The first time we heard of VVVVVV, we thought it was some cryptic message that we were supposed to decipher after playing through the game, or some default tag that would eventually be replaced with a new name kind of like Nintendo’s Dolphin for the Gamecube. Unfortunately neither of those assumptions were correct but we were certainly surprised to find that VVVVVV is an extremely fun retro styled puzzle game, where your reactions are put to the test and really trains your brain to stay focused at all times. Many of us fall into the procrastination state when trying to get a lot of work done and then end up wondering what happened during that entire time. Playing VVVVVV honestly helped our minds to stay in absolute focus and managed to successfully clear challenging puzzles, while overcoming what seemed to be impossible obstacles. Now, we’re not trying to advertise that VVVVVV will help you to cope with ADHD or anything, but one thing’s certain, and it’s that VVVVVV is a game that’s incredibly fun once you dive a little deeper.
What to Expect
Indie titles don’t tend to focus on the gleam and glamour that most AAA titles focus on, and instead, rely heavily on the experience it provides the player. We love the latter approach since that’s generally why we play games in the first place, to have fun not watch some 10 minute long cutscene that oftentimes leads nowhere. Now, we’re not saying cutscenes are bad the point we’re trying to make here is that, VVVVVV doesn’t beat around the bush and focuses primarily on creating a robust experience using simple mechanics to stimulate your brain. It’s fast paced, colorful and the retro style music just adds that touch of nostalgia to make everything feel more complete. Everything about VVVVVV is really cool from its really crazy styled gravity switching gameplay to its 60fps fluidity as you warp from stage to stage, in hopes to rescue all of your crew members from danger.
You star as Captain Viridian, the brave commander of a spaceship who finds himself in disarray when all of a sudden his crew members get teleported to mysterious parts of an unknown planet. With very little information to determine the cause and effect of what’s happening, you now must embark on a journey to save your crew members from danger using only gravity and teleporters to safely bring everyone back onto his spaceship. None of this is easy, however, because the moment you’re thrown into the fray each level design is genuinely crafted to drive you mad. We don’t really mean it will drive you mad but it certainly will push you to your limits because things can get out of hand at times. Since everything revolves around the use of gravity and knowing just when to fall up or fall down, VVVVVV really encourages you to play with patience and create this sort of repetitive approach in order to successfully complete missions. This is the sort of game you’d probably watch someone complete on a speedrun because it comes with all the bells and whistles that define that genre very succinctly. It’s wicked fast, requires exceptional focus and every little detail you come across will matter in the long run. There’s no jumping in this game it’s all gravity here.
What this means is that as you warp your way through the game, you’ll come across a lot of areas that will make you scratch your head in bewilderment. Then suddenly you get this eureka moment and eventually you try your hand overcoming the obstacle ahead. It’s not easy by any means as there were times we had to repeat certain maneuvers several times just so our muscle memory would react accordingly, but that’s exactly what makes playing VVVVVV a thrill. The vibrant colors that bring us back to those Commodore 64 days of playing Math Blaster are all there, and the wicked soundtrack just keeps you coming back for more. It’s a splendid combination of old school meets new school that creates a uniquely rewarding experience should you not get angry and want to throw your Switch at the wall.
VVVVVV can get frustrating at times, not because of the game mechanics but more at yourself for making clumsy errors. It can get really out of hand when your hands just don’t want to listen to your brain and you end up making the same mistakes over and over, but once you tell the monkey to quiet down in your head the game becomes a blast again. It’s really all about precision and a mastery of your nerves because simple things like moving too quickly over a gap can cost you, since you also have to manipulate gravity to ensure the spikes don’t kill you. You have to take in everything around you and build a solid game plan before committing because any faint sign of impatience and it’s lights out. Fortunately you don’t have lives to consider and can start over as many times as your heart can allow, but it’s a one hit one kill type of scenario so any careless movement just puts you back at the checkpoint. Luckily, there are a plethora of checkpoints dispersed all throughout the game meaning that you’ll never have to go back to redo areas you’ve already dealt with.
We don’t want to make it sound like VVVVVV is some crazy difficult game that only the upper echelon of puzzle aficionado’s can complete, because it isn’t. It’s just a game that will require a lot of your attention and once you’re able to stay within that zone of focus it’s an extremely gratifying feeling. Collecting trinkets and searching for teleporters is a thrilling ordeal as you’re never too sure what to expect next, and every challenge is just another call out to step up your game to do better. Hours passed by as we continuously hopped over obstacles, laughed at the simple humor in dialogue, and enjoyed the little references thrown around here and there to pay homage to an era many of us old souls remember. It’s certainly not a game for everyone but we recommend anyone to pick it up and play because damn, it’s really addicting once the ball gets rolling.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
The only gripe that we have with VVVVVV is sometimes the character we were controlling felt like it was sliding on a banana peel at times, and what me mean by that is when moving from platform to platform, the character would glide a little. We don’t know if that was just our input error from holding forward on the stick too long but it definitely killed us several times, and we took note of it. Other than that, there were no other noticeable flaws that really stood out other than the game being a bit short for our liking. It’s also a pretty dated game, with the original coming out back in 2010 on PC, so it’s not really a fresh title if you will. Be that as it may its age has certainly worked out well in this situation and creates an orgasmic feeling once you’re able to clear stages with enough practice (and frustration of course). Its minimalistic approach gives it very quick loading times on the Switch and takes up very little on the hard drive which is a positive thing, since we all know how small the Switch hard drive is. There’s also the option for multiplayer so if you want to gather some friends to play with then this is surely a treat for all!
Simple yet effective in design.
Awesome retro soundtrack that’s satisfying to our ears.
Incredibly challenging and rewarding gameplay.
Frequent checkpoints means less headaches and more time to readjust techniques.
Multiplayer fun for the Switch!
A little short for our liking.
The game is a port from 2010 so it’s a little on the old side.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Just because a game is old doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, as in the case of VVVVVV. We still don’t know the reason why the team decided to name it that, but whatever the case is it seems to work very well. We had a total blast playing VVVVVV and we recommend this to anyone looking for a game that provides a great soundtrack and a steep learning curve, which will reward you greatly if you manage to stay patient and focused. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest gaming news, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitch to catch us playing all of the games we review live!
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!