VVVVVV – Review

A retro audio-visual package designed to bring to mind the heyday of the 8-bit era.

It’s been a long time coming, but nearly months after it was released on the US eShop, Tim Cavanagh’s VVVVVV has finally made its way to the UK.

A shining light of the indie brigade, this much vaunted puzzling platformer is an excellent addition to the growing roster of titles available to download on Nintendo’s 3D handheld.

VVVVVV offers up a unique blend of frustration and success, all wrapped up in a retro audio-visual package designed to bring to mind the heyday of the 8-bit micro computer. C64 and Spectrum fans will get a jolt of nostalgia as the game loads to a soundtrack of screeches and a flash of multicoloured stripes.

Behind the late eighties aesthetic lies the story of Captain Viridian and his crew. Thrown from their spaceship by some sort of dimensional fudgery, it’s your job to lead Viridian through the dangerous confines of the ship, collecting the various members of the team and trying to figure out what’s gone wrong in the process.

The game is a platformer with a twist. Rather than jumping, you tap a face button to invert the gravity, sending Viridian falling upwards to what was once the ceiling. Traversing through the trap filled ship is a matter of quick thinking, razor sharp reaction times and the ability to reassess your surroundings when you’re upside down.

Things start off reasonably sedately, with only a few spikes and the occasional bottomless pit blocking your path, but pretty soon the game starts throwing nightmarish concoctions of crumbling platforms, speeding projectiles, and bouncing ghosts at you.

Despite the toughness of its challenges, VVVVVV’s checkpoint system is a kindly one, and you rarely have to travel back too far after failing to navigate a tricky screen. It’s a good job too, because you’re going to die… a lot. It’s testament to the excellent level design that, as frustrated as you’ll get, you’ll still want top push on to see the next section the game has to offer.

The open nature of the game means you’ll spend a decent amount of time exploring the ship, which is represented in map form on the bottom screen. There’s something cathartic about watching the blank spaces fill with neon lines as you delve deeper into the game, and hidden terminals egg you on to investigate every corner and corridor.

VVVVVV is a difficult game, but it’s one that’s worth persevering with. Its levels are a master class in game design, its trials and tribulations finely poised and expertly balanced. Your failures are rarely down to cruelty, but poor planning or a too hasty twist of gravity as the excitement gets the better of you.

In spite of its simple graphical style, VVVVVV exudes a charm that few big budget games could hope to match, with each of its colour swapped characters offering up a rounded and interesting personality. This is indie gaming at its very best, tough as old boots, full of brilliant ideas and imaginative gameplay, and it feels perfectly at home on the 3DS.
 

Score: 4/5

Format: 3DS
Price: £7.20
Developer: Nicalis
Publisher: Nicalis

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

    £30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

    Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Engineer - Linux, Windows, Cloud - Central London

    £40000 - £48000 per annum + 10% bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engin...

    Recruitment Genius: Configuration and Logistics Team Member

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has over 30 years ...

    Guru Careers: Creative Director / Head of Creative

    £65K - £75K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Creative Director...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence