North American Playstation cover art
Vigilante 8 is a vehicular combat video game developed by Luxoflux and published by Activision, originally released on the PlayStation in 1998. Later ports of the game were released for the Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color. It is a spinoff of the PC game Interstate '76, featuring several of its theme concepts (auto-vigilantes, the 1970s time frame, and specific fictional vehicle companies).
Players do combat over a number of stages located all over the western United States, whether in Story or Arcade Mode. Each stage has interactive features, such as ballistic missiles and launching Aurora planes for the Area 51 level. Every vehicle is equipped with a machine gun by default, but players can add up to three out of five available weapons - mines, auto-cannons, rocket pods, mortars, and homing missiles, plus a special weapon unique to the vehicle.
Three types of special attacks can be made using each of the five standard weapons, at a bigger cost in ammunition, by performing fighting game-style movements and button presses on the control pad. These attacks may be performed during normal play or to eliminate nearly-destroyed cars in a method called "Totaling." In line with the fighting-game style element, players can also score up to six combo hits called Whammies.
There are special icons scattered across the playing field; wrenches repair damage and yellow zigzag lines temporarily jam the opponent's homing-based weapons. Certain objectives in Story Mode must be completed to help unlock the game's secret characters and stages. The game also offers players the option to play standard music CDs during a match.
The game is set in an alternate 1975, where a global oil crisis occurs and the United States is on the verge of an economic breakdown. A rampant crime wave in the cities prompts the deployment of more security forces, leaving the hinterlands with little or no law and order. A multinational oil consortium, the Oil Monopoly Alliance Regime (OMAR), is determined to control the global petroleum market and wants the destruction of the US to ensure the success of their plan.
The game's protagonists are the Vigilantes, a group of residents from various southwestern US states who band together to preserve law and order in light of the chaos gripping the country. Their leader is Convoy, an old cowboy driving a semi truck. He is accompanied in the fight by his niece Sheila, Las Vegas high-roller John Torque, alien-obsessed hippie Dave, Torque's friend Slick Clyde (whom he bullied to join the group) and FBI agent Chassey Blue, who was assigned to investigate reports of gunbattles in the region.
The game's antagonists are the Coyotes, a group of hitmen recruited to carry out OMAR's scheme by terrorizing commercial installations throughout the region using weaponry stolen from the ultra-secret Site 4 base at Papoose Lake in Nevada. Their founder is known Australian terrorist Sid Burn. His cohorts are disco dancer Boogie (a close associate), mentally-disturbed S4 test pilot Loki; Beezwax, a beekeeper frustrated by the irradiation of his beehive; Houston 3, a woman brainwashed as one of OMAR's assassins, and juvenile delinquent Molo, who is driving a school bus and is desperate to join the Coyotes.
An extraterrestrial being named Y The Alien appears in the game as a secret character.
Each character has his or her own ending, which is part of a bigger story. Molo successfully passes the Coyotes' initiation, only to be mocked as he is made to wash Sid's car. Sid receives his payoff money from OMAR for his services, but is left stranded in the middle of nowhere because he is out of gas. John Torque finds him and stashes him in his trunk. Houston breaks free of OMAR's mind control and goes away with Convoy, who detaches the machineguns from his truck. Sheila barely misses them at a gas station and is forced to walk on the road, where Convoy and Houston pick her up. Clyde wears Houston's mind-control armband out of curiosity and emerges as the Coyotes' new leader.
Chassey Blue embarks on a Hollywood career, releasing her self-titled movie based on the adventures of the Vigilantes. An alien ship abducts Dave in the middle of the night - and he beats his alien host in a round of checkers. The police arrest Boogie and he is convicted on a number of charges. Beezwax is elated at having acquired two nuclear warheads, but dies when a stray bee lands on one warhead's fuse, triggering an explosion. Loki finds a UFO and is eager to fly it, but it crashes and he is mistaken for a live alien UFO pilot. In the N64 version of the game, the ship Loki crashed is revealed to be that of Y The Alien, who was seeking extra fuel and parts for his ship after being stranded on Earth for some time looking for his friends.
Vigilante 8 was developed with a team of only five people - Peter Morawiec, Adrian Stephens, David Goodrich, Jeremy Engleman, and Edward Toth. A commercial for the N64 version was produced for its release in March 1999. It shows a school bus dropping off children at school followed by game footage of the bus in combat. The students wait for their bus at dismissal time, only to find it severely damaged when it arrives. The advertisement was withdrawn following the Columbine massacre. The N64 version of the game also includes a new campaign for Y The Alien and a fantasy stage called Super Dreamland 64, as well as three new multiplayer modes to take advantage of the system's four control ports (2v2, 3v1, and deathmatch) and a two-player Story Mode. It also requires the N64 Expansion Pack to improve the graphics and access bonus content.
The game received good reviews. Ryan Macdonald of GameSpot graded the PlayStation release of the game at eight out of ten, noting the easy control scheme and the well-designed graphics. He noted that the game's offerings would give reason for players to "retire" from Twisted Metal 2. Shawn Smith of Electronic Gaming Monthly noted the N64 multiplayer mode offered more fun and ran relatively smoothly in high-resolution mode.
A sequel was produced, titled Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense, released for the PlayStation, Dreamcast, and Nintendo 64 in 1999. A remake for the Xbox 360, titled Vigilante 8 Arcade, was created by Isopod Labs, an independent company formed by the founders of Luxoflux. The game features a high-definition rendition of the past games plus some added multiplayer levels complete with an online mode. It was released onto Xbox Live Arcade on November 5, 2008. The developer of the two Vigilante 8 games, Luxoflux, produced a game very similar to Vigilante 8 using the Star Wars license (and the Vigilante 8 game engine), titled Star Wars: Demolition.
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