The Games Of Christmas ’10: Day 7

Today’s window on out advent calendar likes to be turned upside-down. It takes all sorts, eh? Adopt a brave face and give it a try. No, not like that. Try again. No, no. Again. No, you’ve got it all wrong. Try it one more time. You did it! Excellent. Today’s game will be very pleased…

…it’s VVVVVV!

Quinns: Of the two indie platformers of the year, Super Meat Boy was the all-American creation. Big, brash, bold and beautiful. VVVVVV, by Cambridge-based indie dev Terry Cavanagh, was the English offering- compact, pleasant, sincere and funny. Both games circled the edges of perfection and both were as brutal as they pleased, but while I love Super Meat Boy for how it plays, I love VVVVVV for how it does so much with so little.

It’s as simple as the binary expressions on everyone’s faces. The cast of VVVVVV can wear either a beaming smile or a comedy frown, but both are such evocative expressions that the change from one to the other is both amusing and affecting. Similarly, the dialogue is sparse, but when you do talk to one of your crew the different personalities of Violet, Victoria, Vitellary, Vermilion and Verdigris all reveal themselves to be distinct, believable and likeable. Through a meagre quantity of text VVVVVV flushes its world with enough humanity to make your weaving between giant spikes or dodging a floating car serious business. Hero business, even! This is probably the one area where VVVVVV leaves Super Meat Boy behind. SMB’s comedy skits aren’t a patch on VVVVVV’s hinted romantic involvements, or the implied pluck of your character. This game is all charm.

Come to think of it, VVVVVV’s music is another great example of “more with less”. The game’s bare-bones chiptunes are as simple as they are stirring, and (outside of Space Funeral) they’re probably my favourite game soundtrack in 2010. It’s astonishing work, and if you played VVVVVV, I’ll prove it. Listen to this, and see just how hard your heart skips a beat at 0:17. Brilliant. And, oh my goodness, this.

That’s it. I need to play this again. Like, right now. That’s the kind of a game it is. If you were thinking of picking up VVVVVV but were concerned about its length (perhaps 3-4 hours for the non-OCD ending), know that six months from now you’ll be thinking about games with great music, you’ll remember VVVVVV, you’ll smile a big, letterbox-looking smile, one like this:

…and you’ll fire up VVVVVV and play it again. Two runthroughs make it 6-8 hours long, and a bargain.

What I’m remembering now is how plenty of the rooms liked to tease you. either with unexpected traps, alluring secrets or funny names. I’m remembering the feeling of walking into a room and groaning like an angry ghost at the nonsense acrobatics I’d be expected to pull off to get to the other side. Or even better than that- the rooms where you enter, raise one of your eyebrows as high as it’ll go at the impassable obstacles in your way, and then you let out the angry ghost groan as you realise what you have to do.

The very best videogames in existence leave you with a whole mess of memories that are so varied and entertaining that you can leaf through them like a photo album. VVVVVV is one of those games, and if you haven’t played the demo yet, you should download it right now. Captain Viridian’s crew is in deadly trouble, and they need your help.

Kieron: As Quinns notes, this was a year bookended by two relatively traditional cut-to-the-bone indie platformer classics. The everyone-crammed in house-party of Super Meat Boy is still tearing apart everyone’s hearts (and fingertips). Meanwhile, VVVVVV is smaller, more intimate, delicate, funny and very charming. And brutal. If we’re doing early 00s garage-indie-retro revival stuff, while Super Meat Boy is something like (say) The White Stripes (including all the various guest stars from across the years, and maybe the Raconteurs, oh I’m going on, you get the idea) then VVVVVV is the Moldy Peaches. Except not as cloying. And in tune.

The surprise of VVVVVV is the thing. Cavanagh came to RPS’ attention with things like the Orpheous-Platformer Don’t Look Back and Wolfenstein-as-human-horror-story Judith. That the first “big” game was something which was something which only the most reactionary prick could describe as pretentious was another little wonder.

Speaking generally, VVVVVV is a little wonder.

We shouldn’t have been surprised. The thing is, he always did lots of micro-games. I had the pleasure of actually creeping into the World of Love Jam – which I meant to write about, if only for the CONTRACT ON THE WORLD OF LOVE JAM Public-Enemy referencing title – where I took part in a session where everyone made a game with some theme of Vegetables. I, of course, couldn’t program. So I was quickly introduced to, and made a visual-novel. Without many visuals. So a sort of micro-choose-your-own-adventure.

What I managed to do in the 45 minutes is actually up here. It’s called vvvvvvegetable.

It’s basically a recreation of Veni, Vidi, Vici in the form of a choose your own adventure. Hard left? Hard Right? A little left? A little right? Go straight on? With you basically having to guess, then get sent back to the start, and memorise the route. I ran out of time so didn’t have the return trip, but I did include the “Oh – and the platform at the end disintegrates” death.

Cavanagh played it and played it all the way through. It was no small satisfaction that I wasted some of his time in the way that the hundred-life-killers of VVVVVV did to me.

It’s the only game of the year I made a game about. I’m not sure I have a higher compliment.


  1. Lambchops says:

    I’m rather enjoying Super Meat Boy at the moment but force me to choose between it and VVVVVV I’d definitely plump for VVVVVV. It has more charm, I like the cathartic break of exploring the outer world compared to SMB’s constant barrage of levles. Plus I found VVVVVV pitched at just the right level of difficulty, whereas reaching the latter stages of SMB now there are several levels that I just look at and can never see myself completing. Oh and the bosses are guff.

    So both brilliant games but VVVVVV wins out in my book. Really I should have just stuck to that but they kind of cry out to be compared!

    • Meat Circus says:

      Super Meat Boy is a far tighter experience, but in the final showdown of raw creativity, VVVVVV beats the meat, just.

    • Wulf says:

      SMB is only tighter if you like that sort of slippy-slidey experience, VVVVVV is more… I want a better word than ‘tight’. I’ll plump for mechanically correct… VVVVVV is more that if you truly want to experience a mind-to-reflexes ratio done properly in a game, like nothing else. Where you actually have to think, and you have to think on the fly. i really think that VVVVVV nails that, and there’s not really a quotient of luck in VVVVVV, it’s raw skill versus muscle memory, but due to the way the two are designed, I think there’s a much higher luck quotient involved in SMB, which makes it more… ‘loose’?

      Anyway, Terry Cavanagh is masterclass when it comes to games design, and this becomes apparent with how many people are obviously, painfully jealous of him and his talents (you should see how the creator of Underworld lambasts him). I really hope that at some point in the future he sits down to develop another game at least as long as VVVVVV.

    • Jeremy says:

      Luck is a strong word for a game that has pixel perfect hit detection.

  2. Meat Circus says:

    What an adorable, creative, vicious, hateful, sexy, vile, beautiful and wonderfully, addictively evil game VVVVVV is.

    It has been a good year for 2d platformers, and Captain Viridian can hold his head high that he had a part to play in that. For a dead genre to suddenly awash with some much vital energy fills me with an enormous sense of wellbeing.

    And, no, I never got all the shiny trinkets, but I don’t care, because Prize for the Reckless is better than Doing Things the Hard Way anyway.

    • Wulf says:

      I got them all and saw the secret ending that you haven’t. >_>

  3. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    VVVVVV surprised me. It’s core idea is so simple, yet an enormous variety of challenges are elegantly built from them. The graphics are simple but charming. The room names by turns descriptive, amusing, or insulting. And the soundtrack is basically perfect.


  4. Fraser Allison says:

    The greatest praise:
    I never OCD-complete games. I OCD-completed VVVVVV, even though it was the hardest goddamned thing I had to do all year.

    If you haven’t played it but you’ve heard how difficult it is, don’t be put off. It pushes the ‘difficulty’ slider all the way to the top, but it also pushes the ‘pointlessly frustrating bullshit’ slider all the way to the bottom.

  5. Meat Circus says:

    I still dream of the day I’ll be able to survive five seconds in the MEGA-BOUNCE-O-TRON.

    • Auspex says:

      Feast your eyes upon this and DESPAIR!

    • Wulf says:

      I got 35 seconds! …but after that I started to go a little bit funny(er) in the head, so I decided to stop.

    • WombatDeath says:

      Bloody hell, that clip is astonishing. I mean, yes, I’m getting old and increasingly knackered, but that’s so far beyond my capabilities that I might as well be a different species.

    • Sinomatic says:


      I think I managed about 15 or 20 seconds at one point, but that was more about luck and my conscious brain having turned off and my fingers playing it on their own. That there is someone playing it with purpose.


    • Stephen Roberts says:

      He’s an immortal, right?

    • MrPwere says:

      Definitely not an immortal.
      I think I would know by now.
      And not that young anymore, either.
      But when your fingers play on their own is where you want to be. Work on that peripheral vision and let wonders happen!

  6. Auspex says:

    I love VVVVVV but I utterly adore SMB. They’re both definitely in my top 5 games of the year which is incredible bearing in mind that I’d never even completed a “platform game” before VVVVVV.

    • Auspex says:

      Also even then mention of Veni, Vidi, Vici causes a weird pain-like sensation in my ring finger. Watching a youtube video of it causes said finger to fucking convulse.

    • NecktieGrins says:

      My girlfriend is way into Mario. She grew up with Mario. I grew up jumping to my senseless, clumsy doom as Luigi at friends’ houses.

      I’d since come to loathe Mario specifically (and all platformers) in a twisted, Grinch-like way.

      Then VVVVVV happened and my heart grew to twice its size. In spite of constant frustration and keyboard mashing fury, I found myself enjoying VVVVVV quite a lot. Maybe not enough that I finished it, but enough that I played a stupendous amount of it. Even replaying sections that, upon their completion, I vowed I would never ever touch again.

      Then Super Meat Boy dropped, and my heart grew to thrice its size, I bought a gamepad, lifted the sleigh from that icy precipice, gave all the presents back and all was well in whoville.

      Though, I still need to restrain myself from throwing the controller through my monitor most days.

    • Wulf says:

      Veni, Vidi, Vici was actually pretty easy compared to Edge Games.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I didn’t understand how to do Edge Games, so I used the fact that when the pacmen went off the edges of the screen they didn’t exist for a split second and phased through them twice, which gave me plenty of time to grab the trinket.

      I have not yet completed Veni, Vidi, Vici. 19 trinkets!

    • Baf says:

      I made the same mistake wrt Edge Games! Only I never managed to actually grab the trinket that way. Always the guys on the third tier would get me just as I was starting to jump down into the pit. Er, up.

      For anyone reading this who has not gotten the Edge Games trinket yet: If you’re taking advantage of the split second of intangibility that the monsters go though while looping through the very edge of the screen, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. There is a much easier way.

  7. Rinox says:

    I recently bought VVVVVV (as part of the indie pack during the Thanksgiving sales? I can’t remember) , and I didn’t regret it for one minute. There’s something really clever about how the game comes together – the music, the rudimentary animations of the characters, the ‘name’ of each screen, the background story…and of course the diabolical gameplay.

    Like Fraser Allison said, I don’t usually play games for the sake of them being hard either. But most of VVVVVVV’s challenges are on the sweet spot of ‘you will die a ridiculous amount of times’ and ‘it’s not that hard when you know what to do’. It’s glorious.

    I even tried finding all the trinkets, although I stopped at 10 (for now).

    • Wulf says:

      When you have the time, soldier on and get the other 10 trinkets. I promise you that it’s worth it. The secret ending will make you adore the crew all that much more, and it tells you more of what they’re about, what their goals are, and it’s just happy wrapped up in joy, bundled in glee.

  8. Casimir's Blake says:

    As a Brit I suppose I’m biased. British-made, and the space-faring plot of VVVVVV comes across far more compelling than… UGH!

    Super Meat Boy, All American you say? Oh, such a great revelation! In fact it shines through in the South-Park-reject visuals (not the pixel art though, that’s sublime), the throwaway “why bother returning to the same level after it took 2348 attempts” challenge, and the exploration-bereft nature of the gameplay.

    Super Meat Boy certainly has the platforming down perfectly, but VVVVVV remains the less… silly game. And its controls work 100% of the bloody time, which kinda helps on the 48295th attempt of Veni Vidi Vici.

    Filling up the overworld map of VVVVVV brings a sense of accomplishment. SMB is lazy, and has, in 5 of the 6 main worlds, the same damned “Z” layout every time. Couldn’t they be bothered to change it?

    • Wulf says:

      Pretty much sums up how I felt about things. Except I’d add that I felt that the humour of SMB was so incredibly crass that I couldn’t really stomach much of it at all, if it were any more lacking in charm and intellect, its brow would’ve been scraping the floor, alongside its knuckles. Blargh.

    • Joe says:

      @ Casamir’s Blake, Wulf

      I wish to hop on your bandwagon. (Though I don’t think it’s a British vs American thing.) I explain myself at the web page with the self-explanatory URL below.

      link to

      Perhaps it’s an arbitrary comparison, but I was hoping that SMB would quench my VVVVVV cravings and it really didn’t.

  9. airtekh says:

    I really enjoyed VVVVVV.

    It pissed me off the first couple of times I died but after a while you just go into a trance: Die. Respawn. Die. Respawn. Die etc. It has a really good soundtrack as well.

    The choked cry of triumph and Tiger Woods-style fist pump upon conquering ‘Veni, Vidi, Vici’ has got to be one of my best gaming moments from this year.

  10. Gabe Kotick says:

    “Of the two indie platformers of the year” What about Limbo?

    • Delusibeta says:

      It’s a PC gaming site. Besides, I’ve tried the demo and I really didn’t think much of it. Nice piece of electronic art, not convinced of it’s credentials as a “good platformer” (with emphasis on the “good”. Obviously, in my opinion.)

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      PC site and I hate Limbo.


    • Auspex says:

      Yeah Limbo is non-pc, fundamentally a puzzle game rather than a platformer and, most importantly, shit.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      I liked Limbo. Y’all be hatin’.

    • Auspex says:

      /You/ would Quintin. Style over substance (or quality…) is what you’re all about young man.

      (EDIT: that sounded a lot meaner than I meant)

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      If Limbo ever comes out on the PC, I’m sure Quinns or me will tell the story about when I first played Limbo at about 2am when we were all drinking.


    • Auspex says:

      Well if that doesn’t get Playdead to the PC porting machine then nothing will!

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Auspex: It’s fine! I do like style. Without style, where would we be?

      (Sunderland, probably.)

    • Oak says:

      Clearly, the trauma of leaving RPS has sent Old Man Gillen off his rocker. Limbo is great.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Kenickie came from Sunderland! And had style, as they gave testament to in their Classy!

      Wot I Think: Limbo. In short – Rick Dangerous for goths.


    • Gabe Kotick says:

      To me it’s just a gaming site.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      Official word last time I heard RE: Limbo on PC was “Nope, not ever, sorry”, although it’s entirely possible that they are contractually obliged to say that until a certain date.

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      Another one for the ‘ayes’ here. Not exactly a classic, or even particularly original I suspect, but I liked what they did with the omnipresent brooding atmosphere (including the comically brutal deaths) and the platforming/puzzling had a pleasing tactile feel.

    • Gabe Kotick says:

      Kieron, are you pissed off because Limbo isn’t on pc?
      link to
      link to

    • Jad says:

      If we’re talking about platformers that are more puzzle-y than platform-y, P.B. Winterbottom came out on PC this year too. I don’t think it was very good though.

      VVVVVV is very very very (+3 more) good. What a fantastic game. My second favorite indie game I played this year, after Machinarium.

    • FreezerBag says:


      “Wot I Think: Limbo. In short – Rick Dangerous for goths.”


    • Wulf says:

      “Rick Dangerous for goths.”

      I’m glad I wasn’t drinking, or you would’ve owed me a new keyboard, since that comment earned itself quite the amused sputter.

      That almost sums up what I felt about Limbo though, except in my case it was ‘melancholy flash game that I’ve seen a million times before on Kongregate, but where the console owners actually have to pay for it’.

    • Delusibeta says:

      For people without Spotify, here’s a link to Classy (as linked to by Kieron) on another music service: link to

  11. adonf says:

    “Violet, Victoria, Vitellary, Vermilion and Verdigris” “Captain Viridian’s crew”

    Oh, so that’s why it’s called VVVVVV ! :facepalm: (seriously)

    And thank you for bringing my attention to the music, I usually play with the sound off or very low.

    • Tusque d'Ivoire says:

      I had always thought that VVVVVV might also be a reference to the omnipresent spikes. or the player’s movement through the game world. It’s a very clever title. It’s a very clever game.

      Only recently I showed it to a friend and he called me a week later or something to tell me he’d finished it in a day or two.

      Oh and I sometimes listen to the soundtrack ^^

    • Nova says:

      Or Veni Vidi Vici and back to the start, thats also 6 V’s.

    • Wulf says:

      I think it’s all of the above. Back in the earliest versions, it started off just being a pun about spikes I think, but then it spiraled outward into a series of puns surrounding the letter V.

  12. Mike says:

    Not heard of before. Thanks for the tip – looks like an interesting tool.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Mike: I actually continued to play with it for quite a while afterwards. There’s a lot of stuff you can do with it. I had a sort of princess-maker thing working.


  13. mathew says:

    The RPS hivemind hate me or something now so they refuse to cover the latest issue of exp. being out, but if you’d like to read more about VVVVVV (er, written by me) you can check out the most recent issue, which is actually available to read online (in pesky PDF format.) Or you can buy it and get a lovely physical copy. Your choice!

  14. UW says:

    I’m glad this came up, I only just picked up VVVVVV in the recent Indie ‘Clever Pack’ Steam Sale and have since racked up 10 hours, completing the game twice. I have totally gone OCD on it, though. I’m trying to get through all the time trials and go through the game with fewer deaths.

    Absolutely amazing game, one of my favourite platformers of all time.

  15. Casimir's Blake says:

    Someone should tell Souleye to sell through Bandcamp as well (heck, I think I’ll mail him). Makes it a lot easier to get FLACs, and this is a soundtrack worthy of FLACs. There aren’t many composers out there that have a truly gifted ability to compose melodies that are this catchy, but are not trivial.

  16. Mattt says:

    Horror! You only used 5 Vs to spell it at the end of the article!

    VVVVVV is one of the games I picked up to be a palate cleanser while playing Bioshock 2. I was only intending to play it in 15 minute bursts so it would last me to the end of Bioshock 2, but before too long I couldn’t resist playing it straight through. It was late at night as I got tired and my reactions became sluggish and I knew I should go to bed, play it when my reflexes were at their best, but the music and throbbing motion had me entranced. I payed full price for it and it was well worth every penny.

  17. noobnob says:

    The Super Graviton makes you angry, frustrated but it’s also strangely satisfying.

    Great game overall, definitely one of the best platformers I’ve played in my life, and it would’ve been lauded as a GOTY if launched a decade (or two) ago. Both SMB and VVVVVV are proofs that there is room to explore 2D platforming mechanics in satisfying ways rather than the stale continues/lives design.

    But I find myself surprised with claims that the game is 3-4 hours long, I finished it in 1:47 in the first playthrough with 15 trinkets. Around 2:30 with the continue option to grab the remaining trinkets (blame the Veni Vidi Vici level).

    • Lilliput King says:

      Yup, steam claimed I’d put in 1 hour to finish the regular game with 16 or 17 trinkets. I don’t feel like it was a waste of cash, though, and I still haven’t unlocked all the content, as the last trinket continues to elude my grasp.

  18. Eric says:

    To get VVVVVV and Super Meat Boy both in the same year truly is almost too much to handle.

    Both absolutely wonderful games, released by, as far as can be ascertained, wonderful people who loved making them.

    God bless us, every one. :D

  19. Mattressi says:

    I know I’ll induce the wrath of the RPS Hivemind for saying this but…I didn’t like VVVVV. I can usually play – occasionally even enjoy – platformers (though some, like Gish, bore the crap out of me), but VVVVV was just too frustrating. Hard is an understatement. I played the demo and took around 30 attempts to clear a certain ‘puzzle’. When I finally completed it I didn’t feel any satisfaction, just dread at the thought of having to go through another mind-numbingly painful stage. The sad thing is I can work out straight away what I need to do, but I just don’t have the skill, time or patience to actually complete the puzzles. Maybe I’ll try SMB instead?

    • Meat Circus says:

      Hard and frustrating are not the same thing. VVVVVV and SMB succeed in being hard without being frustrating. They manage this, for the most part, by being scrupulously fair in their brutality towards the player.

    • fuzzyevil says:

      Sorry, but if you didn’t like VVVVVV because it was too challenging, I’m afraid Super Meat Boy isn’t the game for you either. Damn that game is hard.

    • Bioptic says:

      Hard and frustrating aren’t the same thing, but the former can easily lead to the latter! In the end, it doesn’t matter how many micro-checkpoints you put in, how charming your retro graphics are or how inspiring your soundtrack is – a certain subsection of people are going to reach a point in VVVVVV or Super Meat Boy where they are unable to progress, unable to improve, and just aren’t having fun. I’ve been very, very bored playing both VVVVVV and SMB, because endlessly re-experiencing the same 5 seconds of a given corridor just doesn’t feel like a worthwhile use of my time.

      Personally, I’m not greatly affected by the presentation of either game – I don’t find them that interesting or charming, but I don’t find them particularly distracting or irritating either (except when listening to the same bloody 2 minute loop on a particularly frustrating section). But I do object to them receiving universal recommendation without any reservations – these are not games that everybody will like or have an appreciation of the core mechanics. That they exist is definitely A Good Thing though, and I can understand the press wanting to sing their praises.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      100% with Bioptic on this one. Though I do find the “world-map” mechanic and the separate screens do give VVVVVV a sense of scale that feels epic. Progressing through the game is thoroughly satisfying as you discover more areas. SMB’s level/stage setup just makes it feel like you’re going from one contrived platforming challenge to another and there’s nothing to “explore”.

      Further, SMB may have a similar die/respawn mechanic, but later on its levels – not just screens! – become huge, and ultimately you’ll be replaying larger segments of “game” in it than you would in VVVVVV.

    • Reddin says:

      I have racked up more deaths in Super Meat Boy than in in my whole first playthrough of VVVVVV, and I’m only at the boss-level of world 3.
      Make of that what you will.
      I also think that you would not really enjoy SMB since as the game goes on, the levels only get harder, longer and more complicated. And no checkpointing in the levels either.
      Reading what you write makes me think that this type of platformers (masocore?) just might not be for you.

    • MrMud says:

      I got stuck in the section in VVVVVV where you “escort” one of your crew members. I hated that part and was locked in to the level until it was completed. While in SMB if i hate a level there are plenty of others that I can try. As a result I stopped playing VVVVVV much quicker than SMB.

  20. Shamanic miner says:

    Made me swear like a docker but one of the most charming games I’ve played. The fact that it manages to have more character depth than something like “Dragon age” is amazing.

  21. WarpRattler says:

    Instead of writing a long and boring comment about how absolutely wonderful VVVVVV is, I’m just going to play through it again.

  22. Chris says:

    No need for a written review. Here’s a video that accurately displays everyones feeling while playing VVVVVV.

  23. oceanclub says:

    “Cambridge-based indie dev Terry Cavanagh, was the English offering”

    Oh dear. I expect this from the rest of the British press (which used to cheerfully coopt any successful Irish sportspeople as “British”, but of course, even Unionist terrorists were “Irish”) but not you guys….


  24. Lambchops says:

    I got all the trinkets. By the way did i mention that I got all the trinkets? All the bloody trinkets, oh the memories of frustration! Fuck you Edge Games. Fuck you Doing Things the Hard Way, but most of all FUCK YOU Prize for the Reckless!

    All the trinkets. What possessed me?

    • adonf says:

      Also fuck you Do as I say / Don’t do as I do

    • mlaskus says:

      I am one trinket away from the Prize for the Reckless, and I would like to second the fuck you directed at it.

      Wait, was the Prize for the Reckless an achievement for getting all the trinkets or a name of a room? I think I got confused.

    • phlebas says:

      Prize for the Reckless is the name of a room with a trinket in. It’s not as hard as Veni, Vidi, Vici but cleverer.

    • mlaskus says:

      Ah, I see, thanks.

      I just checked on Youtube at this is the only trinket I didn’t get.

    • Nova says:

      “…Not As I Do” was the one that came closest to being annoying for me, but VVVVVV is my game of the year to put that into context.

      Oh and I also got all trinkets with something above 2000 deaths.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      Do as I say, don’t do as I do is the level I’m still stuck on. I’ve never been able to get it two work. I tried for an hour, gave up, and then played Recetter again. Now that I think about it, I really hope Recetter is on this list.

  25. K says:

    Weird. I absolutely love the Meaty Boy, but I cannot stand Gish and didn’t like VVVVVV at all (except for the music). Why?

  26. Archaeon says:

    The soundtrack for VVVVVV is so nostalgic. I love it! Gives me vague flashes of some of my favorite old videogame tunes. It’s got shades of Sonic and Adventure of Link (LoZ II). At least those are the 2 games that come to mine when I hear the VVVVVV tunes.

    • phlebas says:

      There’s one bit that sounds like one of the tunes from Out Run, too. Many years ago I bought a magazine that came with a tape of Out Run music and it was fantastic.

    • phlebas says:

      A little research indicates it’s part of “Magical Sound Shower” I was thinking of:

    • souleye says:

      Is it the beginning of Pressure Cooker you’re thinking about? ( I love outrun music too… Check out Instant Remedy’s remixes! )

    • Thants says:

      Reminded me of the music from Mega Man more than anything. Which is high praise.

    • phlebas says:

      I think it was Positive Force. The music was around Prize for the Reckless, I’m pretty sure.

  27. kyynis says:

    Love jam? Ewww…

  28. Jimmy says:

    I’ve been holding out until now, but that soundtrack has me convinced.

    RPS needs to get commissions for this kind of stuff.

  29. bwion says:

    VVVVVV is a game I would have adored when I was about ten years old.

    (This is not to say that it’s a kid’s game, only that I no longer have a ten-year-old’s reflexes).

    Before I played it, I was a little resistant, frankly, mostly because it’s got that IF YOU DON’T LIKE THIS THERE IS SOMETHING HORRIBLY WRONG WITH YOU THIS IS THE GREATEST CREATIVE WORK IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND overenthusiastic fan thing going on that some very popular things pick up which works sort of like Kryptonite on me.

    After I played it…well, it’s still got that overenthusiastic fan thing happening, but it is a genuinely good game. Though I think it’s probably in that “genuinely good, but not really for me” category, though, as I’m not really a platformer guy these days (see also aforementioned ten-year-old reflexes which I lack).

  30. TheTourist314 says:

    I disagree with your indie band comparison.

  31. Walbridge says:

    Man, I don’t know how there is so much hate for SMB. Can’t we just love ’em both? And I think I know why you’re favoring VVVVVV over SMB (besides the fact you’re Brits, wink wink, heh heh): VVVVVV is sweet, sincere, and tries to make you care about some regular ‘ole people. SMB is well-executed and funny but does not try to touch your heart. And we all know which one is a rarer find, which craving is harder to satisfy. Totally serious.

    But I gotta insist SMB was awesome. Don’t know why the hate. Trudging through it was loads of fun and I generally only like multiplayer games. Just because it happens to not be as unique as VVVVVV is no reason to hate, it is a diamond in the rough.

    Did I mention we don’t need to hate SMB to love VVVVVV? I think so. I think that’s out of the way.

    • Baf says:

      It reminds me a bit of the fan rivalry between Braid and World of Goo in these pages a few years back.

  32. Terash says:

    Soundtrack of the year, no question, and it’s a solidly constructed game, but I expected a lot more from it.

    The names are really neat but the writing was all pun-depth, in a game where the enemies are abstract concepts like “lies” I was thinking there would be something more elaborate going on (of course, I might not get it… for instance did the Spoiler: elephant mean something?). And as a game I couldn’t shake the feeling that the core mechanic is a lot less interesting and mindbending than it was intended to be (post-Super Mario Galaxy, Braid etc it’s nothing special), and a high difficulty balanced with instant restarts almost feels cliche these days. Not sure about the pacing and length, either, as a consumer it’s good value but as a player I was expecting another world map to explore and just got an ending. Re-using old levels for the final encounter was a bit lame too.

    Still, it’s an impressive demonstration that all those pre-3D consoles long since discarded as obsolete could easily have supported something relevant to 2010 and I think that was probably the main intention.

  33. Droopy says:

    The great thing about Veni, Vidi, Vici is that once you complete it, it becomes a part of you. It’s like when you’re learning how to drive a bike or a car — after enough practice you just start doing things automatically. That’s what Veni, Vidi, Vici was for me. After beating it the first time I could easily do it several times more without having to think about how, my fingers just moved on their own. I tried doing it a month after finishing the game and it only took me a handful of tries before I completed it.

    I felt that was bloody amazing; that a part of VVVVVV will always be with me, hardwired into my spine.

    • The Army of None says:

      Agreed, Droopy. After the first initial bludgeoning, now I can pretty much do that level on command. Weird how muscle memory works.

  34. Gassalasca says:

    Come to think of it now, VVVVVV is my game of the year (though I havent’t played Mass Effect 2 yet, so…)
    SMB is ok (the replay idea is really good), but not truly great, I’d say, as VVVVVV.

    P.S. Rick Dangerous for goths? Sounds awesome! :D :P

  35. Mr Chug says:

    I managed to get all the trinkets except Veni Vidi Vici. After almost an hour of trying, I managed to get all the way up and down, only to land on the wrong side of the partition. This caused an actual scream, followed by a rageuninstall, and I’m never going back to it again.

    Sweet music though.

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      When I was doing that room I became acutely aware of the fact that one could indeed do as you have described. I think the actions you took following the event are justified.

  36. MD says:

    VVVVVV vs. Super Meat Boy is the Quake vs. Unreal of our generation.

    (VVVVVV and Quake win, obv.)

  37. Muzman says:

    After this and Meat Boy and Braid could the bedeviling of indie games by the ‘nostalgic 2d platformer’ finally be over?
    Slay the dragon of 2d Shmups and it can at last be free.

  38. Sinomatic says:

    I came, I saw, I conquered.

    And then my fingers fell off and I had to go for a little lie down.

    VVVVVV is definitely one of my favourite gaming experiences of the year. Its a perfect little package of difficult-but-compulsive-but-fun.

    Super Meat Boy is good, but it lacks the same level of charm. I’ve not felt the same drive to go back and push past levels I’m struggling with. I’m actually more tempted to go back and play VVVVVV for all the trinkets and whatnot, so that says it all for me.

  39. The Second Fortress says:

    The one thing VVVVVV really has over SMB in my opinion is the compartmentalization of it’s mechanics. Each new idea (The Auto-Bouncing Lasers, Scrolling Levels, The Looping Levels, etc) is given to you in a sort of gameplay vacuum without any other additional advanced mechanics. Once you finish all of the individual sections, you are led to the final level that uses all of these bits of gameplay together. The genius of this is that you have already been taught how to interact with everything in the most difficult way, the final level just puts these things next to each other and new patterns emerge from the rules you already know very intimately. Because of this the player gets a sense of epic finality and confidence to pull through. SMB doesn’t do that.

    Also I don’t curse the names of Edmund and Tommy, But I will always recoil in horror after an utterance of “Terry Cavanagh”

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      I haven’t completed SMB so can’t talk with certainty past the middle of the salt factory but… I think SMB does that exact same thing pretty well. Play through the forest as fast as you can and see how it trains you up on basics then introduces different elements steadily before the entire things gets more technical and challenging.

      Comparisons of the two games is inevitable but they are both fantastic so I see no need to go any further than that. (followed by going further than that) The cutscenes in Meat Boy have made me laugh more too (I think it’s the hyper-simplified and exaggerated expressions).