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VVVVVV Review

Review; Jan. 10, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Jenner David Cauton
See if you can guess why it's called that

No, my keyboard isn't stuck; that's just the name of the game. There's a reason it's called that, which is the same reason the game's soundtrack has a similar title as well. Regardless, VVVVVV's game play has nothing to do with stuttering, but considering the game's difficulty, you wouldn't be too far from going "F-F-F-uu..." anyway.

VVVVVV is about an interstellar crew who seem to share similar goals not unlike the crew of Star Trek. While exploring space, the crew's ship ends up malfunctioning and results in the crew evacuating through the ship's teleporter. Unfortunately, the evacuation doesn't go exactly as planned and ends up with everyone teleported to random locations in a strange dimension. So it's up to you, as captain Viridian, to find the rest of his/her (seriously, can you tell?) crew: Verdigris, Vermillion, Victoria, Violet, and Vitellary. (Try and say that three times fast.)

VVVVVV Screenshots
Easily scared and non-adventurous, yet Victoria ironically finds solace being a bat. Click the image to view screenshots.

VVVVVV is a 2-D platformer with an interesting twist: You can't jump. Only flip. Doing so reverses gravity for Viridian and enables him/her to walk on the ceiling, and consequently makes you fall upward as if you was falling down a pit. The player can do this anytime, as long as the character is touching ground. Walking and flipping are the only two actions, but the game uses this game mechanic to its fullest. Remember Gravity Man's stage in Mega Man 5? Yeah, this whole game is like that, minus the, well, violence. Maybe Viridian's a pacifist.

The game's graphics resemble a Commodore 64, or something along that era. The game's soundtrack also resembles this, and it has some of the best damn chiptunes you will ever hear. Seriously, it's that good. You can buy the game's soundtrack, PPPPPP, for $4 at http://souleye.madtracker.net/ as well as listen to some other freeware songs.

The game's world is similar to the old Metroid games, in which the game is actually one giant network of sub-levels. The only difference is the player doesn't need to collect any particular items to get to other areas, requiring only your own skill. There are collectables, but they're optional. Throughout the game's world, you'll also encounter computer terminals, all which reveal more information of the strange dimension you're in.

Different areas of the game employ their own level design, such as tripwires that bounce you around, or rooms where walking off one side of the screen will put you at the opposite end of the same room. When traversing these areas, the game slowly introduces these themes, but just when you think you've got the new level mechanic mastered, the game will suddenly throw in obstacles and twists, and this is where the game's difficulty starts to show. (Yes, it's one of those games.) 

When you die, you'll re-spawn at the last checkpoint you touched, which thankfully, are plentiful. You're going to die a lot in this game, quite rapidly, but it only takes you a mere second to get back up and running, and the proximity of the checkpoints makes retrying the same rooms over and over again not as frustrating as it sounds.


Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will *ouch!*

Most of the game's deaths occur from touching traps, but some rooms have enemies as well. VVVVVV redefines the meaning of "hurtful words," and you'll always be curious to find out what the next bizarre enemy will be.

Each room (except the open space area in between sub worlds) is also captioned with a short one-liner, often a funny phrase or a title. The captions either have something to do with the room or follow suit with other rooms -- but sometimes it feels like the developers are talking to you. In a strange sense, it's a bit like a mini-game trying to figure out what the captions relate to.

There is also a special room in the game that, has ... something in it. It's is either a hidden Easter egg, (a rather psychedelic, really creepy one) or some deep, hidden symbolism the developers seem reluctant to reveal. And, no, I don't know what it is either. I won't spoil what it is, but trust me, you'll know when you find it.

There's trinkets you can collect, which unlock songs for you to listen to at the jukebox on the ship. The further you progress in the game, you'll also unlock time trials which serve as different game modes. This is a good thing because the game is very short. You'll probably finish it with a total playtime between 1 to 2 hours. (However, it does allow you to continue to explore the game's world after the credits roll.) Finishing the game unlocks an additional game mode which turns the entire game upside down, providing an almost new world to explore.

VVVVVV is a sweet and short game, but at $5 on Steam, you can't ask for a better price. The game might push you to your very limits, but with awesome level design and soundtrack, you can't go vong. I mean, wrong.

Presentation - 5

Nothing special here, really -- it's retro.

Story - 7

Interesting characters, but a shallow ending.

Graphics - 7

This is as retro as you can get.

Sound - 10

Pure 8-bit bliss.

Game play - 9

The concepts of up and down have never been so entertaining.

Current Stability - 10

No bugs here.

Lasting Appeal - 6

A few extra game modes, plus a hidden bonus for finding all the trinkets. Its fun while it lasts, but there's no real reason to play it again beyond that

Comments

Review Score
7.7

Everyone

Titles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.

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