody buggers for good, Vectorman must find and eliminate the Black Widow Queen. That really is all there is to the story. In a nutshell, you get to play exterminator for a few hours. Basically replace robots with bugs and you got Vectorman 2. The story is a lot less convoluted than the previous game, but also a lot more stupid. Of course, that doesn't really matter, considering this is a straight up action game. I will say that it's not as fun to smash bugs as it is to destroy robots, but that could just be me. Maybe you'll find the bug squishing to your liking.

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The second Vectorman plays exactly like the first one. It's a run and gun shooter where you shoot at a lot of things in one of eight directions. All of Vectorman's basic maneuvers have returned, like the foot thrusters that allow him to do a double-jump and also damage any enemies beneath him. A slight change to the double-jump is that it now can break power-up containers. That's a nice change, because the containers take way too many shots to open under normal circumstances. The double-jump can open them in a few shots. If the double-jump isn't good enough for you, then you can shoot downwards while in mid-air to slow down your descent, which is another technique that makes a comeback from the first game. Not a whole lot has changed from the previous game in terms of the basic mechanics. If you start this game immediately after finishing the first, then you should feel right at home. The controls are tight like a tiger, so navigation in Vectorman 2 is a cinch. It never feels like anything is out of reach of Vectorboy's shots, unless it's not on screen at the time. His name isn't actually Vectorboy, by the way. I came up with that one. Vectorman 2 controls just as good as the first game, if not better.

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One thing that has seen the most significant change is the power-ups. The changes aren't really that significant, but it's something. Power-ups are now held within creepy looking bug sack things, adding to the grotesque insect theme the game has going for it. Vectorman will get either a defensive or offensive temporary enhancement depending on what power-ups he picks up. Weapon power-ups operate on an invisible ammo meter, which means they run out after firing them enough times. Offensive power-ups include the tiny rapid laser, the big powerful laser, and lots of other lasers. Other power-ups include temporary shields, temporary transformations, and other temporarily useful things. New to Vectorman 2 is that transformation power-ups are acquired by defeating certain types of enemies. It's a neat change, I suppose. The transformation power-ups are a bit better now, as they tend to be more useful. One cool transformation is the scorpion form, which has a melee attack with its tail and it can walk on lava. You get this from defeating scorpion enemies. I also like the rhino transformation, because it allows you to plow through enemies like nobody's business. Transformations still suffer from inexplicably short durations, unfortunately. And last but not least, we've got the permanent life gauge power-ups. A very small number of these things are hidden throughout the game, and they remain even after you die. Outside of the gross bug sacks, Vectorman 2's power-ups are pretty all right.

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We've got a whopping 22 stages this time around. That doesn't actually mean that Vectorman 2 is longer than the first one, but it's still a little on the long side for an action game of this type. Many of the stages in this game are really short, although the first Vectorman was certainly no stranger when it came to short stages. While not every individual stage has a boss, the stages are all broken up into sections, and the end of every section does feature a boss fight. The level design in Vectorman 2 is a lot more maze-like than in the first one. That can be kind of annoying, given that this is supposed to be a fast paced action game. A big issue with the stages in this game is the enemy placement. Enemies tend to be placed in such a way as to facilitate you getting hit by what you can't see. Blind jumps are everywhere in Vectorman 2, and you'll almost always end up blindly jumping right into an enemy's face. It's also common for enemies to shoot you with projectiles from slightly off-screen. The only real way to get around these problems is to blindly shoot everywhere as you run around, whether you see any enemies nearby or not. To be fair, the first Vectorman also suffered from this issue, but it seems to be a lot worse in Vectorman 2. Stage design in Vectorman 2 just isn't that great, I'm afraid.

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Gimmick stages make their dreaded return, with all new gimmicks to ruin your day. Some of them are pretty fun, like the stages where Vectorman skates around in some roller skates. The development team seems to think rather highly of this particular gimmick, as it's used three times. As fun as this gimmick can be, it's really easy to skate right into enemy fire, and that makes these stages quite troublesome. You'll have to take them slow and steady, even though that probably wasn't the intention. There's also a stage where you dig through the ground using your bullets, like that one level from Earthworm Jim 2. This is pretty tedious, so it kind of sucks. My personal favorite of the gimmick stages is the tank level, in which Vectorman transforms into a tank that can mow down everything in his path. How can anyone not like that? The good thing about the gimmick stages in Vectorman 2 is that most of them are still done in typical run and gun fashion, as opposed to radically altering the game play mechanics. Well, whether that's good or not is up to you. The advantage is that the mechanics remain fairly consistent throughout the game, but the disadvantage is that the game feels way less varied. It's tough to say whether the gimmick stages have improved or gotten worse. Let's just say they break even.

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As cool as Vectorman is, Vectorman 2 is a disappointing sequel. It starts off really weak and doesn't get much stronger from there, although it does improve in the later levels. The level design and enemy placement is even more infuriating than the last game, and the insect theme is pretty lame. It feels like this was merely a sequel to capitalize on the first game's success, not one born out of a real desire to make a great game. Vectorman 2 isn't a terrible game, though. If this were the '90s, then I'd say Vectorman 2 is a rental, at best.

Word Count: 1,395

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