Platformers are a genre of games that have offered great fun over the years. But one element to them remains consistent; the ability to jump. You need this move to get through most platformers but what if that move was removed? In the game VVVVVV, you cannot jump. At all. This means the only means of getting around is moving left/right and playing with gravity. With this design focus established and you having a large world to explore, does this game offer a strong platforming experience on the PS Vita?
Let’s go into space and explore the hostile world of VVVVVV together to find out!
You play as a commander named Captain Viridian, who has five people joining him on exploring the great beyond. But a freak accident happens that warps not only himself but his entire crew across a hostile planet. So your goal is after finding your footing, is exploring the large world to save your buddies. What makes the story work is that it is both linear in the sense that narrative has a clear beginning and ending, but you can learn more about the world by exploring.
Various parts of the world have stations where you can interact with them to learn more about the game world. These are interesting, as they give further insight on the world within the game. Another aspect of the games story telling is the levels themselves, as they have various names and objects to them. The overall story here is far from the strongest but it works, giving you motivation to play through the games many levels.
Gameplay & Design
The game is split up into various sections on the main map but each area has unique levels to explore. Each section has one of your five crew members and objects to collect. This gives a clear objective to complete while exploring the many levels. But as for the levels themselves, they are hard. Quite hard in fact, and that is from your inability to jump. The only thing your character can do is switch gravity. You would think this limits level design but it fact, only opens it up.
Levels are built to work with this handicap and it leads to creative gimmicks being part of the level. Vanishing platforms turn into trigger points telling the player ‘Switch Gravity at X point’, special pillars switch your gravity automatically, some platforms push you forward/backward; the many level gimmicks offer a lot of fun design elements. This allows the game to feel challenging and fun despite the inability to jump.
You might be wondering about the difficulty, but thankfully despite the game being very challenging, you have no life system. Every time you die, you re-spawn at one of the games many checkpoints. This makes the hard difficulty a non-issue, ensuring you continue playing through the game despite challenges being thrown at you consistently. Getting your way across the games large map is also easy to do; simply pressing the R button brings it up. So despite a high level of challenge and the unique gimmick of not jumping, this game is a strong experience on a core gameplay and design level.
VVVVVV has a decent amount of content, with the high difficult making the game last from five too six hours in length. But you can get even more out of the game from collecting every object (out of 20) in the games various levels. You also have a few trophies to collect, with each one offering a nice challenge to complete.
I love games with pixel art and VVVVVV is a looker on the PS Vita. While the game is not full screen like many other Vita titles, the simple art style pops off the screen and the animations of your main character look great. It has a simple NES-like charm to the entire visual style that makes it look great. Levels are color themed and I like the usage of color throughout the game. It sticks out against the mostly black background of space, giving every location a sense of identity.
Music is where VVVVVV shines the brightest however, with a soundtrack that is both catchy and addicting to listen too. It’s musical score feels like something ripped out of a Mega Man game, and that music style matches with the levels you explore. If anything, the music will keep you sane as you play through the harder levels this game has to offer.
Thanks to the games simple art direction, it is able to run at a consistent frame rate and runs at native resolution on the PS Vita. So overall, this game is a great looking and sounding experience.
Overall Score – 9 out of 10
+Strong level design
+Difficulty that is fair while challenging
+Decent replay value
+Story with fun dialog
-Difficulty might be frustrating at points
VVVVVV is a strong game that does a lot right. It is a challenging experience but one that is inviting to play with simple controls, strong 8-bit visuals and great level design. I highly recommend this game to any Vita owner who wants a fun challenge to overcome. It looks simple but it has a lot of hidden depth through engaging gameplay.
Publisher: Nicalis, Inc
Developer: Terry Cavanagh Games
Format: Digital Only
File Size: 82MB