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The 11 prototypes and documents from Vectorman Playstation 2: the transition from 2D to 3D of our best friend SEGA's robot

In a world where we often think that only the Japanese were able to improve the graphic and technical qualities of the consoles of the 90s, some western studios have nevertheless proved that they had a lot to offer. BlueSky Software is one of them, and their crowning achievement on Mega Drive remains the highly regarded Vectorman.

At the time, SEGA had an excellent relationship with BlueSky, having let them develop two titles on Mega Drive related to the Jurassic Park license. So it was only natural that SEGA would turn to the studio again to develop what looked like the rival to Donkey Kong Country, which was then a hit on Super Nintendo. Since Nintendo's title used 3D models and the technique seemed to appeal to gamers (before becoming a repetitive bore, of course), SEGA wanted something similar... only more muscular. So BlueSky came up with the formula for Vectorman, a very energetic platformer.

Vectorman was released at the end of 1995 (October 24), in a very complicated context at SEGA. Indeed, an internal conflict was already raging between SEGA Japan and SEGA of America, a war that would later cause a lot of damage in the epic creation of the Dreamcast. SEGA Japan preferred to create games on their new console, the Saturn, while their American counterpart preferred to capitalize on the success of the Genesis (American Mega Drive). It must be said that in the States, the Saturn was not really a hit...

Anyway, Vectorman was born, and it was a shock for the players. The game was really a good surprise, with outstanding technical capabilities. The hero, Vectorman, was a robot made of no less than 23 pseudo-3D sprites that could move with a disconcerting fluidity and at 60 frames per second thanks to what was to be called the « Vector Piece Animation », adding extra scrolling to the display of the scenery. A challenge at that time. Maybe even a challenge in our time, that's to say. Let us add to that a rather vast arsenal, a power-up acting as a score multiplier (which, in turn could get you many extra lives) as well as so-so morphing abilities to pass through some sections of the levels... But which required a really huge amount of extra animation work. Even the relatively thin scenario was not that stupid. Well not as dumb as a lot of other titles of the same kind. Basically, humans have fled the planet because of a pollution rate close to that of Paris in winter and have let robots clean up their garbage before planning a future return. Except that of course, a supervising robot will go crazy and foment an eradication of the human race. Vectorman, on the other hand, does not intend to let this happen, even if he is a robot himself, and goes in search of the villain to give him a piece of his mind. Yeah... Finally, it's not Oscar-worthy either.

You can easily understand that Vectorman had everything to please American gamers: robots, two-button gameplay, robots, explosions, robots, weapons, robots, smooth animations, robots, shooting in eight directions, robots, double jumps and also some robots. So American that the game will not be released in Japan on Mega Drive.

BlueSky Softaware logo

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Segaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

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The title screen of Vectorman MD

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His design is funny

It sold incredibly well – over 500,000 copies were shipped to retailers – for a game released at almost the same time as the PlayStation in the US. Moreover, critics noted that it produced graphics comparable to those they could admire on SONY's 32-bit, high praise indeed. This led SEGA to do the same with Vectorman 2 the following year. Yes, a Mega Drive game in 1996 while on the other side of the world you could play Resident Evil. When I told you that the Genesis was well established in the USA...

Well, Vectorman 2 wasn't necessarily the most famous game of the Genesis, but it was one of the most successful. Well, it's also one of the last to be released on it, which probably helped. BlueSky used the same graphics engine as in the previous opus, with some radical changes in gameplay. Vectorman's enemies are this time animals on a hostile planet (of course) and our hero can transform into them when he shoots them. Thus, he can become a Vector-scorpion if he kills a giant scorpion and cross lava fields without losing life points. It should be noted that this system is very similar to Kirby's principle, but once again BlueSky has added a rather obvious Michael Bay touch: explosions and... explosions.

While BlueSky was developing Vectorman 2 in a hurry (Let’s not forget that the Genesis was as old as Michel Drucker* in console years. (*Drucker is a French TV presenter who has been around since 1964)), SEGA released a press release announcing that Vectorman was going to be developed into an animated series or an animated movie, and that a partnership had already been found with Ideal Entertainment to set it all up. Shinobu Toyoda, from SEGA of America, even seemed to be very excited about this idea. I think you've never seen anything like this on your screens and that's normal: nothing happened anywhere.

But Vectorman 2 was an excellent game and BlueSky did not intend to stop there. With the license owned by SEGA and the Genesis no longer in the game, they had to program for the Saturn. The studio produced a few sketches by designers Jason Weesner and Ellis Goodson and a production document for a « Vectorman Ultra », but SEGA did not follow through. Relationships deteriorated after that – it must be said that SEGA wasn't doing very well back then – putting a lot of money on the table wasn't really on the agenda. It should be noted that Goodson later worked on Skullmonkeys, a game that clearly drew on his work on Vectorman.

With the end of the line and SEGA's disengagement, BlueSky continued to develop games that were often cancelled, before falling into the hands of Titus (yes, the French) who, after cancelling the last game the studio was working on, finally made it disappear altogether. But before the company folded, some BlueSky employees, including the famous Jason Weesner, left to found their own studio (Vblank) and decided that their salvation would come through Vectorman. So they knocked again on SEGA's door for a PS2 development in 2000. They made an engine for the occasion, and SEGA was tempted. With a set of specifications under their arm, they went back home to build a small playable demo of this « Vectorman Neo », which was clearly going to be their next game (Prototype exists but is not yet functional). Except that SEGA told them during their next meeting that Vectorman wasn't a title worthy of interest anyway, that nobody knew the license anymore (despite the fact SEGA themselves wanted to bring the game to the big screen just four years earlier) and that well, we shouldn't dream either. Hup, hup, hup, get out of here.

Jason Weesner was really saddened by this, and when you see what he did on Slave Zero (PC, Dreamcast) as a designer, you can only regret that SEGA decided to cancel not one, but two Vectorman 3 he worked on.

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He was back

Vectorman 3 Saturn Concept

Concept of Vectorman 3 Saturn (bis)

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Well, when I say that SEGA cancelled two Vectorman 3... I'm going a bit fast. After all, there's never a dull moment, SEGA knows it. After kindly saying that Vectorman was no longer bankable with the public, the company with the blue hedgehog decided to collaborate with a Canadian development studio after seeing a convincing 3D version of Vectorman.

Le Vectorman de Pseudo Interactive

A press release came out on April 21, 2003. SEGA stated that « Vectorman » would be released in early 2004 (with less than a year of development) on PS2 only. The game would be revealed at E3, (it) would include a hero with limbs that could be changed, modified, about fifteen devastating weapons and 25 upgrades allowing the player to freely go through the game. Boy, what a precision! The press release goes further and also announces a destructible and interactive environment (whatever that means), in which the Orbots (the robots of the saga) go about their business and react to Vectorman's actions. This is followed by a glorious paragraph about the unusual intelligence of the enemies and the mention that Sony Computer Entertainment America has not yet approved the project. Classic, in a way.

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Vectorman Playstation 2 in action

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In front of the PI premises

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PI's game editor ("mod2k")

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One of PI's Vectorman looks

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The announcement was certified at the E3 in May 2003, Jason Weesner – who took the information with calmness and serenity – even tried to talk to the team that had been chosen for the occasion. In vain, of course. The development studio Pseudo Interactive (the history of the studio on this page), in charge of the transition from 2D to 3D of SEGA's most famous robot, was not well known by the general public. Its only game was Cel Damage (article about the game on this page), a 3D cel-shaded racing game.

Pseudo Interactive (PI), headquartered in Toronto, Canada, was an independent game development studio dedicated to the creation of original interactive entertainment properties.  Founded in 1997, PI had established a reputation as a leader in the development of physics-based video games, powered by PI's acclaimed "Pseudo Physics" game engine. In 2003, the Canadian company had 18 employees, including 5 programmers, 8 artists, 4 design and development staff and 1 administrative person.

But let's skip these considerations and focus on the game. Some screenshots were made public during this E3 and quickly circulated on specialized websites, but nothing very convincing was there. We could see on these screenshots that the game was going to be a TPS in which you shoot in all directions, with a bonus sword for close combat. The 3D design left absolutely no doubt: this production had nothing to do with the Vectorman that Mega Drive players knew. There was no hero « made of balls" – which was the visual basis of the hero –, and finally the whole thing looked like a copy of Halo in third person. While the press release boasted about exploring planets, the screenshots only showed the gray and green interior of a bland ship. However, it was obvious that the action was there and the storyline didn't seem to be what the game was all about. A video of it was running above the booth, but the team didn't spend much time polishing the graphics and focused the demo on the in-house physics engine and its polygon management. But this video was edited with test levels created especially for E3, which proved that the press release talking about « early 2004 » as a release date was absolutely illusory since the development of the game was simply in its infancy.

While this trailer may have looked rudimentary, they had sincerely tried to do their best with the version they had before E3. It was only after E3 that the team was able to start refining the visual aspect and the realization of the world of Vectorman on PlayStation 2.

For E3, dynamic destruction and pervasive physics had been the most prominent elements, two features at the heart of Pseudo Interactive's proprietary engine that was designed for physics simulations, with rendering as a secondary function. Knowing this, it's easy to see why the team's next big achievement was the « Crash » demo, which spawned the Full Auto franchise (very edgy car games with lots of destruction possibilities that I admit I'm quite a fan of).

Once a 2D platformer with quick jumps and shots moves into 3D, it organically functions more like a shooter than a platformer, so the team took inspiration from games that were breaking new ground in this area at the time, such as Halo. The goal was clearly, at this stage of the game's development, to make the gameplay intuitive and fun while infusing it with the atmosphere and elements of Vectorman. It became a hybrid, but it was possible to amplify the « Vectorman-like » features and incorporate more nostalgic charm, fun and zaniness. Unfortunately, this was not possible after the project was abandoned.

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Pad Playstation 2 Vectorman

The character of the last 3D version of Vectorman did not always look like the Master Chief. The abandonment of the visual aesthetics and musical elements was the result of a too literal consideration of the development tests (character designs) by the top management. An incomprehensible decision, as Vectorman lost its DNA and its legendary charm. However, the team kept a version of him in the form of amalgamated orbs as an unlockable item (a possible bonus), and the body was modified to dance dynamically to the background music. This was even the essence of the first prototype they sent to SEGA!

Briefing from a meeting in April 2003

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The Vertical Slice of Vectorman Ps2

A PlayTest is to the video game industry what test screenings are to cinema. Now a systematic step in the development of a video game, it used to be less common. The studio would bring in people (family members, friends of friends...) to play their game, to find out what could be improved, what they liked or disliked. By seeking a compromise that satisfies everyone, the game's originality and intent can be lost.

The initial versions of Vectorman, numbered 3.14 internally, were the good ones. The team at Pseudo Interactive had captured the charm of the two Vectorman Mega Drive episodes and transferred it to 3D. The level, rudimentary at this stage of development, is fun to play and gives a glimpse of the license revival that PI wanted to achieve. Vectorman Playstation 2 3.14 would exploit the concept of Morphing. Weapons became extensions of the hero's arms, and Vectorman could also morph into a vehicle. The game had potential.

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A loading of Vectorman Halo-Like

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L'évolution du look de Vectorman durant le développement du jeu

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Pseudo Interactive wanted to stand out from the action platformers of the time by offering players the opportunity to join forces in a cooperative mode (initially on the same screen, then split later). Unlike the usual player vs. player combat, cooperation was desired and contained in the game script. It also avoided competing with other known shooters...

In the early 2000s, games offering the option of switching between FPS and TPS views were rare (Duke Nukem 3D, Elder Scroll...). It's not an industry standard, either then or now, although the concept is being used more and more. The design of a first-person shooter differs from that of a third-person shooter. It's necessary to find the right balance so that the two genres come together in a single game, and that it's fun to play no matter which view you choose. Developers Pseudo Interactive have introduced this concept in virtually every prototype of Vectorman 3.14 and Halo-Like. One build stands out from the rest - it's up to you to find it!

Delerict Space Ship Concept

Artwork Vectorman Ps2

Afterwards, what looks like a trailer was revealed, and it became very clear that a playable alpha build had been used for this. We can even find here and there some rare testimonies of journalists who could try it very briefly after E3, but nothing more. Was it only the E3 version? Was the game really in development? Nobody knew...

Everything must be destroyed

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Vectorman and his Jet Pack

Vectorman Playstation 2

Nova City Concept

Pseudo Interactive Artwork

On November 21, 2003 – barely six months later –, a tragedy strikes: Vectorman is officially cancelled by SEGA. The producer will have thus thrown away three proposals for a new issue for this saga which deserved much better.

Note that SEGA was in the throes of internal strife at the time, following the departure of Peter Moore, and the entire marketing department began to abandon ship.

The only thing left to find was this famous PS2 build (or one of the builds) that could be played, since it was certain that it existed. That's what's happened, and more, with 11 prototypes and production documents discovered! Which is probably why you're reading these lines. So... what to think about it ?  Vectorman on PS2 is not, as expected, after the reboot of its development, close to the two Mega Drive games.

Let's admit that the game is relatively fluid for the PS2, especially when you consider the level of destructibility of the environment. We're clearly, for the latest referenced VM build, on an unfinished multiplayer map, since the connection tunnels to different side locations are blocked. The ergonomics are basic, but nothing really spoils the party. You jump, you shoot, in short, you play without really knowing why, but it works. Unfortunately, even if the physics engine is efficient, the texturing is non-existent and you can't really judge the visual aspect with this build. Nevertheless, I have serious doubts about its relevance compared to other titles that are much more successful. When you think about the titles released in 2004 (the release date for Vectorman on PS2) or even before, you can understand why SEGA was a bit shy. There is a gap between Vectorman PS2 and Halo 2, in my opinion...

Concept of Vectorman PS2, the equivalent in game must be the map of a build

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Straight as a ramrod

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The most amusing thing? It was SEGA Japan who first announced the cancellation of Vectorman on PS2, before the news was relayed by SEGA of America. A fair return from a country that never really believed in this new mascot.

SEGA and Pseudo Interactive planned to sell 150,000 copies of the game in the US. As Vectorman Playstation 2 contained a minimum of violence and comic situations, it was recommended for players aged 14+. The aim was to redefine the franchise born on Mega Drive for the new console generation. Pre-production work on Vectorman PS2 began in the summer of 2002, and the game went into full production on January 13, 2003. The game was scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2004, in March to be precise.

The work on Vectorman PS2 was not entirely in vain. The physics engine that had impressed the privileged few who had been able to play it had been reused for « Crash Demo », which would eventually become « Full Auto » on Xbox 360, another game paradoxically resulting from the collaboration between SEGA and Pseudo Interactive. The engine for Vectorman was designed as a physics simulation first and a rendering engine second, and from that point of view, it was a real success. Physically and dynamically, no other game on PS2 came close.

 However, making with Vectorman PS2 a shooter was an interesting idea, even if we inevitably find similarities with other games, which was inevitable as the transition to 3D made many 2D games lose their identity due to a standardization of the rendering.

The main characters (Vectorman 3.14)

Just like cartoons and comic strips, video game characters are complete creations, illustrating imaginary creatures as well as humanoids and humans in a variety of realistic and caricatural representations...

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In video games where the protagonist evolves in a particular universe, the narrative arc is often marked by competition and even violence, with the hero gaining in power and experience as the story progresses.

Designed to be captivating, the secondary characters arouse curiosity and generate additional emotions such as sadness, euphoria, disappointment, disgust, doubt or love, in keeping with the game's storyline. Will one of them die? Will a crazy situation arise when interacting with an NPC?

The characters that Vectorman, the Orbot savior of humanity, would encounter during his first 3D appearance all had their own personalities and visual identities. Here are the main protagonists of Pseudo Interactive's game during their design study, namely that the developers were experimenting with new looks for Vectorman in-game, as demonstrated by some of the revisions in build 3.14 :

Vectorman

A legendary hero and savior of mankind, he has practically disappeared from view since his fateful encounter with the Orbot known as Volt.

He's one of only two Orbots ever created in the V series. His sense of adventure and gift for saving the galaxy have made him a legend, while his "shoot first, ask questions later" attitude gets him into a lot of trouble.

Enhanced and reactivated to save Gamma 6, he discovers that the person responsible for rebuilding him has disappeared and that Gamma 6's Orbots have been enslaved. With a blank memory and an incomplete arsenal, he must travel to the surface of Gamma 6, find Aura (Pixel) and put an end to the evil that threatens Gamma 6 and the Orbot race.

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Aura or Pixel (the name certainly changed during game development)

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Created by Volt, Aura is the first Orbot prototype of  the Future series. With an experimental S.O.U.L. core and cutting-edge specifications, Aura has access to new sensations and experiences inaccessible to older Orbot models. Sexy, intelligent and determined, Aura can think and fight her way out of difficult situations.

Fiery and compassionate, Aura has rebuilt the legendary Vectorman Orbot in secret on her orbital station. Her recent disappearance has triggered Vectorman's reactivation, and her only means of communication with him is the mysterious Datasphere.

Volt

With a mysterious past and a penchant for secrecy, little is known about the Series V Orbot known as Volt. A calculating genius and brilliant inventor, he has his sights set on conquering Gamma 6 and Earth.

Volt considers Orbots superior to humans in every way, and is constantly looking for new ways to advance the Orbot species with his diabolical plans. The conflicting relationship between Volt and his fellow Series V Orbot, Vectorman, came to a head long ago in a clash in the depths of space, with Volt managing to defeat Earth's defender but at the cost of severe damage sustained in the battle.

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Empress Texel

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A compassionate leader of the Orbot Empire, Empress Texel is dedicated to the development of the Orbot robotic society.  Eager to have an heir, Texel entrusted her loyal confidant Volt with the task of crafting Aura.  Unbeknownst to Volt, she has given her progeny a more powerful spark of emotion, in the hope that her heir will surpass her and lead the Orbots to a better world.

Texel's confident nature is reinforced by a majestic grace that has earned him the respect of his subjects throughout the Orbot Empire. Texel's naivety has called into question his merit among his enslaved subjects and paved the way for Volt's evil machinations.

The pre-production phase is a little-known stage of video game design. This is when the game takes shape, often without a single line of code. The scriptwriters will write the storyline, the adventure that players will experience alongside them. The artists will find the ideal look for the game's locations, levels and characters, proposing different designs for approval. All of the development studio's employees, from a wide variety of professions, will contribute to the creation of what will be the future of their videogame.

The storyline of Vectorman PS2 level by level (3.14)

Gameplay takes place between 2 different worlds, the real world of Gamma 6 and a parallel plane of reality known as the Datasphere. Moving from one world to the other, the player will be drawn deeply into a dark story full of twists and turns, filled with combat and exploration. As the story progresses, the player is rewarded with new weapons to obtain, new Orbots to destroy, new locations to explore and new goals to accomplish. The ultimate aim is to find Aura and put an end to Volt and his diabolical plans for conquest.

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Gamma 6

As they explore the robotic world of Gamma 6, they assemble a high-tech arsenal of 8 weapons and 14 upgrades to combat Volt's henchmen. Each of these weapons has a role in both combat and exploration, and is acquired via a skill called Assimilation (present in the January and February 2003 prototypes).

Assimilation absorbs the carcasses of deactivated Orbots and converts them into photonic energy. This energy is used as ammunition for Vectorman's arsenal, enabling him to confront his enemies and interact more with the game world. Photons are also found throughout this world in various tanks and containers, but mainly come from the Assimilation of Orbot bodies.

Galactic map

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(This introduction at the beginning of the GDD gives no details of the environments the player will encounter as he explores Gamma 6. These will be covered just before the missions are described).

The Datasphere

The Datasphere is a distinct plane of reality, a living, pulsating information network brimming with data that is accessible to the player via terminals scattered across Gamma 6. These secret portals can only be accessed by a handful of Orbots: Aura and Vectorman both possess this unique skill, as does the mysterious Volt.

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The progression of levels

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Very important for understanding the plans

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Inside the Datasphere, Vectorman's visual representation is transformed into a stylized version of his Gamma 6 form. Vectorman now appears as a being made of energy with data flowing through it, instead of its usual realistic form. Visually, it resembles the digital rain from The Matrix. Control inside the Datasphere changes slightly, as it has no gravity to speak of.

The adventure begins

As with the plans, the game script uses the abbreviations :

E for Environment

L for Location
M for Mission

E1 Aura’s Hideout: In an orbital station high above Gamma 6 lies the secret hideout of Aura, heiress to the Orbot Empire. In the solitude of space and before her disappearance, Aura rebuilt a new and improved version of Vectorman.  However, she was unable to complete the initialization of her arsenal systems, and repairs to her memory banks were not completed.

L1 Orbital Station: Its hideaway appears to have been abandoned some time ago, but its systems have remained functional and all equipment has been kept/maintained in excellent condition. Part scientific laboratory, part living database, the hideout's Datasphere contains detailed files and notes relating to Aura's investigations into the mysterious events on Gamma 6. Filled with screens and monitoring devices, the heart of the station continuously collects data on events taking place around Gamma 6 and Nova City.

M01 Cold start: Vectorman is activated and informed that his arsenal systems are incomplete. Currently on an orbital station above the Orbots' home world of Gamma 6, Vectorman receives a pre-recorded message from Aura telling him to go to the orbital station's control center. There, he can activate a Transportail to the Nova City docking center. Once there, he'll have to collect data on the city from the visitor center he'll find there.

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L1 Access Node: Overlooking Nova City, the Access Node is a low-orbit spaceport for anyone wishing to visit or leave Gamma 6. Located at the cold outer limits of Gamma 6's stratosphere, it was built long ago in anticipation of a celebratory visit by humans. Nova City's Access Point is part of a secure network of access points controlling entry to and exit from the Orbot world. Ships dock at the huge disk forming the Docking Center, which caps a gigantic tower that extends down to the planet's surface. At the base of this is the Switching Center, a huge central station for Orbot traffic entering and leaving the city.

M01 Docking Hub: At the Access Point Docking Hub, Vectorman has an altercation with a contingent of royal guards investigating the recent docking of Aura's orbital station. Monitoring the situation from his Catacombs, Volt sees an opportunity to attribute Aura's recent disappearance to this newly-arrived stranger, but he doesn't yet realize that it's his former sworn enemy.

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Transit Tubes (M02 in the "VM Updated Story (November 2002)" document, but not in the "GDD (January 2003)". Level deleted?): On Volt's orders, the Royal Guard attempts to capture Vectorman. Outnumbered and outclassed, he must now escape from the Access Point via the Transport Tubes to reach the upper level of Nova City with Volt's guards at your heels. The chase is on in a vertical race for the planet's surface! Vectorman transforms into a high-speed flying car and hurtles through the winding Transport Tubes.

M02 Junction Centre: With the royal guard now alerted to his presence, Vectorman's only hope of continuing his mission requires him to fight his way through the Junction Centre, now swarming with royal guards and scanners, and into the heart of Nova City.

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L2 Upper Level: Home to the latest generation of Orbots, the Upper Level is elegant, immaculate and buzzing with life. This posh part of Nova City casts an unreal glow over the Lower Level, with holographic advertisements projected from suspended buildings, airways blurred by the light trails of flying vehicles and multi-level walkways offering spine-chilling views of the landscape below. The brilliant lights of the Upper Level create the ambient light around Nova City, with artificial day/night cycles achieved by varying the lights of the buildings massed in the Upper Levels. A changing iridescence paints the landscape, projecting through the clouds onto the Lower Levels from above.

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M01 Amusement Sector: Wanted and on the run, Vectorman makes his way through Nova City's Upper Level. Moving through the dense mass of suspended buildings on the Upper Level, Vectorman is secretly pursued by an enigmatic Orbot named Sigma.

M02 Orbotic Advancement Facility (OAF) (Or Orbotic Advancement Complex in the plans, Level E3 of Halo-like prototypes?) Ministry of Orbotic Advancement (MOA): Strange spikes of photonic energy are coming from the OAF, a huge research center run by the MOA. The OAF readings are consistent with the specifics of photonic emissions from Future Type Orbots. It's possible that Aura is being held prisoner here, but why? Armada-type Orbots are transported here via Transportails, contributing to high photon energy readings. These energy spikes mask a control signal used to pacify the Orbots residing on the Upper Level. Vectorman's objective is to discover and destroy the source of the signal, a transmitter at the heart of the OAF.

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L3 Lower Level: Neglected and aging, the Lower Level is home to the working caste and older-generation Orbots. Enclosed by a large outer retaining wall and fed by the light of the Upper Level, the citizens of the Lower Level are prisoners of their own world. Low-flying traffic rushes by, made up of cargo transports and law-enforcement patrols. Vapors and pollution mingle in a corrosive fog that envelops the homes and factories crammed into this medieval wasteland. Apart from the omnipresent propaganda in the streets, the only real view these unfortunate souls have is of the opulence of their oppressors floating above them and the titanic Artillery Towers reinforcing Nova City's defenses. In view of recent events on the Upper Level, a lockdown has been instituted and Nova City's defensive wall has been activated.

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M01 The Junkyard: Vectorman evades capture by entering an OAF terminal. He emerges from an aging terminal in the sprawling junkyards of the Lower Level. The barely functional remains of old-generation Orbots litter the Dump, some containing links to his lost past. As Vectorman scours the Dump for more terminals in the hope of re-establishing communication with Aura, he discovers information about tribal bands of Orbots living outside the walls of Nova City. These tribes are remnants and descendants of the first colonization expedition from Earth, and hold information on the history of Gamma 6 that has been all but lost to the new generation of Orbots.

M02 Orbot Ghetto: Vectorman must find and destroy the signal generators that litter the Ghetto, while battling the depletion of photonic energy that has plagued the Lower Level recently. Vectorman's quest through the Ghetto Orbot leads him to hop from terminal to terminal, following Aura's trail in the hope of reconnecting with her. Contact with Aura is limited, but she informs Vectorman that she has managed to free herself from her captors and has escaped the Sentinels sweeping the Datasphere. As Vectorman makes his way through the Ghetto, he learns from some old-model Orbots that many of them have disappeared from the Lower Level. Along the way, he discovers that the signal used to enslave Lower Level citizens is a modified version of the one that soothes Upper Level citizens. He must destroy as many of these modified signal generators as possible.

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M03 Cannon Spire no.2 (Artillery Tower no.2): The trail of signal generators leads Vectorman to the artillery towers, huge defensive turrets guarding the outer walls of Nova City. Vectorman must infiltrate these heavily-guarded artillery towers in order to use their military-grade Datasphere terminals to transmit to Aura the crucial data he has gathered on the signals used to control the Orbots, while destroying the photonic siphoning equipment used to power Transportails similar to those encountered at the OAF. Vectorman's journey takes him to the top of Artillery Tower #2 and to new clues as to who is responsible for this mysterious assault on the citizens of the Orbot Empire, and opens the way for him to venture outside Nova City. This success leads to the destruction of the Defensive Barrier surrounding Nova City and the return of photonic energy to the Lower Level.

E3 Techno Wilderness: Mysterious and decrepit, the Ruins of Techno Wilderness lie just outside Nova City's retaining wall. The Ruins are dangerously beautiful, rustling with abandoned experimental orbs, pulsing with an eerie glow from the shaky structures nearby, while the headlights and glowing eyes of its Nova City castaways mysteriously shuffle through the darkness like zombies.

M01 Outer Walls of Nova City: The deactivation of the Defensive Barrier surrounding Nova City has given Lower Level citizens the will to rise up against their oppressors. Determined to find the person responsible for the enslavement of Orbot cities across Gamma 6, Vectorman follows disturbing clues found in Nova City that point to an infiltrator at the heart of the Orbot Empire. Knowing that his trip to the Techno Wasteland will cut off his communications with Vectorman, Aura tasks him with recovering abandoned journals from the Ruins. Vectorman battles the armies around the Outer Rim, fighting his way through the darkness of the Techno Savages to track down those responsible for the Gamma 6 incursion.

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Vectorman_Playstation_Unreleased_map
Vectorman_PS2_Unreleased_level
VM_pseudo_interactive-map

M02 Mysterious Ruins: Hidden in the dark outskirts of Nova City lie the ruins of the first orbital colony established on Gamma 6. Here, Vectorman finds Aura's diary on an ancient terminal, revealing new clues to her recent past. The last remaining 1st-generation Orbots shed light on the fate of the colony and the Intersection Outpost leading to the Wastelands. The diary raises more questions about the nature of the Orbots' energy source and Vectorman's past, while the stories of the 1st generation Orbots provide clues to another piece of the puzzle: The Abandoned Ship hidden in the Wastelands.

M03 Crossroads Outpost: At the junction of the Mysterious Ruins and the edge of the Desolate Lands lies an isolated Orbot outpost. This Frontier Legion stronghold was originally built as a mining colony, but is now lifeless after an attack suffered years earlier. Terminals almost all destroyed in the attack show a lone figure decimating the entire complex and its inhabitants. Hidden among the debris, journals left by the outpost's scientific team show that Gamma 6 does not possess the limitless reserves of photonic energy that human research seemed to suggest.

Vectorman_Playstation2_Sony
Level_Vectorman_Sega

The level plans included in the Vectorman Playstation 2 archive stop at Crossroads Outpost, while the GDD continues right through to the end of the game, even if the information is gradually reduced. This was enough for Pseudo Interactive to present its concept and how it was articulated. The parts presented here focus mainly on the game's progress, while the GDD contains even more information about the story and its progression (cut-scenes, twists, secrets...). The player will still have to visit places and levels such as :

L2 Canyons

[M01] Desolate Wastelands

L3 Derelict Startship

[M01] Exterior/Hull Breach

[M02] Engine Room/Cargo Hold

[M03] Bridge/Volt’s Shell

E4 Texel's Citadel

L1 Prime Echelon

M01 Royal Halls

M02 Spark Chambers

L2 Labor Camp

M01 Training Centre

M02 Assembly Line

M03 Reconstitution Factory

L3 Volt's Catacombs

M01 The Labyrinth

M02 Alpha Datasphere

E5 Volt's Secret Weapon

L1 Deep Space

M01 Deep Space Battle

Important:

 

  • The sketches and artworks in this article and on the page "The history of Pseudo Interactive and more information, assets and artworks for Vectorman PS2" do not necessarily reflect the final product. These are undoubtedly design researches of Vectorman PS2's emblematic characters and locations undertaken by Pseudo Interactive during the game's pre-production phase.

  • The information in the chapters "The storyline of Vectorman PS2 level by level (3.14)" or "The main characters (Vectorman 3.14)" is taken from a Game Design document dated January 3, 2003. Elements (additions, modifications or deletions) may have occurred between the writing of the document and the development of the game, which was cancelled at the end of 2003. This does not necessarily represent reality, but it does give an idea of the distribution of levels and the history of Pseudo Interactive's Vectorman before the game's reboot and the Halo approach undertaken. It's impossible to know whether the project reboot also concerned the game's story, scenario and antoganists.

  • It's not easy to decipher game design documents without having experienced the creative process of the title in question from the inside. It's a matter of personal interpretation, and the information obtained may be erroneous.

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Not all the conceptual material available to me for this paper could be used. The rest can be found on the page: "The history of Pseudo Interactive and more information, assets and artworks for Vectorman PS2".

The Vectorman PS2 Debug Menu

Nine out of eleven prototypes have an operational Debug Menu. The ISOs of the other two builds have been modified, changing just one byte of data, to make it active. Team Wulinshu's LemonHaze has made the necessary corrections to enable the Debug Menu to be used on all Vectorman Playstation 2 betas and even on the final version of Cel Damage PS2.

VM Debug Menu

The famous Debug Menu

Debug_Menu_Vectorman_Pseudo_Interactive.jpg

TweakData 1

Playstation 2 Vectorman Debug Menu.jpg

The Debug Menu used by Pseudo Interactive's developers is very detailed and substantial. It evolved as Vectorman development progressed. A Debug Menu version number and the time stamp of the prototype's creation appear on the selection screen for the various options that accompany it. With each new version, new possibilities for configuring the game appear. Other special functions are unique to certain builds, such as PlantCamera (fixed camera on a point), which was used in the Vectorman 3D trailer shown at E3 2003. Another fun Debug feature is the ability to activate AI on the player himself!

The Debug Menu is always hidden in the title's pause menu. It's easy to find, unlike in other games. The "L3" and "R3" button combo at the same time with the A controller, in-game, acts as a shortcut to direct access to the multiple and complex parameters of the "TweakData 1" option.

The "Tweadata 1" menu is packed with options, such as removing the user interface, making the playable character invisible, changing the movement speed of the camera orientation, and so on. The best thing is to try it out and find out for yourself!

How to use the Debug Menu:

Lighting system

LightDiff_Debug_Menu_Vectorman_PS2.jpg
  • START, X or L3 : Activate an option to modify the game accordingly

  • Left analog joystick (L-Stick) up and down or any direction on the D-Pad (directional cross): Move around the Debug Menu or "TweakData 1" sub-options

  • Right analog joystick (R-Stick) up and down: change the value (increase or decrease) where the red cursor is located, only usable in "TweakData 1".

  • Right analog joystick (R-Stick) left and right: move the red cursor from left to right to select a value to be modified, only usable in "TweakData 1".

  • L3 + R3 (left and right analog joystick buttons) in game: shortcut to open "TweakData 1" option

  • Triangle : Backspace

Feelings system

A variation in the TweakData 1 submenu:

Feeling_Vectorman_PS2_Unreleased.jpg
  • X in "TweakData 1" : Open and access a new window for the selected "TweakData 1" sub-option. Here, the up button on the right-hand analog Joystick or the D-Pad directions are used to navigate through the values proposed on the screen, and the X button, once again, to enter them in the line below the sub-option name. Multiple values can be entered. To make the change effective, simply select "Accept" and press X. To go back without making any changes to the game, press "Cancel" or simply the "triangle" button.

Important: When opening the "TweakData 1" sub-option directly with the button combo explained above, a level map may appear in some builds. If this happens, close and reopen "TweakData 1" until the map disappears. "TweakData 1" is not necessarily present in all prototypes.

The development options for Vectorman PS2 and its multiplayer mode

This build of Vectorman Playstation 2 contains the "Free Camera" development option, ideal for taking nice photos or making attractive videos, amateur filmmakers are likely to love it. To activate it, you need to press the SELECT button on the controller connected to the console's A port three times. The SELECT button has another feature called "TimeWarp" which consists in slowing down the prototpye at three different stages, 0.50, 0.25 and then freezing the game allowing to use the "Free Camera" command. Its instructions are explained below:

  • SELECT: Slow down the game until it freezes (3 different stages). The "Free Camera" option can only be used when the game is at a complete stop

  • Left analog joystick (L-Stick): Move in the arena without the possibility of depth (up or down) or orientation (forward, backward and sideways movement)

  • Right analog joystick (R-Stick): Turn the view angle in the desired direction

  • L2 + R2 (left and right trigger number 2): In order, go down and up

  • D-Pad (directional cross) up and down: Zoom in and out with a blur effect (3 distinct degrees)

Vectorman 3.14 multiplayer prototype.jpg
Sega Vectorman Ps2 Multiplayer.jpg

To play the game cooperatively with a friend, in most cases all you have to do is press the "L1" key on controller number 2, and the second player will appear. The screen will be split horizontally for Halo-Like builds, or the multiplayer game will be played on the same screen for Vectorman 3.14 versions. Some builds don't have a multiplayer mode.

Important: The way to activate development options or multiplayer mode may differ slightly for some builds. Some prototypes, of which there are not many, have other development options, such as the ability to change the view of the character (detailed explanation in the analysis of prototypes in this case).as).

Download links

Like Sonic, Mario and Zelda before it, Vectorman (SEGA's famous Mega Drive robot) should have made the transition from 2D to 3D on Playstation 2. Here are 11 different prototypes and concept documents for the game. Developed by Pseudo Interactive (the same independent development studio as Full Auto on Xbox 360) and published by SEGA, the game was eventually cancelled. Perhaps it looked too much like the Master Chief from Microsoft's Halo game!

This rare and imposing archive tells the story of the complicated development of Vectorman Playstation 2, and the concessions Pseudo Interactive had to make. In its early days, the title was faithful to the episodes released on Mega Drive. Then, following some incomprehensible decisions by the publisher, development was restarted, with the focus on a completely different type of game.

Each prototype is unique, offering a different gaming experience (new levels, experimentation with game mechanics, concept testing, changes in artistic direction, etc.). The 11 builds, accompanied by a multitude of conceptual documents, make up the almost complete development cycle of Vectorman Playstation 2.

It's a fantastic behind-the-scenes look at the making of Pseudo Interactive's game. Gamers today, 20 years on, can only feel sorry for the Canadian studio's developers, as Vectorman Playstation 2 was heading in the right direction from the very start of the project, back in 2002.

The prototypes have been divided into 4 categories and dedicated pages:

Happy exploring and enjoy!

Homemade Vectorman Playstation 2 covers

Homemade covers for Vectorman PS2 have been designed to celebrate the release of information, documents and prototypes 20 years after the game's cancellation. The discovery of an Unreleased should be honored with a fanfare to thank all those who worked on it.

Homemade Cover of Vectorman PS2.jpg

Homemade French and English cover by Sapass Krem, from Vectorman Playstation 2 (Halo-Like).  Creamy!

  • Download Vectorman Playstation 2 Homemade Covers.

  • To print the covers, open the PDF for the desired language and choose "print full size" in the dialog box.

  • The PDF is the right size, so you can dress up your game!

You can download this Homemade Cover of Vectorman Playstation 2 (Halo-Like) below:

Cover Homemade de Vectorman PS2 Halo-Like (French and English)

Sega Vectorman PS2 Cover.jpg

Homemade English cover, designed by Benedikt Scheffer, for Vectorman Playstation 2 (3.14).

  • Download Vectorman Playstation 2 Homemade Covers.

  • To print the covers, open the PDF for the desired language and choose "print full size" in the dialog box.

  • The PDF is the right size, so you can dress up your game!

You can download this Homemade Cover of Vectorman Playstation 2 (3.14) below:

Cover Homemade de Vectorman 3.14 PS2 (English)

The early looks of Vectorman Playstation 2 and its prototypes

These 4 prototypes, called Vectorman 3.14, represent the Pseudo Interactive team's initial vision of Vectorman 3D. It was undoubtedly the September 29 build (a Vertical Slice) that was shown to SEGA in order to validate the game's idea and initiate a future collaboration between the former console manufacturer and the Toronto-based development studio (playable levels specific to these betas).

Vectorman_PS2_Unreleased_3.14.jpg

The Vectorman Playstation 2 transition phase and its prototypes

These 2 prototypes are undoubtedly from the transition phase between the initial idea (VM 3.14) and the full Halo treatment that Vectorman PS2 finally received. It's a mix of the first drafts of the game and what it would become later (playable levels specific to these betas).

Pseudo_Interactive_Vectorman.jpg

When Vectorman Playstation looked like Halo and its prototypes

These 5 prototypes reveal Vectorman Playstation 2 after its development has been restarted and it has been given the Halo-Like treatment. The physics are impressive, and the game was meant to be ambitious. It just shouldn't have been called "Vectorman" (playable levels specific to these betas).

Vectorman_Playstation2_Halo_Like.jpg

Bonus

Reverse Engineering is a field of expertise that requires special skills and a lot of free time. It's an activity that very few people engage in. The prototypes or games to be examined must be carefully selected. Unreleased games are a prime target. Reverse Engineering work on Vectorman has enabled us to better understand its structure and modify it, but not only that...

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Vectorman PS2 Mod.jpg
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The results of LemonHaze's understanding of the structure and function of Vectorman Playstation 2: "The Reverse Engineering of Vectorman Playstation 2".

Documents related to game development

There is no pre-established protocol to follow when creating a video game, and nothing is set in stone. Whether the project in preparation is First Party (Studio owned by the manufacturers), Second Party (Game made by a third party but financed by a manufacturer) or Third Party (Game made by a third party), certain documents will be more important while others will not be necessary. Their form is often linked to media ( console , Pc, VR , AR, mixed reality...) and game genres ( MMO, Adventure Game, Simulation, Die & Retry ... etc.... ). Each studio draws up its own specifications, which also differ according to its size (10 employees, 50, 400...).

Internal design documents unite the development team around their future production. Their synthesis must be clear, structured and concise. In this way, the studio's employees will know the guidelines to be followed, and will have a shared overall vision of the game in progress. The project must progress coherently, in line with the initial vision. They help to keep things on track, and prevent everyone from going off in all directions and spreading themselves too thin. It's all a question of communication. There are plenty of other tools for communicating and formalizing ideas. It's up to the studio to find its own style and reinvent itself each time.

Externally, if the studio is Third Party, as Pseudo Interactive was with Vectorman Playstation 2 towards SEGA, preliminary documents such as the Game Design Document (Vectorman-DesignDoc 1-4-03) are essential. They are intended to reassure the publisher of the project's progress and contribute to its enhancement. For Vectorman, in addition to the presentation of the characters, scenario and level-by-level story of the game presented above, there are sections referencing enemies and their descriptions, as well as weapons and their attributes. The prototype closest to the GDD, the developer's Bible, is that dated December 3, 2002.

A video game is first and foremost a concept. In other words, it's important to understand what makes the project in question special, what sets it apart from others and how it will stand out from the crowd. The primary intention will then be used to develop the gameplay, narrative, theme and target audience. The basic idea will be mentioned on the first pages of the concept documents. This is how the game will be sold, for example, to a publisher. Other documents, such as the "Overview", present what the players will see and what the atmosphere will be like.

Happy reading (direct download links in red)!!!!

Vectorman Quality Assessment document (1
Vectorman_Game_Overview (Sep 30, 2002 document).jpg
VM_TDD (Sep 27, 2002 document) Vectorman.jpg
Vectorman_Game_Overview PDF (Sep 30, 2002 document).jpg
Vectorman_Control_Layout (Sep 30, 2002 document).jpg
Vectorman Design Ideas (Oct 16, 2002 document).jpg
Vectorman Updated Story (Nov 26, 2002 document).jpg
Vectorman E3 Document (PS2)
Vectorman Short Intro (Jan 06, 2002 document).jpg
Vectorman-DesignDoc 1-4-03 (Jan 03, 2003 document).jpg
VM GDD
Vectorman NOTES - Grapple (May 10, 2003 document).jpg
Vectorman NOTES - Misc.jpg
Vectorman NOTES - Misc Ramblings1.jpg
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More Grappler Notes (Jun 17, 2003 document) Vectorman.jpg

We can only thank all the team of Pseudo Interactive (lien Mobygames de Full Auto Xbox 360) involved in the Vectorman Playstation 2 project for having attempted the transition from 2D to 3D of the most famous robot of the Mega Drive. We can only feel sorry for them for not having been able to go to the end of their desires and their creations!

Special thanks to:

Feel free to have a look at the "other Unreleased games" I found" For the more curious among you, I created a "List of all the unreleased games of the Dreamcast".