Vanguard was an arcade game developed by “shadow” developer TOSE, and released in Japan by SNK in late 1981 and licensed for North America by Centuri. It was an important intermediate step towards modern side-scrolling shoot-em-ups such as Gradius and R-Type, improving on a genre first formed by William’s seminal Defender.
Today in the Ad Game we feature a TV commercial for the Atari 2600 port of Vanguard:
Vanguard was definitely a great arcade game, and the 2600 version a spectacular port that demonstrates the amazing things Atari programmers were able to pull off with the platform as it matured. This ad, however, doesn’t do any of that justice. For instance, who trades off the joystick to their buddies in the middle of a game? Hard to keep your concentration and momentum going with some jerk begging for the joystick. Just wait until he crashes, it won’t be long. Try shouting “The wall, the wall!” into his ear, that oughta speed up his destruction. One of the big innovations touted in Vanguard was the ability to shoot in four directions, but in the ad the shooting looks pretty spastic. The key to any successful shooter is the precision of your shots, and here it looks like the gunner is having a seizure. Then, of course, we have the hulking Luthor, who’s sole responsibility is to defeat the Gond, the boss at the end of the round. A man of few words, it is rumoured that Luthor once, when a kid refused to give up the joystick to him, stuffed the poor bastard’s hand completely into the cartridge slot. We can only know his moods by his demented chuckling. Perhaps Luthor is related to Beavis?