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Vanguard (Atari 2600) Retro Review

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

Game Name: Vanguard

Developer: TOSE

Publisher: Atari Inc, SNK, Centuri adn Zaccaria

Release Date: 1982 (Atari)

Platforms: Atari 2600, Arcade, Atari 5200


This is one of the Atari games that we actually owned when I was a kid. I will be honest, I was never really good at it. Not sure why. it is not a super difficult game but I guess I would lose interest after while. Let us see how it holds up after over 30 years.


Like usual, with any Atari game you have to let your imagination run wild. You play as a fire ship. Your ship can shoot in any direction. You can shoot up, down, right and left. You are not able to shoot diagonally. The directional pad or joystick dictates where you shoot and at the same time you guide your ship killing enemies or avoiding them.

You periodically get a power up when playing. When you touch an E, you get a small jolt of invincibility for a few moments. The music used seems to be from the Flash Gordon movie. In the arcade version, the opening theme is also taken from another popular movie, Star Trek. You can hear them here.

Arcade Music for Vanguard

Obviously the Atari 2600 was not as colourful. However, it was well received at the time because the compromise in the visuals, did not compromise the game. The gameplay remained pretty truthful to the arcade version.

What I am also amazed is that the Flash Gordon music from the arcade version is also in the game. I always found that soundtrack cool. Made me want to find that power up all the time.

There are 7 levels in the Atari version

  1. Mountain Zone

  2. Rainbow Zone

  3. Stick Zone

  4. Rainbow Zone 2

  5. Striped Zone

  6. Rainbow Zone 3

  7. Bleak Zone

The levels go either horizontal or vertical. In normal cases they alternate between one and the other. in Vertical cases, you sometimes scroll up and in others you scroll down.

That is pretty much it in terms of the gameplay. Here is gameplay that I recorded on Twitch.

Vanguard (Atari 2600) Gameplay


This game can be fun. The soundtrack is what makes it for me. I just want to hear that Flash Gordon theme song over and over again. The sound is pretty good for the Atari and they hold up pretty well.

This was a perfect game for the Atari 2600 controller. Playing with a more modern controller is a little more difficult. It is rare that I say this but I rather play this game with an Atari 2600 controller.

The cover art also looks really cool. Again it keeps reminding me of the days when you would buy a game based on cover art. At least, unlike infiltrate, the cover art is a little more indicative of the gameplay.

Rating: 7.5 lasers out of 10

There you have it. Did you like this game back in the day? What did you like or did not like about it. Let me know at the coordinates below.

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