Review by Lord-Spencer

Reviewed: 04/29/13

Its pronounced Vee.

I did not know what to expect when I first started playing VVVVVV. Obviously, I was playing a retro inspired game, and it was obviously going to be some kind of platforming experience. Once the music started, and I realized I couldn’t jump, I immediately knew VVVVVV was going to be something else. 13 hours of playing later, I realized that I probably spent the best five dollars all year.

To put in one word, VVVVVV is viciously fun.

Gameplay:

In VVVVVV, you can’t jump. Instead, you flip gravity. And while you are flipping, you can move right and left. What this does is that it forces you to not only focus on the floor, but on the whole room, since you will be floating in the middle most of the time while you are changing gravity. With only this mechanic in the arsenal of the player, VVVVVV becomes a platformer of unique design. Yet, the game does not hide behind this “gimmick” but actively evolve its use many times over.

The main campaign is divided into five “dungeons” separated by an overworld you can freely traverse. Some likened this to metroidvanias, but I personally feel it is more like the original Zelda. Walking around the universe you will hardly get lost, as there is a handy map in the 3DS bottom screen, I wish there was an option to turn it off however for those who want a more immersive experience. The catch is that each dungeon explores a completely different concept than the last. No two dungeons feel the same, however each does its utmost to fling you into spikes, non sentinial enemies, or both at the same time.

Death by spikes is a natural fact in VVVVVV. Death will come by the hundreds, and maybe even by the thousands. This is a retro title in that regard, but it has the decency of being hard by design, not by tediousness. Checkpoints are very plenty, and each challenge is surmountable with enough practice and/or some luck. You might die twenty times in one room, but it wouldn’t burn much of your time since you will repeat in the same room. Ultimately, the game for most people will be a matter of trial and error, but this is never tedious due to the excellent checkpoint system.

That is for most people. However, for some people, those who we know exist but we seldom have proof off outside of YouTube, this game provides a well calculated challenge. Trying to speed run the game or finish it without deaths is entirely possible in the main game (highly improbably though). Each screen is nearly a stand-alone challenge and can be dissected and solved before even attempting it. It is only left for twitch muscle to work as they are trained to.

What strikes most about the gameplay is two things: first, how the simple concept is expanded on with so much variety that each dungeon and indeed each room is a fresh screen, Second, how the levels are so well designed, which is very much appreciated when playing the player levels of which some are not as polished.

What also is very admirable is how the mechanic is very much malleable, that many player levels do not play like the main campaign. Providing unique levels for the player to explore, with unique gameplay elements. Ranging from levels that expand upon the main campaign, to levels inspired by the movie Aliens.

Overall, this is one solid 10/10.

Style (graphics, art, sound, and atmosphere):

There is only so much you can do with retro graphics. You only have so many colors and pixels to work with. It is games like these that continue to prove how much limited is David Cage’s “polygons = emotions” line of thought is. With the limited tools at his disposal, Terry Cavengeh constructed a vibrant world full with personality.

With limited graphics, and limited presentation tools, it is up to the player to construct a story. And the game lends just enough information for the player to do so within some constraints. It does so by usually hilarious Terminal logs and limited crew interaction. What mostly adds to the story is however the screen titles. Each room has its own title in the bottom of the screen, and these names range from obscure references to the game’s universe, to sadistic taunts in especially hard rooms. These titles are a blast to read, and add a whole lot to the game. It is also amusing to see how each of the player levels uniquely titled their levels.

Yet, the true star of the game, and perhaps the driving force behind the player all through the campaign, is the soundtrack. The chip-tune retro soundtrack is simply sublime, and I don’t throw that adjective around. Each track is worth listening to several times over, and due to the number of deaths the average player will experience, that would be a matter of course. It is a testament to the soundtracks strength that not once did I feel bored or compelled to mute the game.

In summery, the game nails everything that makes a retro style compelling and more. It ends up rising abovee the increasing tiredness of retro style and being its own style. One that is cool in everyway.

10/10.

Miscellaneous: (extras, notes, stuff)

Outside of the main campaign, there are about 18 player created campaigns ranging from short to long, and from manageable to downright sadistic. I complain about the difficulty some of the player levels have because I feel the difficulty is originating from a lack of polish rather than a lack of player skill. The best player levels are those that are unlike the main game, with one having no checkpoints and yet is very balanced being one of the highlights. The main campaign itself can be played again in flip mode, which flips the whole universe. There are a number of in game trophies and time trials which can be tackled if you feel particularly god-like. Of course, the sublime music is shared through all the levels but some tracks are used more than others.

For people who find the game too hard, they can just enjoy walking around the campaigns in invincible mode and just enjoy the music. That is unfortunately the only way you can listen to the tracks, as there is no in game studio to listen to any of them. The other option players can use to ease the game is slowing down the frames, which is just sloppy and frustrating. Unless you start with it from the start, it will only mess up the rhythm you built up and you would better off practicing more or just going in invincible mode.


9/10

BOTTOM LINE:

This is one of the best eshop titles in the 3DS, and is a must have for any gaming fan for the small price of entry. The main campaign can be finished in 3-4 hours only, but the wealth of content available can easily push the game for more time.

Again, I cannot overstate how much enjoyment I got from such little price, and I recommend this game wholeheartedly to anyone who owns a 3DS.

10/10


Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: VVVVVV (US, 12/29/11)

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