9.5 Overall Score
Gameplay: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 10/10

Satisfying challenge | Old-school graphics and charm | Amazing soundtrack

Can be frustrating at times | 3D effect almost non-existent | Hard to pronounce title

Game Info


DEVELOPER(S): Terry Cavanagh


PLATFORM(S): Nintendo 3DS eShop

GENRE(S): 2D Platformer

RELEASE DATE(S): December 29th, 2011

If you’ve been paying attention to the world of video games lately, you’ve no doubt noticed the retro revolution.  Old-school looking, tough-as-nails side-scrolling games mainly made by indie developers have become popular recently thanks to hits like Super Meat Boy and the Bit.Trip series.  Now you can add VVVVVV to this list.  After being previously released to play on PC & Mac, VVVVVV is now available to play on the 3DS via the eShop.

VVVVVV tells the story of a ship captain and his crew that gets sucked into a portal and arrives in a new dimension.  Your mission is to retrieve your lost crew and find a way to return home.   In order to do this, you have to transverse over multiple connecting single-screen environments while avoiding spikes and various enemies.  The only action you can take is to flip gravity on yourself so that you can channel Lionel Ritchie and start dancing on the ceiling.  By switching between the ceiling and the floor, you can navigate around all the various obstacles.

And holy hibernating haberdashers, the obstacles.  This game will kill you dead many times.  Many, many times.  Luckily there are checkpoints on nearly every screen to respawn from.  This doesn’t make sections any easier; if nothing else you’ll die more because of the security of knowing you’ll reappear right next to what killed you.  This makes completing some of the more insane challenges that much sweeter.  The levels are designed cleverly in that you look forward to each new section to see what they can come up with next. There is a real sense of accomplishment that comes from finally making it through a section that utterly destroyed you.  Make no mistake, this game is hard.  But not so hard that it feels impossible.  The controls are very responsive and easy since there’s only one button to press besides the d-pad.  I definitely preferred these controls to playing with arrow keys and the space bar on a computer.

The main campaign can be a little short (outside of the 1,000+ deaths you’re likely to rack up), but there is plenty to do after you’ve finished.  The PC/Mac version came with a level editor, and the 3DS version comes with a selection of these user-created levels already in the game.  Basically each of these added levels is a brand new campaign, with new obstacles to overcome and new hiding places for your crew.  These definitely aren’t “play the new screen for 10 minute” levels, these are pretty much multiple sequels squeezed into one package.  Along with the extra user levels are time trials and shiny trinkets (literally, that’s what they’re called) spread throughout the main game to help you unlock even more extras.  You’ll definitely get your money’s worth in this one.

Visually, this game is a treat.  It immediately brought to mind some of the better Commodore 64 games I played way back when.  It’s got a very charming 8-bit style that fits perfectly on the 3DS.  The various levels where you find your crew are colorful and have sharp detail in the edges and enemies.  Everything just has a high quality shine to it.  The 3D effect doesn’t add anything however, and the entire experience could be played without turning it on and you wouldn’t miss a thing.  Keeping with the yesteryear vibe, the music is all straight-up chiptuned goodness.  This is a soundtrack that you’ll want to listen to over and over again outside the game.  It’s a perfect mood setter and keeps pushing you forward.  The sound effects are also well done.  Everything sounds just as you’d expect, with my favorite being the sound that plays when a character goes from happy to sad.  It’s the perfect piece of noise to convey the emotion.  I know that sounds corny when talking about a one second computer bleep, but you’ll know what I mean when you hear it.

VVVVVV is a treasure of a game that needs to be played to fully understand what makes it so special.  The 3DS is the perfect platform for this type of game and the eShop is the perfect place to sell it.  From the nostalgia-inducing 8-bit style graphics to the amazing soundtrack to the fun levels and extras, this is one that you should do yourself a favor and download.



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Author: Shaun Zimmerman View all posts by
Still waiting for the Commodore 128... Find me on Twitter @Zimm108