VVVVVV

Platformers have a long and honored tradition in game design. From Super Mario Brothers to Braid, 2D platformers represent the full gamut of attitudes and ideas about game design. In the indie space the genre seems to be the favorite place for experimentation, with countless entries uploaded to major Flash portals every day. Despite the crowded field, designers like Terry Cavanagh, creator of Don't Look Back, Judith and Pathways, can still make a genre that's a quarter of a century old feel fresh and innovative.

VVVVVV is his latest game, with an ever-smiling protagonist stuck aboard a space station. The game tweaks one of the basic mechanics of the genre: Instead of jumping, your character reverses his own gravity while standing on a platform. The level design exploits this well by gradually introducing the mechanics over the two levels in the demo. Fairly soon you're playing with several brand-new mechanics as if you've been using them since you were jumping on Goombas.

The story begins as your character, the captain, finds himself stuck in an unfamiliar space station. Soon he finds that his other crew members are scattered all over the odd installation, and sets out to rescue them. The game also features a Super Metroid-like overworld with an automap that keeps track of communications with other crew members. Soon exploration and teleportation turn the automap into a necessity instead of just a helpful accessory.

While the graphics are very basic, 8-bit Atari fare, they still manage to convey the world well. The chiptune soundtrack from Souleye is catchy and energizing, yet remains true to the old-school Atari graphics of the game.

Cavanagh explains at the conclusion of the demo that VVVVVV is about exploring a single game mechanic and not restraining the choices of the player. Despite some of the similarities to Super Metroid there are no keys or locked doors to stop you from entering an area. The only thing stopping you is the difficulty of each room. Do you go after the shiny trinket, the blue crew member or the pink one? There's nothing stopping you either way.

Why You Should Check This Out: VVVVVV is an innovative, challenging, well done 2D platformer. Terry Cavanagh plays with the basic mechanics of the genre and comes back with a game that's fun as hell and frustratingly challenging. The ability to flip gravity combines with some brilliant level design and creates one of the most enjoyable platformers I have played in a long time.

[size=20]Play Demo Now[/size]

[size=16](Windows) (Mac)[/size]

Comments

There is a Linux version in the works but it couldn't be released with the other two versions because of some technical difficulties

Gah, so hard! I like it though, and I think it's a great use of 8-bit graphics. I don't like it when they use 8-bit graphics to make it "artsy" but it looks like here they just wanted to make a game and couldn't (or didn't) get better art. The gameplay is really solid and that's what matters.

The game is crazy hard. When playing it earlier in the week I figured out the secret to the game: when in doubt, go fast, not slow.

I think the music is amazing. I really feel like I'm playing a mod for Henry's House.

I found myself completely unable to stop constantly repeating "I flip you. I flip ya for real!" while playing this. I think I'm mentally ill.

LobsterMobster wrote:

Gah, so hard! I like it though, and I think it's a great use of 8-bit graphics. I don't like it when they use 8-bit graphics to make it "artsy" but it looks like here they just wanted to make a game and couldn't (or didn't) get better art. The gameplay is really solid and that's what matters.

One thing that makes me respect the hell out of Terry Cavanagh is that now matter how far he pushes the artsy envelope his gameplay is still rock solid. More Jonathan Blow than Jason Rohrer.

I think I'm going to boycott Fringe Busters until you guys do The Void. Like seriously!

I tried the flash demo and it played like a typical flash game. If you connect on only part of a platform it makes you slide through it. Also the arrow keys and single speed movement allow for limited precision control. Kind of frustrating. How does the full game compare to the demo?

The .exe demo is a flash runtime, so I assume the same.

Is the full thing worth $15/£9? The demo leaves me wanting more, but I can think of other things to buy first for that amount of cash.

This is a great little title and I suggest trying out the standalone demo to see if it's your thing. Getting all of the twenty trinkets can drive you insane though.

Giant Bomb have posted a Quick Look that may help you decide if it looks fun or not without buying it.

I found the controls in this to be a bit too floaty. A lot of the puzzles require precision, but I don't feel like the controls really support that kind of precisions without a lot of trial and error. The biggest culprit is, as EvilDead said, that the character has a single movement speed. In most platformers, your character moves a little more slowly when you first press the button than when you've held it down for a bit. This allows for making small adjustments on a platform. This game doesn't seem to have anything like that, so a quick tap on the movement key to put me in a better position usually just results in a flying leap off a ledge.

Dysplastic wrote:

I think I'm going to boycott Fringe Busters until you guys do The Void. Like seriously!

Your opinion has been noted.

The web version isn't nearly as responsive as the downloable .exe so don't judge the game on based on it. Also, the demo is comparatively easy

wordsmythe wrote:
Dysplastic wrote:

I think I'm going to boycott Fringe Busters until you guys do The Void. Like seriously!

Your opinion has been noted.

To be fair, this is largely because I'm a scaredy cat when it comes to horror games.

Dysplastic wrote:

I think I'm going to boycott Fringe Busters until you guys do The Void. Like seriously!

Is that that terrible game no one likes?

FYI - Interview with Terry Cavanagh on Gamasutra

Sorry if this is a repeat - shoving this up quickly whilst at work...

Hey guys! So in another shameless attempt to plug my podcast, we did an entire episode on VVVVVV this week. It's a relatively short show and I think it's really funny. It is supposed to be a comedy show, and we use different games as the basis.

If you don't want to listen, then I'll just tell you know that this game is amazing and the soundtrack rocks!

Pyro, I'm really glad to hear your all of your stories too.

Booyah!

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/UswbE.png)

I'm proud of that one.

Phishposer wrote:

Pyro, I'm really glad to hear your all of your stories too.

I don't understand but ... you're welcome?