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 VVVVVV

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PostSubject: VVVVVV   Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:39 pm

The last game of the "big three" indie performers that I passed up when they were initially released, VVVVVV is also probably the hardest one for me to articulate how I felt about it. So let's start with the good.

VVVVVV is a testament to game design. there are only 3 gameplay mechanics in the entire 2+ hour game. You can walk left, you can walk right, and you can flip. Flipping takes the place of jumping in this game. When you flip, your gravity shifts and you fall upward or downward until you hit a surface, and you can flip again until you hit another surface. It's a simple mechanic that is explored in it's every facet through the game. In a day and age where every game has to be every other game, it's refreshing to see this back-to-basics approach.

The game also has a pretty forgiving checkpoint system, so dying (which you will do a lot) never causes you too loose a ton of progress. Most puzzle-rooms have a checkpoint at the beginning and end, mitigating the trial-and-error needed to complete the game.


Okay, now to the not so great:

The first thing that may put people off is the presentation. That screenshot above is basically all there is too it. It's very simplistic, which isn't inherently a bad thing, but there is a bit of dissonance in the presentation. The game looks like a Commodore 64 game, but doesn't sound like it at all.

Which brings me to the music. The music isn't bad, I just feel that it's a bit disingenuous. It's going for the chiptune sound of the NES, but it's clear that it's more midi than chiptune, which pushes it into electronica territory. Which again isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the C64 games that VVVVV was meant to look like weren't capable of this sound output, let alone midi.

I also have an issue with the musics passing. I feel like the game lingers on the more somber, uninteresting pieces like Predestined Fate far too long while masterpieces like Potential for Anything come and go all too quickly.

In fact, pacing is an issue for VVVVVV in general. The game starts by throwing you into the fire, but by the time the first level is complete, the game slows considerably. After the first level, you are presented with an overworld that you have to traverse with the aid of a Metroid-like map system in order to get to the next area. While this may make the game seem large an non-linear, the absence of power-ups makes the order you complete levels a non-issue. The only reason for this overworld to pad the games length and to justify the existence of trinkets, VVVVVV's collectibles that only seem to unlock different music form the game to play in the main ship. It gums up the works considerably, especially when you take into account the breakneck pace of the main levels.

The controls are also not nearly as tight as they need to be. Pixel perfect maneuvers are exponentially more difficult to preform when your character "skates" around the screen, not stopping or starting precisely when you hit the arrow keys. I believe this resulted in more deaths for me than the room designs.

But the biggest flaw to VVVVVV is it's difficulty. There are games that are fun because they are difficult, and then there are games like Demon's Souls that seem to punish the player for playing. VVVVVV is pushing into Demon's Souls territory. In the 2 and half hours that it took me to beat the game, I died 961 time. 61 of those times here on the same room. Sometimes you beat a game and feel accomplished, other times you never want to see that game again. VVVVVV is in the later category for me.


Recommending VVVVVV is tough for me to do. On the one hand, it is a good game in it's own right and it has a lot of redeeming qualities. It's also poses a challenge, so if you are into games that are hard for the sake of hard, then go for it.

Price is also an issue. This game was originally $15, and at that price, I absolutely couldn't in good conscious recommend anyone pay that much for this game. But it has since dropped to $5, which I still fill is a bit to much but not unreasonable.

But overall, it just doesn't stake up to Tower of Heaven and Cave Story, both of which are available to play for free. VVVVVV overstays it's welcome and overreaches it's challenge. Tower of Heaven and Cave Story do not.

If you are intruged by this game, then I recommend that you give GaintBomb's QuickLook a gander (also below) and try out the demo before you spend your money.


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Last edited by SoldierG65434-2 on Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: VVVVVV   Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:35 am

Sounds like you can sum this one up with a big ol' 'Eh'.
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PostSubject: Re: VVVVVV   Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:58 am

It's not so much an "eh" as an "aw."

What I liked, I really liked. I wholeheartedly endorse the design philosophy of exploring all the possibilities of a single gameplay mechanic rather than making a game that's a cover-based shooter, a plat former, and a have a multiplayer on top of that and none of them feel fully realized.

VVVVVV's biggest failing, I feel, is that it doesn't take it's cues from Tower of Heaven and move from puzzle-room to puzzle room. The beginning of the game moves at a breakneck pace and is very promising, but the overworld kills it. But of course, without the overworld, they couldn't rightfully charge for it.

If they had left out the overworld and just done a string of puzzle-rooms, VVVVVV would be the greatest flash game ever. Unfortunately, they stuck in a very, very boring overworld to pad the length, and that's what killed VVVVVV.

I wanted to like this game, but it wouldn't let me.

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