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VVVVVV Review (Nintendo 3DS)

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Posted by: Robert Workman

Review Rating 8.5 Great

Many of you may not remember it because it was dominating back when video games were just picking up steam, but nothing beats the old-school days of the Commodore 64.  Playing retro-looking games while establishing ideal gameplay skills and spending hours finding secrets never got old.  Hell, there were some instances we actually preferred it over the Atari 2600.  But those days are over.  Still, some developers remember those days just as fondly as we do – including the lunatics behind VVVVVV.

Originally released back in 2010 for PC and Mac, this platformer has made a successful transition to the 3DS shop, available for a somewhat reasonable price of $7.99.  If you’ve been waiting for a solid downloadable title, or just something to kill time with until the next great game arrives, this is definitely the one to go with.

In the game, you control Captain Viridian, a simple looking dude who finds his ship on a collision course with some strange teleport.  He barely escapes with his life, but his crew members aren’t so lucky, as they’re scattered across a vast, trap-filled map.  The Captain takes it upon himself to rescue them, though he’s got no weapons to speak of, nor can he bop enemies on the head Mario-style.  The only ability he is able to use is a temporary switch in gravity.  With a tap of a button, he can go from walking on the floor to the ceiling, and back again.

When you first start VVVVVV, it’s simple enough, so you get an idea of how the gameplay works.  It’s easy to get into, but after a few stages, you’ll realize how vitally important precision is.  Hitting a spiked floor with even the slightest touch by the Captain’s foot kills him, so you have to be perfect in some areas.  (Luckily, the game comes with unlimited lives, so you can keep trying without severe punishment.)

As you proceed through the map and find crew members, you’ll find bigger and badder challenges awaiting, including randomly moving enemies that require timing to get around and walls that automatically bounce you back, making movement even trickier than you could’ve expected.  As you proceed, you can also unlock bonus levels, which really test your abilities to an even greater effect.  We love it.

Yeah, it’s tough, but you’ll find satisfaction when you finally beat a challenge, only to come upon another one that pushes you to think even further.  Kudos to the developers for throwing in sparingly helpful checkpoints, so that you don’t have to start all the way back at the beginning.  We hate when a game does that.

While VVVVVV isn’t the kind of game that takes advantage of the 3D layout (it’s about as effective as, say, Kirby’s Adventure, with cosmetic touches), it does look great when it comes to recreating the Commodore 64 vibe.  Characters are simply designed, but smile-inducing, especially the captain, who boasts a stupid grin throughout most of the game – unless when he’s dying, of course.  Then it’s all frowny.  The level design is diabolical and tricky, but that just adds to the fun.

Likewise, the music is upbeat and charming.  It sounds like something you’d hear out of a really good NES cartridge, a well-composed soundtrack that keeps you listening to hear what’s coming up next.  The sound effects are minimal, but not really necessary.

While $7.99 may be a bit hard to swallow for a downloadable game (especially one without a level editor), VVVVVV is definitely worth it, not only with its nostalgia but also its challenging gameplay and unlockable extra levels.  It’s worth flipping out with.

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