Have You Played… VVVVVV?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

VVVVVV is about you and the challenge in front of you. Are you fast enough with your left-right maneuvering to dodge spikes as you fall upwards into the sky? Are you skilled enough to reverse gravity the second your feet touch the ceiling, to send you tumbling back floorward to dodge spikes in reverse? There are no other controls to consider, no lives to protect and restore, and generous checkpointing means you never need to repeat yourself. The game asks you a question and removes everything else in between: are you good enough?

And you will become good enough. VVVVVV is a difficult platformer with rooms you will die inside dozens or hundreds of times, but instant restarts and a hub-style level structure mean that there’s no compulsion to give up. You edge closer and closer to perfection with each attempt, teased along with each three-pixel advance around a previously impossible corner. This is why it works where similarly low fidelity platformers do not. Each segment of VVVVVV’s world introduces some new piece of level design and gradually compels you to master it, never overwhelming you – except when it’s funny to do so.

Couple all that with one of the best game soundtracks of, ooh, the past ten years, and a simple story full of heart, and I’d recommend VVVVVV to anyone. That the modern version also has a level editor and hundreds of custom levels only makes its £4 price more irresistible.

24 Comments

  1. Wowbagger says:

    Looks like a slightly rubbish version of Super Meat Boy? or is that the point?

    (also the little dude looks like the lunatic driver from wreck it Ralph.)

    • aoanla says:

      The mechanical gimmick of VVVVVV is actually simpler and more direct than SMB (VVVVVV doesn’t even let you jump, let alone stick to walls – all you can do is alter the direction of gravity to fall either up or down, and choose to move left or right).

      Obviously, they have some overlap in their intent as games – they’re both twitch/flowstate platformers – but I don’t think there’s that much similarity beyond that.

    • iainl says:

      Super Meat Boy is a fine game, but it’s very different to VVVVVV in play. The floaty momentum of SMB, coupled with the incessant blood and hour after hour of levels give it a brash Metal “more is more” aesthetic that reflects its American source. Cavanagh’s wonder is a pared-down motorik of digital precision. I find it a lot nicer to go back to than SMB, whose largely linear nature and vast expanse of levels means I find the challenges irritate as much as they reward.

    • Harlequin says:

      VVVVV is open, not linear, has a much different mechanic and artstyle. Their similarities end in being trial-and-error platformers. Besides, it came out before SMB, so it’d be more proper to say “SMB is an improved version of VVVVV” :P.

    • Putts says:

      Hardly rubbish at all, in fact, it was out before Super Meat Boy was. They’re very different games. VVVVVV is shorter and easier, but still has plenty of heart and challenge. And while Super Meat Boy’s graphics represent more of the 16 bit era of gaming, VVVVVV is a throwback to the days of the Commodore 64.

    • Oakreef says:

      They’re very different games. I much preferred VVVVVV to Super Meat Boy but that’s only personal preference.

  2. Doubler says:

    Can I just mention that this game has an incredible soundtrack as well? Whenever I was about to give up on something I’d keep trying just to hear more of the music :P

    • Nice Save says:

      You can get a metal cover version of the soundtrack:

      link to souleye.se

    • Catchcart says:

      Yes and Graham said it as well but it bears repeating. They said Spelunky was perfect, that it couldn’t be improved upon. I say: Take the soundtrack of VVVVVV and stuff into Spelunky and you’re in platformer nirvana.

    • raydenuni says:

      Absolutely my favorite soundtrack. I bought an indie soundtrack bundle JUST for the soundtrack, “PPPPPP”. Some of the tracks make excellent ringtones as well if you’re into that sort of thing.

  3. amateurviking says:

    ‘That’s for Veni Vidi Vici you bastard’

    KGs WIT was a classic.

    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Indeed. Still one of RPS’s most memorable pieces.

    • party noob says:

      Oh my God I had gone so long without thinking about Veni, Vidi, Vici oh how much I was angry how much time was spent oh God et cetera

    • onodera says:

      I remember watching a video of someone beating Veni, Vidi, Vici after two hours of failed attempts. One of his failures was dodging all the spikes perfectly, but landing on the wrong, original side of the bump. I could feel his impotent rage even without any sound or subtitles.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I played that in one go over the christmas break 2010 because it was too good to stop.

    And yes, the soundtrack is great. It’s part of my favorite music in general. The other stuff by the musician (Souleye) is great too: link to souleye.se

  5. vlonk says:

    VVVVV like I never saw it before: glitch speedrun (from last weeks AGDQ charity run):

  6. eggy toast says:

    According to Steam I played it for 7 minutes, but I can’t imagine that’s true. I hate difficult-to-be-difficult platformers, to me it’s no fun at all to just memorize when to hit the jump button PERFECTLY over and over and over.

    • Canadave says:

      It’s odd, I’m normally the same as you and don’t tend to go for games of this ilk, but something about VVVVVV just grabbed me. I’ve beaten it twice and still tend to go back and play through bits of it from time to time.

  7. Premium User Badge

    ErraticGamer says:

    VVVVVV is one of my favorite platformers, ever. One of the very few platformers I beat to 100% (in terms of exploration, at least, and trinket finding. I did not get every achievement). So good, so highly recommended.

  8. MojaveMusic says:

    if you haven’t, it routinely goes on sale for like a quarter.

  9. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    I tried, but to progress it requires you to press buttons faster than the PC keyboard is physically capable of registering. Yeah, that’s what I’m going with. I never managed to make that series of jumps right near the beginning because it’s technically impossible LALALALALALALALALA

    • vlonk says:

      That is what I do with some precision jumpers (cuuuuurse you I wanna be the Boshy!). I call it the “veni vidi veni”. I came, I saw, I went (away).