One of the first shoot em up games with 4-way directional fire, Vanguard is set across varied levels (fourteen in the first mission) as you fly your ship towards the enemy base with the ultimate aim of destroying it. The stages are mapped out in a display located at the top right of the screen, and your stage position is denoted by a dot. Your ship can fire up, down, left or right, all mapped to individual fire buttons.
The first mission maps out as follows:
The first stage is a horizontally scrolling battle against enemy ships. You must shoot the ships while avoiding contact with the scenery. There is an energy pod at the start and if you fly into it you are rendered invincible. However, you lose your ability to fire but you can still destroy the ships by flying into them. The energy charge lasts for approximately 75% of the stage, but another is available located towards the bottom of the screen almost immediately the first charge expires.
The second stage is similar to the first but with different enemy ships to fight, and this time they have the ability to shoot back and move around the screen. Again there are energy charges available.
Stages three and four see you combating bouncing clouds which appear in front of and behind you set on a landscape scrolling in a diagonal up/right direction. Once you destroy several waves of these (stage three) you also encounter them appearing from above (stage four), sometimes directly above you.
Stage five pits you once again against enemy ships, armed with bullets and this time with the ability to move up and down. These are the hardest adversaries encountered thus far, and you should be continually firing ahead of you to attempt to pick them off as soon as they appear. These ships are the same as the ones previously encountered in stage two.
Stage six is similar to stage five, but once again with harder enemy ships to avoid or destroy. The ships are the same as in the first stage, but they can fire back at you and move.
Stage seven and eight see the return of clouds, this time moving in a diagonal down/right direction.
Stage nine sees you entering the enemy city. There are buildings to be destroyed, moving barriers to avoid, and energy barriers to be destroyed which cannot be passed through unless the upper or lower generator is destroyed. This is also the stage with the highest scoring potential, and you should aim to cause as much destruction as possible.
Stage ten and eleven sees yet more clouds, this time moving diagonally up and to the right. This is the final cloud stage on the first mission run.
Stage twelve switches the game into vertically scrolling for your approach to the enemy mothership. This stage sees snakes moving towards you, and if you shoot them and then immediately move into them, bonus points are awarded. While you are inside a snake you cannot be killed.
Stage thirteen sees arrows moving down the screen towards you which must be destroyed. This is the penultimate stage.
The final stage is when you encouter the mothership. Bullets will be fired at you from the left and right which must be avoided and to destroy the enemy mothership you must shoot cleanly through the gap between the two levels of moving barriers below the ship at the top of the screen. The longer you survive, the more points you score.
Once the enemy mothership has been destroyed the game starts over, but your ship is moving at a much faster speed, and is therefore much less manoeuverable. Also the layout of the stages will be different with less cloud stages and more straight levels versus enemy ships to overcome.
Ship type A (Mission 1: Stages 1 and 6): 70 points.
Ship type B (Mission 1: Stages 2 and 5): 50 points.
Blue cloud: (Mission 1: Stages 3,4,10 and 11): 80 points.
Purple cloud: (Mission 1: Stages 7 and 8): 120 points.
City Buildings: 100, 200 or 400 points.
Energy Barrier: 800 points.
Snake: 100 points.
Snake bonus: 1,090 points.
Arrow: 100 points.
Mothership: 1,000 points, increases the longer you survive.
Starting lives can be set to 3, 4 or 5 (default is 3).
Make good use of the energy charges available on the first few stages. Remember you are indestructible when charged with energy, and can even move through the scenery.
On the clouds stages, note that clouds can pass through the front or rear 25% of your ship. Position yourself so you cannot be hit and remember to quickly pick off the isolated clouds which periodically appear directly above or below you.
You don't need to use the energy charges on city stages, as you can destroy more with bullets.
To kill the mothership quickly on Mission One for 1,000 points, simply fire rapidly as soon as you enter the screen. Quickly move up to avoid the first bullet fired at you.
Energy charges are best collected when entering stages where enemy ships will be firing at you.