Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but in the case of WizByte Games' Vector Assault, it isn't flattering. Heavily inspired by Geometry Wars - a game that in many ways helped usher in the era of downloadable console games - Vector Assault is not nearly as polished, addictive, or fun. While it's playable and functional on the most basic level, Vector Assault will feel derivative to anyone who's ever played any modern twin-stick shooter.
In Vector Assault, players control a ship on a closed arena and shoot anything and everything on screen. Enemies drop little dots that add to a score multiplier, which continues to grow until the player loses a life, at which point the multiplier resets to 0. There are three different ships to choose from, which shoot different speeds and bullets, but we felt that the game was mostly tuned to the default ship. The pattern-based enemies start out extremely slow and easy, but the screen will quickly fill up as players manoeuvre their way through bullet after bullet.
There are four different modes - Arcade, Time Trial, Weapon Trial and Survival - each with their own parameters and self-explanatory objectives; yet there's little to distinguish these modes in terms of gameplay feel. There are unlockable stages but none of them offer much variety, visual or otherwise. The poor presentation extends to the menus, as well, with counter-intuitive controls that make you think your selection has been reset because it highlights the first choice at all times.
Everything is presented in a vector-based visual style, again bringing Geometry Wars to mind, but lacks the polish to truly pull it off. Instead, WizByte attempts to add some visual flair, such as the ripple effect the background makes as the ship moves around the stage, but does so without panache or fluidity. The "Vectors" are similarly uninspired, looking like a proof of concept rather than an assured visual style; the music is also forgettable, if not offensive.
The game controls fairly inoffensively - it's hard to screw up twin stick controls - but the action plods along rather slowly and doesn't match the frantic nature expected of the genre. Vector Assault also has a simple achievement system, which extends the experience beyond the main goal of high scoring. But these things don't do enough to fix the game's main problem: we've seen all of this several times before, and often executed far better. It should also be noted that the game crashed on us several times over the course of our playthroughs; keep that in mind before thinking about purchasing.
Vector Assault is another eShop game that struggles to deliver the level of polish and quality perhaps expected on a Nintendo console. Coming off more like a prototype, we have trouble commending a game just because it works - it's hard to recommend Vector Assault when there are better options available elsewhere.