Sure, nowadays 3-D technology doesn't impress us without realistic bump-mapping and 19 layers of translucent skin textures. But in the days of Tempest and Blaster, 3-D was all about making geometric objects fly quickly at your face. Hearken back to those adrenaline-happy days with Vector Runner, an arcade action driving game concerned purely with the sensation of speed.
You control a humble blue cube on its journey down a futuristic highway, dodging deadly pyramids of various shapes and sizes. The arrow keys steer the cube left and right, but its velocity is out of your hands. Wherever you need to be, you're going there fast. If you can catch them as they shoot by, colored cubes will give you extra points, restore your shields, or even grant you temporary invulnerability.
That's the whole game. The top ten high scores start at 105,000. Good luck.
Analysis: Undoubtedly, the in-house production team at Dig Your Own Grave drew heavy inspiration from Max Abernathy's Cubefield, but where Cubefield could be meditative or even psychedelic, Vector Runner focuses strictly on speeding up your heart rate. From the woosh of the passing structures, to the lurching tilt of the screen when you move, to the way the camera dips closer to the road every time you accelerate, every detail makes you feel lucky to be alive, considering how ridiculously fast you are traveling.
Aesthetically, Vector Runner is exactly what it needs to be. The relentless techno backbeat fits the pace of the game perfectly, but you can turn it off in favor of your own tunes if you like. The visual effects are stunning, in a retro-vector-graphics sort of way. There is nothing quite like having an EMP mine white out the screen just when you're about to enter a massive rush of pyramids.
There are actually not very many obstacles to avoid, compared to Cubefield and other games of this type, but that is where the game traps you. It is easy to become complacent, once you get used to the steering and pass safely through a couple of tricky situations. You're rocketing along, taking short, controlled turns, only risking your life for the most convenient bonus cubes. You're in control. Now is a good time to blink, or maybe take a deep breath.
And that's when you die.