Release Date: November 1989
Developer: Westwood Associates
Take Atari’s Combat, spruce it up to early NES graphics, create levels, and you have Vindicators. Another arcade port from Tengen that… well… isn’t that bad! You are in control of a Vindicator, the most powerful battle tank ever created and you have to stop the imminent destruction of Earth by invading aliens.
The first thing you need to get used to is the tank controls. You move in the direction your cannon is facing by pressing up, backward with down, and left and right rotate you. The manual lies about the controls. The A Button is your normal cannon shot. These shots are unlimited and can be upgraded at the end of each level. If you collect enough stars from the ground, you’re given a menu of upgrades to choose from. Shot range, power, and speed can all be upgraded. Tank speed is an important upgrade, as well. You can also buy fuel, shields, and special weapons.
There are two special weapons that you fire with the B Button and switch between with the Select Button. The two weapons are smart shots and bomb cannons. Smart shots are homing missiles and bomb cannons are powerful blasts. You earn these by picking them up during levels. A red dot with four green arrows are smart shots and the green arrow encased in a circle are bomb cannons. Intelligent use of these are necessary to defeat certain enemies.
Your health gauge is represented by the amount of fuel you have left. This counts down as you move around the level, but is also depleted when getting shot or running into obstacles. If you run out of fuel, you explode, but you can reduce the amount of fuel loss from being hit by collecting or buying shields. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for fuel pellets in each level. They will be necessary. Also, be sure to avoid mines on the ground, they reminded me of skull and crossbones, and can injure both you and your enemies.
There are eight space stations to defeat with four levels each. At the end of each station is a control room filled with goodies. You need to collect what you can and get out fast before it explodes with you inside. You’ll need plenty of weaponry to take out the bosses on the stations. They have a lot of fuel, hit hard, and are difficult to avoid. Playing with a second person is an option that may be worth trying.
The graphics are primitive compared to what we’ve been seeing lately.
I kind of liked the music. You can tell it was trying to do a lot because sound effects would cause parts of the song to disappear.
There’s not a ton of depth, but what’s there works well.
Once you get the tank controls down, and get some upgrades, it’s pretty easy to fly through levels. The bosses on the other hand…
Fun Factor: 2.5
I enjoyed myself enough and would come back with a partner in the future to try again.
Overall Grade: 1.9
Vindicators earns a C. This is a pretty average title, but Cs get degrees, so give it a shot!