Indie Games, where the heart and soul is!



By: Underwood Lynch

Whereas we here at VVGtv normally focus on XBLIG titles, we appreciate all forms of Indie gaming and like to branch out once in a while to the PC (or Mac, if you are that way inclined). There are some Indie games whose names are spoken in whispers, known for a particular reason and cherished for their originality and challenge. A lot of people are strict in their belief that the majority of video games released lately have been too easy, and that only games made twenty years ago are difficult. VVVVVV is screamed from the rooftops.

* DeveloperTerry Cavanagh
* Genre – Puzzle Platformer
* Release Date – 11/01/2010
* Try or Buy?Buy
* Price – $4.99 (Steam)
* Rating – 5/5

I. Story Line

VVVVVV (that’s six Vs) follows the adventures of Spaceship Captain Viridian at a particularly high point in his career when dimensional interference causes his ship to crash in the mysterious ‘Dimension VVVVVV’. The six of them use the ship’s teleporter to escape, but he is separated and forced to find his way back to the ship. Upon doing so it becomes apparent that his crewmates are stranded within the dimension, and it’s up to the captain to save them and find a way for the ship to escape.

II. Gameplay
VVVVVV works differently to the majority of other platformers in existence. Captain Viridian is somewhat content with keeping his feet on the ground – he cannot jump. Instead, you have the ability to reverse his own field of gravity and throw him onto the ceiling. This forms as the basis for most of the action, running and trying to plan exactly when to jump to avoid death at the hands of Dimension VVVVVV’s terrible traps and inhabitants. Once you have rescued the first member of your team, the game does not physically block you from choosing which member you wish to rescue next, as they can be saved in any order. Dimension VVVVVV is mapped out as you explore, allowing you to keep track of where you’ve been. Activating teleporters allows you to teleport back to the ship or any other previously activated teleporter, making navigating areas you’ve already explored a breeze.

Death is a minor setback in VVVVVV thanks to the copious amount of checkpoints dotted throughout the levels. Nearly every difficult manoeuvre begins with and is followed by a checkpoint that saves your game, but with good reason. VVVVVV is more than a modernised version of the classic platformers – it’s just as difficult. Certain points in the game force you to move quickly to avoid death, climbing towers and jumping back and forth between two springy walls to avoid obstacles. You can, and will die many times, no matter how good a gamer you are. Luckily the aforementioned copious amount of checkpoint and the save feature allows VVVVVV to separate ‘difficult’ and ‘frustrating’.

III. Visuals
The game dismisses “realistic” pseudo-3D visuals for a quirky 2D unique style, to great effect and often compared to the style of the Commodore 64. The classic visuals mean that it’s not graphically intensive, and should run on even the most lightweight of netbooks. The character sprites are simple but smoothly incorporated into the game, something you become grateful for when navigating small platforms and trying to avoid feeding Captain Viridian a mouthful of spikes. The colours shift and the background changes quite often, giving each screen an essence of life that’s both impressive and engrossing. You know exactly what is dangerous and what isn’t and Dimension VVVVVV will haunt your dreams at night with both its charm and oddity.

IV. Audio
VVVVVV’s soundtrack is composed by Magnus Pålsso, better known as Souleye. In keeping with the graphical style, the music style is known as “Chiptune” and the unforgettable soundtrack will get stuck in your head as you’ll be spending a lot of time with it. Luckily, the game boasts an impressive score of different tracks.

V. Critique

The Good

Simple controls. WASD to move, Space to reverse polarity and Enter to access the menu. You don’t need more than that.

Stylish graphics. The game is a work of art to anyone who can appreciate the Commodore-style visuals and sprites. Obstacles dart back and forth and everything runs smoothly.

Amazing soundtrack. The soundtrack “PPPPPP” is a delight to listen to and will keep you coming back to the game.

Replay value. There are a lot of challenges to unlock and complete, hidden trinkets to find and speed runs to conquer. There’s even an unlockable mode where you have to complete the game with one life – it’s unknown if anyone has ever completed it. Will you be the first?

Lots of content. The game is far from easy, and veterans of classic platforming games will be thrilled by the challenge on offer here.

The Bad

Difficulty. If you have no patience for dying then VVVVVV might not be for you. This game is difficult, and rightly so.

No, really. It’s difficult. There’s one trinket in particular which will require either the patience of a saint or a lobotomy to grab. Be warned, this is not a casual gaming experience.

VI. Wrap-Up

If you have fond memories of joystick-breakingly frustrating platformers past, then VVVVVV is certainly for you. The number of checkpoints and the amount of content will keep you occupied for hours, with minimum frustration from backtracking. If you look back on such games with the same glare reserved for dinner with the in-laws, you’re missing out and you should play it anyway.


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