Atari 2600 Friday’s #13 – Vanguard
Our 13th week brings us a little side scrolling shooter called Vanguard.
The Story: It appears that you are the crew of a spaceship in the future trying to get through a cavern in order to find an ancient hidden city.
From the Manual: “Your goal is to reach the City of Mystery at the end of the tunnel and destroy Gond. In the tunnel zones, you maneuver around sharp rocks and barriers while battling weird flying objects. The more enemy objects you destroy, the more points you earn. If you make it to the City of Mystery and shoot Gond, you earn bonus points. But watch out! Gond could shoot you instead. If you survive the City of Mystery, you continue the game in Tunnel 2.”
From the box: “Join the Vanguard Expedition on a thrilling space odyssey. Through perilous tunnels you’ll fight your way to the fabulous City of Mystery and the Great Gond.”
The Game Play: The very first thing you notice when you turn it on is that Vanguard has a great feature, before you start it will auto play the entire level. Isn’t that nice of it? Your ship fires forward, aft and to either side depending on what difficulty level the game is set to. Now your goal in Vanguard is basically to navigate your way to the end of the zone while avoiding the terrain and killing enemies in your way. Once you reach the end of the stage, shoot Gond for bonus points before he shoots you. What is Gond? I have no idea until I try to play and encounter him. Each zone, or level, is divided up into areas. The Mountain Zone, pictured below, which also includes ‘Pod Power’ marked by an ‘E’ being nothing more than temporary ten second invincibility. The Rainbow Zone, which changes everything to a north south orientation. The Stick Zone, which apparently makes the screen tighter. A second rainbow zone with more enemies. The Stripped Zone, which has two sides and changes difficulty based on which you pick. A third Rainbow Zone with even more enemies, they sure do love the rainbow zone don’t they? and Finally the Bleak Zone, where apparently you can dock with a certain enemy by touching them in the middle, no more than 3 times, to gain extra points and maybe lives. After this it switches to the City of Mystery, which is basically the boss area, where you have to avoid moving barriers and enemy fire while shooting at Gond. After you defeat Gond, it moves on to Zone 2, where everything is faster paced and the level order rearranges. You have five lives and can gain extra lives at both 10,000 and 50,000 points. The red bar on the screen below is your fuel gauge which lasts about 40 seconds, if you let this run out you crash and die. This refills when you grab Pod Power to become invincible temporarily.
The Controls: You can move up, left, right, down, or diagonally. Red button to fire.
Post Review: Okay, first off, I found this shooter annoying for one simple reason. It fires for you, I mean it auto fires in two ways. one shot always fires forward in a slow interval, and one shot fires in the direction your moving, up down left right, at a fast interval. to not fire and move faster, but the screen wont scroll faster, hold down the button. Second, while in invincible mode, you cannot fire at all. Thats basically it, that fact alone makes the game much harder. On the cool side, while in invincible mode it play a neat little Vanguard theme for you. BTW, I only made it up to the stick zone for today.
The High Score: 7090