VVVVVV For Victory

By Kieron Gillen on January 11th, 2010 at 2:08 pm.

I’ll be doing a Wot I Think about this later in the week, with any luck, but I wanted to do a quick post to bring this to your attention as it’s just been released. VVVVVV is the first full-size “real” game from Terry “distractionware” Cavanagh who you may know from the previously-hailed Judith and Don’t Look Back. VVVVVV is an imaginary 80s classic with modern formalist brilliance – as Braid is to Super Mario Brothers, VVVVVV is to Jet Set Willy. If you don’t want to download the demo, you can play it online at Kongregate and then buy it from here for nine (count ‘em!) quid. Lots more to say, but I’ll leave you with the footage…

I think it’ll be interesting to see how well it does. For anything with such deliberately retro graphics, nine-quid creates a knee-jerk “Are you sure?” response. I think that response may be well worth getting over, however. Anyway – more anon. Go play.

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98 Comments »

  1. Da'Jobat says:

    Played the demo. Sadly, probably won’t be shelling out the 9 pints (wetherspoons sale and all, other public houses are available), but it was not bad. Had kind of hoped games had grown slightly beyond repeat deaths like that, but I guess a little retro is sometimes welcome.

    • Psychopomp says:

      You’d hoped games had gotten beyond being a stiff challenge?

    • Vinraith says:

      I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’m regularly finding a high level of challenge to be frustrating rather than fun in a given game genre, said genre’s probably just not to my tastes. Consequently, I’d never say “2D platformers are too hard,” I’d just say they aren’t really my genre. Given how much I enjoy a ludicrously challenging strategy game or RPG, I’d never try to dumb down other people’s genres of choice.

  2. Premium User Badge AndrewC says:

    Is that footage speeded up?

  3. Brumisator says:

    funtimes is fun…but much less original than, say, Judith

    For some reason the music during gameplay makes me think of a mashup between Muse’s knights of Cydonia and and the Street Fighter 2 intro theme.

  4. LewieP says:

    I’ve seen quite a few people jump on board for this already.

    I suspect that the (fantastic) Megaman 9, and Capcom marketing budget, have no doubt done Terry a bit of a favour in getting people open minded to paying for this kind of game, with basic (although lovely) graphics.

    It’s a very fun game, my ReVVVVVView here:
    http://savygamer.co.uk/2010/01/08/vvvvvv-revvvvvview/

    Edit: Also I AM BETTER AT THIS GAME THAN YOU KIERON:
    http://img265.imageshack.us/img265/1815/vvvvvvv.png

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      LewieP: I’m not surprised. I’m fucking awful.

      KG

    • Babs says:

      181 deaths in one room!

      You have more patience than I.

    • LewieP says:

      The crazy thing about that room is that I did it in the first couple of tries at the Eurogamer expo, but with more practice got much worse at it (unless Terry made it harder, which wouldn’t surprise me, the bastardo that he is).

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      My hardest room was 230. The Final Challenge, where I had enormous trouble with the middle bit.

      KG

    • RobF says:

      I’ve not had time to run through the full version proper yet, but my beta version stats:

      4 trinkets collected, 1hr 56 minutes, 3633 flips, 985 deaths with 145 on The Final Challenge.

      Oh, the swearing on The Final Challenge. Thank god I was playing it whilst my kid was at school or he’d have had an entirely new vocabulary to enliven the teachers lives with.

  5. Aubrey says:

    Loads of checkpoints means that this game can afford to be hard without getting frustrating. It’s one of the few indie games that has hooked me to the end. None of it feels like “fat”, and the core mechanic feels fully explored. Example: there’s a brilliant trinket related puzzle which involves intentionally avoiding checkpoints, so rather than checkpoints just being this “feature”, they’re actually explored as a mechanic. Very clever stuff. Very fun. Very tough, but surprisingly, not frustrating.

  6. AtkinsSJ says:

    I’m in two minds about getting this – it’s certainly an incredible game, and somehow given my tendency to give up at things, I played the demo to the end with 78 deaths. Somehow dying doesn’t feel like a failure. And the music is amazing! But £9 is still a lot considering how much games cost these days. So I’ll be awaiting the Wot I Think with baited breath. (Whatever baited breath is)

    • Colthor says:

      @AtkinsSJ:

      It’s actually “bated breath”, from “abated”.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ AtkinsSJ

      Isn’t it wonderful that we now live in a world where £9 is considered “a lot” for a game? I mean, I’m quite happy for MW2 to be £60 or whatever, but it’s also magnificent that you can find so many great games for a fiver, or even less than a quid. This is the kind of price structuring I’ve wanted for years.

      And all power to the £9 starting point (or the £60 one, as long as it falls), milk the early adopters then as they wax lyrical about it and lord it over us cheap bastards, we can achingly wait for the price to fall and feel like kings when we snag it for a bargain price. Win, win. I’ll take the plunge once I’ve conquered all the titles from the Steam sale. :)

  7. Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

    Bought – will post my thoughts later.

  8. clippa says:

    That was fun. Is the full game long, I mean it said there was only like 3 more friggers to save. I won’t be shelling out 9 quid for a 5 level game.
    Is it just me or is the music horrendous? I had to mute the sound halfway through.

    • Zero says:

      I’ve not played all the way through but I know that after the third (?) “frigger”, fun interdimensional travel-type things start happening. It’s a bit longer than you think.

      Honestly, I figured the length as something Portal-esque — doable in one sitting if you so choose, but what you’re paying for isn’t ten hours of decent gameplay so much as it is two or three hours of very finely polished, mirror-sheen joy.

    • clippa says:

      Thank you, you’re tempting me. I’m, weighing it up :D

  9. Dood says:

    Is there no institution that limits the amount of spikes you can put on a spaceship?
    Anyway, the demo is fun, although I hope there is more varierty in the soundtrack of the full game.

    Oh, and I want that on a huge plastic cartride for my NES!

  10. TCM says:

    My mind is not suited for this sort of thinking.

    Also, the world is spinning now.

  11. Alexander Norris says:

    Well, that trailer has done more to interest me in the game than anything else I’d seen about it. Lovely music, too.

    Still can’t afford to spare the tenner, though. :(

  12. Alexander Norris says:

    Ooh, I think I just identified the source of the “posts always sink last” bug. I think it happens when a post with replies is deleted; the replies are made into their own posts but are always bottommost for some reason.

    Edit: yep: http://i178.photobucket.com/albums/w269/Ansob/posts.png

  13. iainl says:

    Wow, that was impressively far beyond my rusty platform skills.

    Top tip, indie (or indeed any) games makers – if I can’t complete your demo, I won’t pay money for more levels I can’t reach.

    • Wilson says:

      @iainl – Fair enough. Better to find out playing the demo than complete the demo fine and then not be able to do any of the rest of the game after you’ve bought it huh? :)

    • LewieP says:

      Apparently the feedback he got on it from his IGF submission said that it was too hard. I probably disagree.

  14. Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

    Time: 42 min

    Deaths: 293!

    This pretty much somes up how awful I am at this game. I also guess my obsession with collecting shiny orbs isn’t going to be my friend here as I assume that some off them are going to be really hard to get.

    Also the Veni Vidi Vici sequence of rooms is really bloody evil and vindictive. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it – though I did have a resigned laugh at the room names as I muttered “yes” under my breath quickly followed by “fuck” a microsecond later.

    Any frustrations are nicely tempered by the generous checkpoints though – definitely keeps the right balance between frustration and a sense of achievement at a difficult task well handled – even if some of the sections do require a little element of luck as well as skill (and anyone saying otherwise is a big fat liar and I wont be convinced otherwise).

    I’ll be giving it a concerted playthrough at the weekend.

  15. sbs says:

    I like how the 2 screens which are fucking unnecessarily difficult and frustrating are called “I’m sorry” and “please forgive me!!”
    you better be sorry, developer..

  16. Richeh says:

    It’s fun, but nine quid for two to four hours? It’s not THAT fun.

    He’d probably make a small fortune if he converted it to XBL and charged about a quid for it, a la “I made a game with zombies in it”. I’ll apologise now for bringing an X to RPS. I know we do PC here.

  17. Bhazor says:

    Anyone else getting ticked off that faux retro games all seem to be emulating the same five games with the same damn music. Get over it already, they were like that through lack of choice not design.

    Sprectums aren’t the only system in the history of the world. Personally I can’t wait for the 16 bit era revival.

  18. T-B0N3 says:

    Bit expensive, Might buy it when its cheaper.

  19. Larington says:

    First game in a while to make me shout “fuck you” at the computer. I don’t play games for the challenge anymore so I guess this one isn’t for me. I see what hes trying to go for here, but maybe making the character move left/right a bit slower would’ve been advisable.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      +1 This is definitely a game about platformer-as-challenge rather than, say, “platformer-as-adventure” or “exploration medium”. Bringing back some fairly frightening memories of similar-looking games in the late 80s from the Amstrad CPC (yeah, I wish it would have been a C64 too), with a very bloody vertical difficulty curve.

      Much love for the soundtrack though, I’m a sucker for chip-tune leads.

      As independant forays into modern-retro gaming go, I found BOH rather more enjoyable and less teeth-gnashingly hard.

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      Hey, I just LOVED my Amstrad CPC 6128! Don’t care about any C64, that was teh shit!

    • Premium User Badge yhancik says:

      And I LOVED my CPC464 with its green screen <3

  20. Vitamin Powered says:

    Does anybody know at all whether this is related to Time Fcuk at all? Character design and some of the design elements (TF features gravity reversal as well) are fairly similar.

    • airtekh says:

      That’s exactly what I thought upon watching the video Vitamin; gameplay seems very similar to Time Fcuk.

  21. bhlaab says:

    Way too fast and complicated to remind me of jet set willy.

  22. Urthman says:

    as Braid is to Super Mario Brothers, VVVVVV is to Jet Set Willy

    Really? Does it keep adding radically new gameplay elements every level? Do all the subtitles and weirdo enemies (“Yes Men,” “OBEY,” Stop Sign Head) eventually add up to, if not a coherent whole, at least giving the impression of something more than just random weirdness? Does the music get a lot better than what’s in the video?

    Or did you just mean that Braid is way better than VVVVVV as SMB is way better than Jet Set Willy?

    • kwyjibo says:

      Yes to the first question.

      “Giving the impression of something more than just random weirdness”? That’s the best you can do? As if an impression is something is better than random weirdness? As if blocks of text which skirt around subjects is more profound than narrative, or more worthy than lack of it?

      Maybe you prefer wandering around in a foggy haze. Others prefer the sun.

    • Urthman says:

      “Giving the impression of something more than just random weirdness”? That’s the best you can do?

      Well, actually I thought Braid did far more than that, but was wondering if VVVVVV did even that much.

      In my defense, I was confusing Cavenagh with Jonathan ‘Cactus’ Söderström, whose game Cactus also featured retro 8-bit jumping over spikes and also had for each screen snarky subtitles which, while sometimes good clues, didn’t add up to much of anything. Which is why I was more skeptical about VVVVVVV.

      But thanks to Wulf, whose praise was a little more specific than “It’s the Braid of Jet Set Willy games!” I’m definitely willing to give this a try. Sounds fun, and I’m happy for a game to just be fun. It doesn’t have to have anything deeper than that. But I am curious if this one does.

  23. Dean says:

    Yeah I wish I was good enough to enjoy this.

  24. Helm says:

    If you like chip music, the soundtrack is worth the price of the game, even.

    I like the 80′s videogame semiotics mixed with a strange assortment of subversive details like ‘tv lies’ (check it out it’s in the video above too) and so on. It’s not groundbreaking but it does offer interesting twists on what is effectively, Manic Miner.

  25. fishyjoes says:

    Omg, thats so fun. AAAWW my fingers hurt, cant stop playing, MUST GET THE SHINY THINGY!

  26. Premium User Badge Nero says:

    I’m not much for hard games but I liked the demo so much that I got it anyway cause the style and music was wonderful. Here is my final result: http://i46.tinypic.com/2uejhhh.jpg

  27. Adam says:

    I’m glad that after finally getting to play the demo, I finally sure I know what VVVVVV means. Although I think a more honest title would be ^^^^^^<<<<<>>>>>

    • Wulf says:

      Or perhaps

      Har har har.

      Sorry.

      Those who haven’t played it (or at least watched the video) just aren’t going to get our puns, are they?

    • Wulf says:

      Let’s try that again.

      >.>

      Or perhaps: <[_]>

  28. kafka7 says:

    Watching that footage actually hurt my brain.

  29. Wulf says:

    This is absolutely lovely.

    I didn’t get it when I first saw the pictures–at all–and I freely admit that, and while the video did result in a raised eyebrow, I wasn’t sure about it. I gave it a play because it was reminiscent of Jet Set Willy, and the end result is that yes, it’s absolutely lovely, delightful, and all those sorts of words that would fit it so well.

    It’s lovely because it’s a modern take on the old-school of gaming, and when I say that, I’m not talking about the Nezzies and Gameybois of ye younger saplings (except the older saplings, which aren’t really saplings, and to whom this therefore does not applie), but the home computer, filled with almost dadaist absurdity that didn’t make sense. It didn’t need to. We were all insane back then, weren’t we?

    And yet it’s like a hard-as-nails game of yore that wants to be your friend, and that’s fascinating. I say this firstly because if one fouls something up, it never feels like the fault of the game, and it never makes the player feel stupid, in fact, it’s like a learning experience and with each screen one feels as though they’re getting better at it (at least, I did), and that brings me to the second thing. The game doesn’t punish you for trying, the game doesn’t mock you for failing, the game doesn’t slap your wrists for exploration and experimentation, it encourages you. There’s a save capsule just back there, no worries, have a laugh, like! Be crazy!

    I dig that.

    I really dig that.

    It almost breaks the fourth wall in that the game knows it’s a game, everyone in it is a part of a story which is the game, and yet they know they’re all actors, and it has this… bizarre sort of quality, and odd British (is Terry British?) or British-like humour to it that… is just very hard to explain! It’s tongue in cheek, that’s what it is, the whole bloody thing is totally tongue in cheek, from start to finish. And it’s special for that, it doesn’t need to be pretentious, it doesn’t need to be special, it doesn’t need to be Braid, it just is, and what it is is a lot of fun, to be sure!

    And it makes me smile, because it’s so honest, it’s a game that wears its heart on its sleeve, and I haven’t seen that in a little while. There are so many games out there which are insincere lies by the lack of virtue of their very existence, padded out, bloated piles of nothing, and every once in a while there’ll be something where you can just see that every little bit of it mattered, and the amount of effort and love that went into it all is completely transparent.

    I wish I’d donated to Terry way back when now to get into the alpha. :/ But again, this isn’t a game you can understand by looking at screenshots, or even watching a video, it’s game design brilliance that shines by… playing the game!

    From what I’ve played of V*6, I’m all ready tempted to just put it up on a pedestal next to the other things I love, and you know me, I have particularly refined tastes, and I’m proud of that. :p This is worthy of a spot right next to Knytt Stories on a shelf in my mind, and I’d say that folks who can should give the demo a go. Even if you can’t afford to buy it (and not everyone can), the demo is free so why not give it a look? I promise you it’ll be worth your time.

    There is no bloat here, there is no padding, there isn’t a bit of the game where it was stretched out to make it look bigger than it is, this is excellence from start to finish. It might not even be that long (I don’t know, yet), but what is there shines like some crazy diamond, and one of the best fusions of past and present I’ve seen in a while.

    And like Star Guard, it has a bit of surprisingly clever dialogue here and there, even, which totally caught me off guard, that just adds to it and makes it all the more charming, and it gives the game far more life than the writing of some big budget titles I could mention.

    Yes, I’m 100 per cent serious.

    Bless you, Terry. This is a gem. And I’ve only played the bloody demo! *flails!* I was waiting to mention that at the end so that the full impact of how much of an effect it’s had on me could be felt. And yes, I’ve bought it. I’ve been sucked into a Guild Wars session for now, but any spare moment I have I’m going to sit down with this game, and I’m going to dod so until I’ve finished it completely.

    Potential Loss of Sleep Factor: 10/10

    • Wulf says:

      Addendum – To Clarify: Please do pay attention to the room titles!

    • fishyjoes says:

      I enjoyed your comment and agree with it.

      But.. why are you judging the whole game after only playing the demo?

  30. walaspi says:

    This is how 1980s JSW is IN MY HEAD. But more: no waiting to get across the room to the jumpy bit. No waiting after dying to plough back through for another go.

    Parts of the demo feel like they’re designed to whip through at speed with crazy cross-screen tumbles, but nothing relies on this and careful keytaps work too. Although I fluked straight through the things-moving-horizontally screen at the end of the demo at top speed.

    And there’s a Mac version.

  31. Alexander Norris says:

    Incidentally, I don’t suppose the soundtrack to this is available anywhere? It’s really rather splendid.

  32. malkav11 says:

    I’m vaguely tempted, but people who praise it also generally seemed to have liked 80s platformers. Which I don’t.

    • LewieP says:

      Have you given the demo a try? It does a very good job of giving you a generous taster of what the rest of the game has to offer.

    • Wulf says:

      Depends on what you mean by platformers, as even Dizzy* can be a platformer. Jat Set Willy is a platformer’s platformer. If you have this Japanese 8/16-bit console era vision in yer head though, no, it’s nothing like that. Thank goodness. I, quite frankly, despised that too.

      * Did anyone notice that the ghost in the V*6 demo looked like Dizzy from the Spectrum version of the first game, eyes, gloves, and everything? I really hope that was intentional, because it made me smile. He even bops his arms about like dizzy.

  33. hydra9 says:

    Wulf: If I remember correctly, that room name was also one of the room names from the original Dizzy.

  34. Carra says:

    VVVVVV, A reckless disregard for gravity?

    It does make me think of Jet Set Willy… on a buckload of steroids. It’s missing Beethovens Moonlight Sonata though.

  35. castle says:

    This looks to be my fave 2010 release for a while. Really hits the pleasure zone of challenging-but-not-frustrating (a real accomplishment that a lot of classics fail to achieve). And the music!

  36. Caiman says:

    How times have changed. This wouldn’t have been compared to Jet Set Willy if it had been released in the mid 1980s. There were so many kinds of platform games back then featuring simplistic humanoid characters who jumped, many of which shared this kind of aesthetic, but VVVVVV (I really hope this “stupid game name” trend dies quickly) isn’t much like the gameplay of Jet Set Willy at all. Even aesthetics-wise, Jet Set Willy was a work of art compared with this. As for Braid, comparing that to VVVVVV seems silly – it’s not even in the same league. And asking 9 quid for it, good luck with that. For a couple of quid I might have given the full game a shot, but instead I spent enough time with the flash demo to realise that it’s not worth it. The main problem, the game breaker, is that the action key response lags slightly after I press it – unforgivable in a game requiring tight controls. It could just be Kongregate or my browser, of course, but it doesn’t give me much confidence.

    • Castle says:

      Note to anyone with this issue: it’s just Kongregate or your browser. The control is tight and satisfying in the standalone.

      How exactly are you determining what “league” it’s in by only playing part of a demo? I’d say it’s very much in the same general “league” as Braid: interesting, polished indie title with a lot of ideas. They’re very different games, but both give me the sense that I’m playing something that has taken some new ideas and executed them with a lot of devotion and attention to detail. Now, if you want to compare specific merits of the two games, that’s a different matter. But I think VVVVVV deserves to be discussed in the same realm as big-name indie games like Braid.

    • Wulf says:

      If I may?

      “VVVVVV (I really hope this “stupid game name” trend dies quickly)”

      I actually thought it was a rather clever name, a clever name for light-hearted people.

      Each little V represents a spike, you see?

      That’s a lot of spikes. A thought I’ve had a few times whilst playing VVVVVV.

      “Even aesthetics-wise, Jet Set Willy was a work of art compared with this.”

      You might want to take off those rose-tinted glasses. I know it’s an opinion but…

      http://www.retrogamer.net/users/345/thm1024/jsw2.jpg

      I think that compared to the shots and video above, the evidence speaks for itself, and for me the evidence seems to be quite the contrary to the picture you paint.

      “[...] it’s not even in the same league.”

      I agree with that, I think VVVVVV is the better game and it isn’t bogged down with the Let’s Pretend — Enlightment that Braid is.

      “The main problem, the game breaker, is that the action key response lags slightly after I press it – unforgivable in a game requiring tight controls.”

      I advise anyone to try the demo before they take that at face value. Having played the demo and the full game, I saw no such lag. I’d also think that it’s worth keeping in mind that every PC is different, and that different people will have different problems (and some will have none at all). That’s what the demo is for, it’s there to see whether you like it and if it runs okay for you or not.

      I’m not telling you to ignore the quote, it might be perfectly true for that machine, but see if it is for you! Fair enough, right? I didn’t have that problem, not in the least. I found the controls to be incredibly tight, and whenever I died I only had my own stupidity to blame (but then I don’t particularly have a trumped up view of my own skills, so who knows what the truth is, here?).

      The only way to know is to try the demo.

      “It could just be Kongregate or my browser, of course, but it doesn’t give me much confidence.”

      Considering tha the full game is a download that does not run in a browser, and that there is a downloadable version of the demo available, I’m not sure if that’s even remotely relevant.

  37. postmanX3 says:

    The game is so much fun. I will buy it whenever I get more money… which had better be soon; I have no patience…

    Though I must say, after the music in the trailer, I was expecting a much more awesome soundtrack. The first demo level’s music was a remix of the theme that was underwhelming and the second demo level’s was uninteresting. Oh well.

  38. Petethegoat says:

    Damn you people! You’re the sort of people who paid a penny for World of Goo, or for Crayon Physics Deluxe!

    VVVVVV is the Portal of Indiegames, I would argue. I much prefer it over Braid, which I found to be lifeless in the story department. I prefer it’s graphics also, which I admit may seem a little odd, but I found Braid’s graphics to be lacking character, or emotion.

    I can’t easily explain why I love it so much, but I can say this;
    I really, really love VVVVVV. Hell, I probably enjoyed it more than Portal overall.

    Well then.

    • Wulf says:

      I actually agree wiith you on Braid, and I couldn’t get any sense of soul from it. It seemed to be buried beneath miles of pretentious pap.

      Before anyone breaks out the torches and pitchforks, I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to elaborate on that. A game having character and soul is important, I felt that from Knytt, I felt it from World of Goo, I felt it from VVVVVV. But I got this constant nagging sensation that Braid was trying so hard to mean something that it lost its way. At the end of the day, Braid doesn’t actually mean anything, it doesn’t really signify anything, it makes a lot of sound, and acts pseudo-intellectual at least, but it’s just there.

      There are a lot of pretty words, but they come across more like they’re being used by a politician rather than a poet, someone who doesn’t really understand what it all means. I get this feeling very often listening to Blow himself, too. And you know what? That’s a bloody shame. The thing is, some people can do the whole meaningful game thing, whether they do it to be sensationalist (Tale of Tales, I’m looking at you) or whether it’s just meant to be a bit of thinky-feely goodness (Passage). Braid didn’t fall into this category.

      And it took me a long time to get past the pseudo-intellectual pretentious nonsense to actually find that there was a game beneath it, but even more than that, a really good game, and that surprised me because I just wasn’t getting the vibe of a good game from it. It had felt a bit like Evangelion: The Game up until that point, the kind of pretty and pretentious that only remains that way unless you bother to actually look a little closer, then the truth is revealed. You can accept it for what it is, but if you did poke it just a bit too much–being the explorer that I am, I did–then it’s hard to ignore.

      Strip Braid down, give it simplified graphics like VVVVVV, and a more light-hearted storyline and I would’ve absolutely loved it. Personally, I felt that games like Star Guard and Don’t Look Back had more feeling and meaning than Braid, and they were free. Braid… had a lot of baggage, and that truly was the problem with it. If you strip all the baggage away, it’s a good little game.

      Braid would’ve worked so much better as a happy little minimalist platform game, it would have been perfect, in the way that VVVVVV is perfect, but Blow went and tried to force-feed Braid “meaning”, as ambiguous of a thing as that is, and it turned the spritely little happy lad of Braid into a bloated old pseudo-intellectual, who’s still a bit special if you can convince him to show you how clever he is without giving some kind of speech on the gothic beauty of life.

      Blow doesn’t understand “meaning”, and he doesn’t really know how to make an art game, IMHO. His next game will be a huge success if he can manage to put all that aside and just concentrate on game mechanics, which, you know, he’s actually pretty bloody good at.

    • RobF says:

      I think Blow does understand all the things you say he doesn’t and a whole lot more, personally. Braid is, err, *wanky design hat on here* – more than what it appears to be.

      The story and the art of Braid are just one segment of the game. I can understand if they grate on you, it’s certainly a style I’ve not seen employed in a game before (which I think is to its credit). It’s also incredibly sneaky and subtle, come World 1 and “the twist” (for want of a better term) it’s a big of a gut punch because the game makes you complicit in everything up until that moment. But, it’s not -just- about the story.

      I’ve often described Braid as a designers game.

      There’s a wonderful elegance to how it’s all slotted together, the distant perspective of the story and the way it draws you into the story by playing the game, the “painterly” style of the graphics are all part of that but the biggest part for me is how much it understands games and the genre it’s playing in.

      It’s partly a success because it takes mechanics that whilst I wouldn’t say have stagnated, they reached pretty much a dead end, it takes stuff wot we know and messes about with it well and it’s so sleek, compact and streamlined – from throwing you into the game, the way it teaches you the solutions as part of the game – the way someone who’s never played a platform game prior to Braid will have little trouble picking up the concept.

      It’s incredibly impressive stuff and most designers would have been happy to exploit just one of the things Braid does and run with it. Blow runs with the whole kit and kaboodle and IMO (as is all of this dribble, obviously) from it, he’s forged a stone cold classic. It’s a videogame and an incredibly pure example of one at that. To strip anything out of it would make it lesser as it’s already stripped down to the bone from a design perspective.

      And so is VVVVVV.

      What unites the two is that neither would be as good as they are if they weren’t standing on the shoulders of giants to a degree. It’s what we’ve learnt so far from games, it’s the mistakes and successes of others that enable both to exist as they do. VVVVVV is, in so many ways, retro but in so many ways it’s pushing the craft of game design forward too. You can have frustration, you can have obscene difficulty and you can make both tolerable. You can offer unlocks from the menu (credit also to Eufloria for this), you can slow the game down if you wish. It’s glorious and I’m so proud (and jealous) of what Terry has achieved.

      The pair of them are a pair of the best games (certainly the best platform games) I’ve ever had the pleasure of running through and I wouldn’t change a thing from either.

    • Lilliput King says:

      It’s so easy to dismiss something brilliant as pretentious.

      There’s a lot to Braid. The ‘story’ or ‘meaning’ isn’t cohesive, but a series of vignettes. Different thoughts on the same theme, which create an incredibly powerful atmosphere. Braid has the most ‘soul’ of any game I’ve played post Grim Fandango. If you can’t appreciate it, you’re missing out.

  39. LewieP says:

    VVVVVV and Braid are really completely different games, and are probably a good example of showing how broad games presented as 2D platformers can be as a genre, and also just how much untapped potential there still is even in genres of games that have already had pretty lengthy golden eras.

    I think VVVVVV is a lot more replayable, whereas Braid I utterly loved, but then don’t really need to play ever again.

  40. Logo says:

    Wow I really liked this demo. A lot more than I thought I would actually.

    Best game of the Year…. so far :P.

  41. Tom Camfield says:

    Just a quick play from the Kongregate demo: Odd feeling from this, like; “oh, this is why I play games”. It’s been a very long time since I played something that actually tested my skills*. It’s also the first platformer in a long time where I’ve died and it hasn’t been the camera’s fault or shoddy controls.

    * I only ever play games on normal difficult, and most games anyone can grind through, it’s not exactly testing.

  42. hoff says:

    Yay for indie!

    Meh for cactus aesthetics…

    Booo for captcha window being so difficult to click because there is no visible border around the type-able area.

    • Wulf says:

      I don’t think it’s cactus aesthetics as much as trying to update the look of old platformers like Jet Set Willy, which it’s completely successful at doing. It’s supposed to be reminiscent of old home computer games, and perhaps that’s why it meshes with me so well. Even the named rooms are reminiscent of tens of games from that era.

      It’s basically supposed to be a direct evolution of home computer platformers, kind of like “This is what happens if you take Jet Set Willy and infuse it with new ideas.”, and that I think it excels at. So indeed, not so much to do with Cactus, but very reminiscent of games I played in my youth.

  43. Jakson Breen says:

    I am sure that my brain melted somewhere in the middle of that footage, I a I now see those “VVVVV’s” messing with my vission, and making everything look all wavy.

  44. noom says:

    Beat the Veni Vidi Vici bit… I’d be happier if not for the foreboding feeling I have that there may be harder bits to come :(

  45. Wulf says:

    Apparently it’s pretty funny to listen to someone playing VVVVVV if the listener has no clue what’s going on.

    “THE LIES!”
    “What lies?”
    “LIES, LIES, LIES, LIES, DAMN YOU LIES!”
    “What lies? What kind of lies?”
    “The lies are my enemies, I must run from them!”
    “First the lies, now the truth…”
    “Flingydinghy, blast you, floaty dollar coin of EVIL!”
    “…so the dollar is your enemy now?”
    “Y–FARKENDOODLE!”
    “Did you just say–”
    “YES!”

  46. clippa says:

    10 out of 10 :S – http://www.destructoid.com/review-vvvvvv-160087.phtml&mainnav=PC&mainnav=PC
    Still not sure about the price tag. If it was a fiver I’d snap it up. Steam took all my monies over christmas :(

  47. Lilliput King says:

    The VVVVVV isn’t the spikes. The astronauts’ names all begin with V, and there are 6 of them.

    • Dood says:

      You know, mmmmmaybe it’s both. =)

    • Lilliput King says:

      Could also be the constant pressing of V required.

      I like the astronaut one best, though.

    • Wulf says:

      Well, except the Captain, unless his name is Vite.

      I think the crew names all starting with V was probably introduced after, but that’s just me. Considering how many times I’ve seen V plastered around the walls in that game, especially with the bit I’m stuck on now (damn you upside-down spike rally!), I still think that VVVVVV implies spikes.

      I’m tempted to poke Terry to ask him.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Viridian is the Captain’s name.

    • Adam says:

      Well then. I understand nothing. I think I may have just leveled up my karmic wheel, though.

  48. Wulf says:

    Is it just me or is anyone else now craving an updated Dizzy for the modern era?

  49. Rankaratar says:

    …Having I Wanna Be The Guy flashbacks…
    I’m scared…

  50. Meat Circus says:

    Just finished this. 4h45m, 17/20 trinkets, 1800 deaths and NO VENI VIDI VICI.

    What an astounding little marvel this game is! I normally hate hard games, but the minimal downtime and shocking fairness of the mechanics kept me rapt for an entire Sunday.

    I think I had a huge grin on my face throughout. A perfectly formed morsel of ultragaming. Looks fab, sounds *amazing*, handles like a dream.

    Formidable.