January 11, 2010 1:41 AM | Michael Rose
There's this guy, and for my entire VVVVVV playthrough he's been grinning like a loon. No matter how difficult the puzzle, how awkward the timing or how precise a maneuver is needed, his face is constantly lit up, his smile infectious to a ridiculous degree.
I am, in fact, talking about myself, but then Veridian, VVVVVV's gravity-defying hero who clearly shares my sentiment, is arguably having just as much fun as myself, despite his blood not knowing where to rush to. Oh, and the constant multiple deaths.
While some may argue that 2009 didn't really deliver an outstanding indie title which showed the mainstream that independent developers mean business, this won't be a problem where 2010 is concerned - the year has merely begun, and already Terry Cavanagh has supplied the scene with the ammo it needs. VVVVVV is not simply immense fun - it's exciting, challenging, and downright glorious with a stunning soundtrack that will flip you on your head.
The lo-fi world of VVVVVV is indeed a wonderfully thought-out piece of art, with every nook and cranny of the overworld (which connects all the main levels together) there for a reason. And as for the levels themselves, don't expect any filler material, as every new screen throws a new challenge your way. It's one of the game's strongest points - the excitement which comes from wondering what obstacle awaits you in the next room.
Each level, too, has its own special dimension rules, from rapidly scrolling screens to wrap-around environments. The level design is astonishing at times, with clever ideas in spades, all revolving around that simple control scheme - move left, move right, and flip. Tests in timing, skill and a steady hand don every room, each more frustratingly brilliant than the last. Oh yes, this game can be and will be frustrating at times - there are certain rooms which may require an extra keyboard or two - but then as someone apparently once said, 'No Pain, No Game'. I think that was the saying...
Either way, the more difficult sections never even get close to taking away from the overall fun factor, especially since our dear Veridian's response to getting spiked is to let free a pixelated scream, plonk himself at the latest checkpoint and continue to beam that prevalent smile of his.
You'll probably be tapping along to the insanely fantastic soundtrack too much to care about something as petty as dying for the umpteenth time, anyway. SoulEye has provided Terry with the ultimate chiptune collection of tracks (the PPPPPP album is available via SoulEye's site) that compliment his game so beautifully, it's impossible to imagine dying over and over again to any other sound. My brain tells me his tunes are magical, and I think it's right for once.
For your dollar (or 15 of them to be exact, although that doesn't count the additional keyboards), you're experiencing an incredible journey which last around 2 hours, followed by another couple of hours to collect all 20 of those godforsaken trinkets that personally make me want to PUNCH THINGS. Then there are time trials, special game-altering modes, and a mini-game or two. Do yourself a favour and pick up a copy. You'll discover what it's like to both hate and love a game at the same time.
A demo for the game is available to play over at Kongregate.