Saturday, 7 July 2012

VVVVVV - The Review

Vee Six Time's curtain rises to reveal the dashing Captain Viridian’s cyan silhouette heroically posed on the edge of space. Veteran space explorer and leader of the finest goddamn crew in the Teletext galaxy, The Captain is all about kicking ass and taking names. The ship suddenly starts violently shaking, and Dr Violet takes a lingering ominous stare at The Captain, her life, nay, the entire crew’s life is in danger. “Evacuate!” Cries The Captain, as he watches the hunk of purple pixels that he’s called home for many years start to crumble out into the dark vacuum of space, he takes one deep breath, steps into the teleporter and prays for his life.

The first time I laid eyes on Captain Viridian’s crew, I fell in love with them all, so when I watched him emerge from the teleporter alone, my heart broke for the little guy. I immediately made a pact with The Captain to find every last one of these adorable little rainbow drop coloured bastards even if it killed him. Which it did.

There's no fucking about in this game. The second you step out of the teleporter, it's all up to you. The controls are so simple. You tap any button to flip the gravity, and use the D-pad to move, that's it. In a few seconds you're gymnastically ping ponging from floor to ceiling showing off the captains anti gravity legs, hopping and dropping over trivial V shaped spikes to rescue your cuddly crew members. 

To reach the crew member you have to dart through a fuckton of challenge rooms. Each room takes up the screen entirely, and can take between just a second, free from even a sniff of death, and others can leave you wondering if they're even possible. In later levels you treat platforms like hot plates, Jumping from pinhead sized platform to platform barely gracing the floor with your feet. There are also bottomless pits which loop you around the screen, rooms that chase you along, labyrinths, enemies, the works. Also, each of these bitesized challenge room has it's own fantastically thought out name, which would seem like a waste of time to any AAA developer, but it doubles over the games charm.

In total, Captain Viridian died 1536 times saving his crew and yet it was a joy. The whole time that you're playing you feel jacked up with golden syrup, high as a kite off the cheery chiptune anthems and kaliedascope visuals. The stick figure characters only open their 5 pixel mouths to utter the funniest lines, talking to each other about the way they look in great detail, even though there is no great detail. You can collect pointless trinkets along the way, or listen to broadcasts from your ship. It's charming, it's cute, It's so full of character, so flat and yet so 3 dimensional with it's hilarious chatter, that VVVVVV is for me, completely infallible. It's the only game that I can say that in the past few years has crushed and lifted my heart at the tap of a button.

There is a great feeling when playing VVVVVV though, which amounts to more than it's gameplay. It's a portal to your youth. It's the sort of game you’d play from the end of school until the room is dark, your eyes wide open and the image burned to your retina. It’s the screaming, wailing, kicking, fizzy drink guzzling kid that you used to be, that carries on against all rational advice, never stopping until you throw up. It bounces off the walls, snap crackle and popping out at you in it's simplistic 3D. It’s an unstoppable classroom giggle which is sweeter, harder and more colourful than an entire jar of jolly ranchers. It was once said that Ocarina of Time is the War and Peace of videogames, well VVVVVV is the Sherbert dip dab, or if you're American it’s coke and mentos that are begging to be mixed together.

Buying this game for £7 on 3DS (£3 on steam) was like swapping a Charmander for a shiny Charizard, so nick it before someone realises it's too cheap. It may be short, but it's creator Terry Cavannah has proved, it's not the size that matters, but what you do with it that counts.

Captain Viridian, I salute you.

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