The future of the human race looks hopeless when maintenance drones accidentally replace the orbot leader's head with a salvaged atomic bomb. All the orbots on Earth are immediately ordered, via television receivers, to stop cleaning up the planet and to start manufacturing weapons for an impending ambush of the returning humans. Only one orbot, a sludge barge pilot who was out of communications range, is unaffected by the evil take-over. You are that pilot: VectorMan! The only hope of the entire human race is for you to destroy the villainous WarHead: you must seek him out by following a trail of television receivers around the Earth, and then confront him in a battle that will decide the fate of humanity, and of the planet Earth itself!
VectorMan is a side-scrolling shooter with multidirectional aiming. Before the time runs out, the player must traverse a level from left to right and find the exit, possibly guarded by a boss, but not necessarily. While the levels are generally linear, they may have several platforms awaiting exploration, including hard-to-reach areas hiding power-ups. Three specific levels are unconventional because the perspective changes to a top-down view, and the player must defeat the boss while transformed into a train, a cricket or a dancing fool. By killing enemies or destroying television receivers, VectorMan can find power-ups, including:
Multipliers - all health power-ups, scores, and 1-Ups are multiplied by two, three, five or ten, depending on the multiplier.
Health - depending on the power-up, it restores one health point, all of it, or increases the maximum number of health points the player has.
1-Up - an extra life.
Milestone - next time the player dies, the level will restart from here.
Extra time - adds two minutes to the timer.
Nucleus shield - generates a shield that protects the player from harm.
Additionally, destroyed TVs may reveal morph icons or powerful weapons that replace VectorMan's standard ball gun for a limited time, such as the rapid fire or the bolo gun (shoots a big energy ball that goes through multiple orbots). The morph icons transform the player character into a new shape, for example a drill (breaks through floors), a jet (flies), a fish (swims faster), and so on.
The game has three levels of difficulty, and it keeps track of the score the player has accumulated by gathering photons and destroying orbots. Depending on the difficulty, every time a set number of points is reached an extra life is awarded.
Description from MobyGames