Vanguard is a 1981 arcade game developed by TOSE, and published by SNK in Japan in 1981 and later during the same year in Germany by the same publisher, while it was licensed to Centuri for manufacture in North America in October 1981 and by Zaccaria in Italy during the same year, putting SNK on the map in those regions. The game was also licensed to Cinematronics for conversion to cocktail arcade cabinets in North America.
The game is known as one of the first scrolling shooters ever made that allowed scrolling in multiple directions, and is additionally notable by being the first shoot ’em up where a player can shoot in four different directions. Also, unlike other comparable games at the time, Vanguard was unique in that the player must focus on avoiding obstacles while firing in order to survive; which made this game a precursor to Konami’s Gradius and Irem’s R-Type. It also has the distinction of being the first colored game released by SNK. It was also an early example of a dual-control game, similar to the later Robotron 2084, but using four directional buttons rather than a second joystick.
PLOT: The Gond has been terrorizing nearby space colonies with its periodic raids of destruction. The time has come to put an end to his reign of terror. The player has been selected to pilot an advanced fighter ship with high offensive capabilities, and must enter the cave inside the asteroid where the Gond makes his home, and safely fly through every zone; the Mountain Zone, Rainbow Zone, Styx Zone, Stripe Zone, Bleak Zone, and the City of Mystery (aka Last Zone) where the Gond is rumored to reside. The player must take the Gond out, and succeed in the mission. If unsuccessful, the colonies will be doomed.