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2600 box art.

Vanguard, known in Japan as ヴァンガード [Ban Gado] Vanguard" is scrolling shooter developed by TOSE and published by SNK in arcades in 1981. It was later ported to the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200. In the game's story you pilot a space ship through the dangerous Mountain Zone, Rainbow Zone, Styx Zone, Stripe Zone, Bleak Zone, and to the City of Mystery where you must defeat Gond before he destroys the space colonies.

Vanguard used an unusual 4 firing buttons, one for each direction. It also was one of the first scrolling shooters to scroll in multiple directions over the course of the game. Each zone is occupied with a different type of enemy ship and has natural hazards that must be avoided. Your ship steadily loses fuel which is replenished by successfully destroying enemy ships. The famous musical tune that plays when you touch the energy block is Vultan's Theme (Attack of the Hawk Men) from the Flash Gordon film.

I first played Vanguard in the mid-1980s on my family's Atari 2600. My family and our neighborhood friends pretended it was like a Star Wars game and make believe we were characters like Yoda and Luke would It wasn't until years later that I learned it was originally an arcade game.


I no longer own Vanguard, but my current high score is 76,870.


  • Overall: 4/10
  • Best Version: Atari 2600


  • The game is a pioneer in the scrolling shooter genre, alternating the direction of scrolling each level.
  • The Atari 2600 port's design to alter your ship's speed based on whether you're shooting was a nice tactical addition since it couldn't recreate the 4-button arcade layout.
  • The cavern walls in the Atari 2600 port use wonderful rainbow bands.


  • The game's graphics are pretty bad. Drawing cavern walls with boxes is pretty cheap, even for 1981.
  • The game only has two caves, both nearly identical, which continually repeat.
  • I don't like how enemy shots block your own.
  • The Atari ports don't accurately handle to dual joystick firing mechanic of the arcade, so you're forced to move in the direction you want to shoot.


  • Nothing.

Box Art