Posted: 18th January 2013 by Jeroen in Games
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210th played so far

Genre: Puzzle/Platform
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 2010
Developer: Terry Cavanagh

Regardless of your thoughts of the Humble Indie Bundles they have been an absolute godsend for this blog. By being generous (oh we love to give) we have been able to grab a lot of games off of the 1001 list for us to peruse later. So far we have only written up one of the games that we have purchased this way (the steam-punk influenced puzzler Cogs) and we have a number of them waiting in the wings for us to tangle with at a later date (such as Braid, Crayon Physics Deluxe and Machinarium).

Our Thoughts

In the future I believe that how a person pronounces the title of VVVVVV will be a part of pop-culture alongside the whole “glass half-full/half-empty” issue. Under your breath say the title out loud. Did you just call it 6 Vs? How about Vs? Or did you go though VVVVVV and then wonder if you only said five or even said one too many or realise partway through you should’ve gone for a different option? I am not even going to attempt to psychoanalyse this since I am not entirely qualified and I don’t want to be told about an aspect of my psychological profile that could make my life difficult.

Whether or not you have an opinion on how to pronounce the title you can not deny that it is a whole lot of fun. As is the case of many platform games the whole point is to go out and rescue people. In VVVVVV these people are the members of your crew (who, like yourself, have colour-based names that begin with the letter V.) In order to do this you need to navigate a large world (where much inspiration has been taken from Super Metroid) and undergo a series of puzzle-platform based rooms where obstacles include spikes, green ghosts, dollar signs, the word ‘TRUTH’ and little red men with spears.

So far, with the exception of the Super Metroid influence, this game does not sound too extraordinary. When you consider the quasi-8-bit graphics and cliched premise you do need to ask why this is on the list… oh yes… you can’t jump! The bane of games like The New Zealand Story where pixel-perfect jumps are not entirely the thing of the past but this take on the proceedings really does help VVVVVV stand out from the crowd, especially since it is used so well.

Instead of jumping you appear to engage some from of gravity boots whereby you attach yourself to whatever is acting as the ceiling. This is then coupled with decent gravity physics which in some levels is used incredibly well. In the level in question you lose some degree of control of this ability as whenever you touch a white line you immediately switch gravities. You need to use this to the ultimate advantage so you can properly slingshot your way out of danger (reminded me of Portal in a way). Most of the time, however, this makes for general use of the gravity physics to great effect – you can only switch while standing, first of all, and second you need to time your falls well – both in getting the direction right, as to make it unto certain falling platforms at the right time. Never mind the levels where spikes chase you and you need to hurry up the tower… but not too fast or the spikes at the top get you!

One issue I had with this game involved the rescuing of Verdigris. In a way the idea of having to lead a character to the exit, who will follow you unless you are walking on the ceiling) does lend itself to a number of interesting puzzles. However, there are some where difficulty and annoyance factor is ramped up in such a way because they really start exhibiting lemming-like behaviour. When will games creators realise… escort missions are NEVER fun!

Speaking of a last bit of fun – one of the nicer touches are in the level names. While they matter little to the proceedings, each screen in the game has its own name. While some contain hints, many are just fun comments on the proceedings, and even more are just general fun – (pop) culture references, jokes and taunts. They make for a nice touch when you get to see them.

Still, those rooms aside VVVVVV is a really fun game if you have a spare 2 hours where you want to complete a game. It is best played in one long slog so you don’t lose your way in the game’s giant map.

Final Thoughts

On the whole, the unique physics of this game make it a worthy game to try on its own, its indie roots clear in graphics and style. But beyond that, the game is tough enough to be a big challenge, but with frequent auto saves and a good curve, the game is fun enough that you can still spend a few hours beating it, in part following a “Just one more go” philosophy. Worth it to keep playing.

  1. […] one of those games that takes basic platforming and introduces a twist – something like VVVVVV, with the twist this time that you flip to different screens instead of reversing gravity. Perfect […]