If Nintendo didn’t decide to start doing their Game of the Weekend sales, I probably wouldn’t be writing this review. I did play a VVVVVV demo before buying the game on the eShop, but I wasn’t impressed. I have read a ton of good things about the game, so when it went on sale for $5 I just had to give it another chance. To my surprise, after playing through the first area a second time, I began to like VVVVVV.
VVVVVV is a retro styled game that is greatly influenced by the Commodore 64. You play as Captain Viridian who is searching for his missing crewmates that mysteriously vanished after an odd occurrence. He quickly learns that they have become lost in an alternate dimension and it’s up to him to rescue them. More pieces of the event are put together as you rescue crewmates. Upon saving a member of your crew, they are teleported back to the ship and the rescue effort continues. At its core, VVVVVV tells a simple story, but simple is something this game does well.
VVVVVV focuses on flipping gravity as its core mechanic; no jumping whatsoever in this game. Levels are brilliantly designed to support this mechanic by forcing you to use it to progress through the environment. Hitting any button on the Nintendo 3DS will flip gravity, and moving is done with the Slide Pad/D-Pad. Unlike normal platformers, you must flip gravity and move accordingly to avoid spikes and similar traps; this is as opposed to simply jumping over them. It can be extremely challenging to overcome these obstacles which can essentially be thought of as puzzles. You will likely die a lot throughout your time with VVVVVV, but luckily checkpoints are plentiful which ultimately lowers frustration.
You will be overcoming a number of different obstacles that will have you walking over the ceiling, bouncing from strings, intelligently avoiding enemies and traps, as well as mastering a gravity reversing string. Throw in amazing level design and you have an extremely fun game. No other gravity focused game to date does it as well as VVVVVV. I strongly believe this because the game is designed with the core concept at the forefront.
Besides solid gameplay, VVVVVV has a lot of replay value. There are a number of terminals scattered around that can be accessed by pressing X. These terminals display personal logs that share details from the crew’s experience on this adventure. There are also 20 trinkets hidden around the game with some being easy, and others being highly difficult to collect. Besides both of these aspects there is a ton of other content which includes a No Death Mode, a Flip Mode, Time Trials and player created levels. These player created levels are just as brilliant and challenging as the main game. Overall, there is a lot of replay value that will keep you playing for hours.
As mentioned briefly above, VVVVVV is heavily inspired by the Commodore 64, and more specifically the Commodore Datasette. VVVVVV is graphically comparable to Commodore 64 games, especially in its simplistic design. While simple, this approach works in VVVVVV’s favour; it sticks to a design and executes with perfection. The use of colors is astounding and really helps VVVVVV create its own identity by using them sparingly. Each room will consist of one main color that changes each time you enter another room. Couple with a feeling isolation, this design helps create an atmosphere that is comparable to games from the Metroid series. In addition, VVVVVV also benefits from the 3D effect as well. Like many 2D games on the 3DS, VVVVVV’s layers help give it an exciting sense of depth.
VVVVVV doesn’t only draw influence from retro games for its graphical style, but also in its soundtrack. Labeled PPPPPP, VVVVVV’s soundtrack is about as glorious as retro chiptunes get. Each track is infectious and really encourages you to continue moving forward through the rough spots. Every track has this quality and adds another layer of perfection to VVVVVV.
VVVVVV surprised me with its style and solid gameplay. I went in with negative feelings about the game, but emerged with nothing but positivity. If there were a game to challenge Mutant Mudds as the best offering on the Nintendo eShop, VVVVVV would be that game. Everything inside this package is executed flawlessly and is a great buy no matter the price. A definite download if you enjoy challenging, retro flavoured games.