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Review – VVVVVV (PC)

I’m not real sure what to call this game.  VeeVeeVeeVeeVeeVee just doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.  Given the gravity based gimmick I’d say it’s more likely the name is Up Down Up Down.  Or it’s more likely a graphical representation of the game’s gimmick in a symbol form, sort of like Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.  The name may also be symbolic of the numerous instant death spikes floating around the game.  It’s multifaceted and deep…. or whatever….

Speaking of the game’s gimmick, the main thing is the quirky control method.  You only move left or right and pressing the “action” button or up or down makes the character flip up to the ceiling or down to the floor.  You use this control scheme to navigate through spike filled puzzles.  Occasionally there’s some sort of enemy, often it’ll be an ASCII style character or a word.  A lot of the game is all about timing and reflex.

There is a secondary gimmick of sorts.  The graphical design is excessively simplistic.  The load screen mimics the look of the old Commodore 64 blue screen and the graphics are intended to mimic this style of retro gaming.  It’s not quite all ASCII like say, Nethack or Dwarf Fortress but it’s pretty close.

This only serves to add to the game’s charm though, at least if you’re a Retro junkie like I am.  there also a simplistic semi retro style plot.  There’s not deep explanation, just occasionally some mostly nonsensical text and the basic premise of rescuing your 5 lost crew members.

It’s an interesting game, though it can be slightly frustratingly cheap at times.  Fortunately the frustrations wears off a bit when you account for the fact that you essentially have unlimited lives at your disposal.  There are some challenges however to trying to beat the game while dying less.  You’ll die a lot mind you, especially the first play through.  I racked up around 1000 deaths my first time through, and I actually am pretty sure i did better than many people.  Fortunately the truly cheap deaths aren’t until near the end of the game, at which point you’ll know it’s close which keeps one’s drive going.  If the whole game had been full of pointless dearly unsolvable puzzles it wouldn’t be nearly as fun.

Also, while I enjoyed this game, I can see where it likely isn’t for everyone.  It’s pretty much all the same puzzle over and over in different forms.  Also the frustration of dying constantly could get old for some.  The retro graphics won’t be for everyone either.

I guess the point is, if it LOOKS enjoyable from say, screen shots, it’ll probably deliver, since the game is more or less everything you see, not much more or less.

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