Vector Racer is a turn-based racing game, which simulates a car race on a squared sheet of paper. You move from one grid point to another and have to try to get to the finish in the least amount of turns.
Each turn you can speed up (accelerate), slow down (decelerate) or maintain the same speed. Acceleration and deceleration is shown in the image below. When you accelerate from the starting point (the gray cross on the left), you start by moving 1 square. The next turn you move 2 squares, then 3 squares, and so on. So when accelerating you increase the number of squares by 1 each turn.
When decelerating you do the opposite, you decrease the number of squares by 1 each turn. So when you move 5 squares, the next turn you move 4 squares, then 3, and so on, until you come to a stop. You can also choose to maintain the same speed by moving the same number of squares as on the previous turn.
The speed control does not only apply to left and right but also to up and down. This allows you to negotiate curves and race around the track. Each turn you can select from nine points to move to (one to maintain your speed, four to accelerate up, down, left, right, and another four to accelerate up-left, up-right, down-left, down-right). The nine points are indicated by 9 circles, as shown in the image below.
The image below shows the different track surfaces and three players racing. To finish the race you first have to pass every checkpoint in the correct order. The checkpoints are indicated by colorful areas (green, red, purple, orange); the finish is black. The track also has curbs, gravel traps and walls. When your current position is on a curb or in the gravel, you'll have limited selection options. On a curb you can only maintain your speed and when in the gravel you can only select points that slow you down to a crawl. Small gray circles indicate the points that can not be selected (see the red and purple player in the image). If you hit the wall, you'll crash. Keep in mind that you have to avoid the wall for the entire length of a move.