VVVVVV was my first foray into Terry Cavanagh’s (Creator of Super Hexagon) games, which in my opinion is a fantastic jumping point into the madness and simplicity he’s become famous for. Although this was made 3 years ago, I still think it’s a fantastic example of how graphics aren’t what makes a game, and how the mechanics of a game are what keeps it interesting.
VVVVVV looks like a classic 8bit retro game, it’s not much to look at, but it gets the job done. It conveys a captain on his ship who suddenly has inter-dimensional problems and loses all of his crew. Thus begins an epic adventure to find his shipmates, and bring them back. (A note to those who may not know, VVVVVV is named after the names of the 6 crew members: Captain Viridian, Doctor Violet, Doctor Victoria, Officer Vermillion, Professor Vitellary and Chief Verdigris.)
Controls are very simple, and mechanics are quick to grasp. Your character and run left and right, and can flip gravity through pressing the space bar. This propels your captain to the ceiling and vice versa. It is through this gravity flipping mechanic that you are met with challenges which require very specific and tight controls to navigate the obstacle course of objects and spikes which kill you in one hit.
Although the game mechanics are simple, it doesn’t stop the game from being hard. VVVVVV takes from the Super meat boy school of thought, and gives you a very tried and tested control system, to then challenge you to the point of ripping out your hair. It’s hard in places, but you know it’s not bullshit on the games part, it was your own fault for pressing right too soon, or not jumping when you was meant to. You make the mistakes here, so it’s only yourself you can be annoyed at.
The difficulty curve is perfect for a game of this size and scope, and allows you to progress at a steady rate through the 6 different dungeons hiding each crew member. You may come across hitches that keep you stuck for ages, but overcoming them makes you better as a player, and teaches you new mechanics about VVVVVV.
Game length wise, the game is modest in providing about 2 hours worth of entertainment, which can be extended with multiple playthroughs and getting all of the collectibles. This is perfect in length, and I feel any longer would have just resulted in a game which outstays its welcome. Some may find a lot of value in this amount of time (especially when it was provided in quite a few humble bundles) where as others (like myself) may be calling out for more.
- Addictive gameplay
- Fantastic Soundtrack
- May not be to everyones taste with unique graphics
Overall I feel VVVVVV is a must play for anyone looking into game design and game philosophy. It shows that games don’t have to have fantastic graphics in order to be fun, whilst also showing that a lot can be done with a few sets of simple rules. Here’s to hoping that with Terry’s latest success from Super Hexagon, he sets out to make another VVVVVV.