Vanguard (video game)

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Japanese arcade flyer of Vanguard.
Japanese arcade flyer of Vanguard.
Developer(s) TOSE[1]
Publisher(s) SNK[2][3]
Centuri [4]
Zaccaria [5]
Platform(s) Arcade
Atari 2600
Atari 5200
Release date(s) 1981
Genre(s) Multi-scrolling shooter
Multi-directional shooter
Mode(s) Single player
Cabinet Upright, cocktail (Cinematronics)[6]
Arcade system M6502 (@ 930 kHz)
Custom audio
Display Vertical orientation
resolution: 224 x 256 64 colors

For the 2007 MMORPG, see Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Vanguard (ヴァンガード?) is a 1981 arcade game developed by TOSE,[1] and published by SNK in Japan in 1981[2] and later during the same year in Germany by the same publisher,[3] while it was licensed to Centuri for manufacture in North America in October 1981[4] and by Zaccaria in Italy during the same year,[5] putting SNK on the map in those regions. The game was also licensed to Cinematronics for conversion to cocktail arcade cabinets in North America.[6]

The game is known as one of the first scrolling shooters ever made that allowed scrolling in multiple directions, and is additionally notable by being the first shoot 'em up where a player can shoot in four different directions. Also, unlike other comparable games at the time, Vanguard was unique in that the player must focus on avoiding obstacles while firing in order to survive; which made this game a precursor to Konami's Gradius and Irem's R-Type.[7] It also has the distinction of being the first colored game released by SNK. It was also an early example of a dual-control game, similar to the later Robotron 2084, but using four directional buttons rather than a second joystick.[8]

Vanguard was followed up by a sequel, Vanguard II, which is similar to the original but with gameplay and graphical improvements. However, unlike the original; the gameplay is similar to Xevious with the ability to fly in multiple directions, and there were no home console nor computer ports of Vanguard II released until SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 0 for the Sony PlayStation Portable.


The Gond has been terrorizing nearby space colonies with its periodic raids of destruction. The time has come to put an end to his reign of terror. The player has been selected to pilot an advanced fighter ship with high offensive capabilities, and must enter the cave inside the asteroid where the Gond makes his home, and safely fly through every zone; the Mountain Zone, Rainbow Zone, Styx Zone, Stripe Zone, Bleak Zone, and the City of Mystery (aka Last Zone) where the Gond is rumored to reside. The player must take the Gond out, and succeed in the mission. If unsuccessful, the colonies will be doomed.


Vanguard is similar to Scramble, in that the player controls a ship urged along a surrounding conduit and with a limited amount of fuel that constantly depletes. Unlike Scramble, fuel is replenished by destroying enemies, so running out of fuel is less common. Also unlike Scramble, some portions of Vanguard scroll vertically or diagonally.

The ship can fire lasers independently in any of the four cardinal directions using the four buttons. Flying into an energy pod makes the ship invulnerable for a short while, allowing both enemy ships and the tunnel walls to be destroyed by ramming.

The game is divided into two tunnel of multiple zones each. The first tunnel consists of Mountain Zone, Rainbow Zone, Styx Zone, Rainbow Zone 2, Stripe Zone, Rainbow Zone 3, Bleak Zone, and the City of Mystery/Last Zone. The second tunnel consists of Mountain Zone, Stripe Zone, Styx Zone, Rainbow Zone, Bleak Zone, and the City of Mystery/Last Zone.

At the end of each tunnel the player must defeat a boss guarded by two moving force fields with holes in them.

Ports and related releases[edit]

Vanguard was ported by Atari, Inc. to the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 home consoles.

Vanguard uses a number of custom sound chips to produce digitized voices and custom synthesizer sounds. The speech is used to announce the name of the current zone or the next zone that is about to be entered, or the words "be careful" when a power-up is about to end. Theme music composed by Jerry Goldsmith for the 1979 sci-fi film Star Trek: The Motion Picture, later utilized for Star Trek: The Next Generation, is borrowed as Vanguard's introductory theme. Vultan's theme (composed by Queen's Freddie Mercury) from the 1980 movie Flash Gordon is used as the sound effect when a power-up is attained.


External links[edit]