nintendo’s recent debut of a weekly discounted game in the 3DS’s eshop has definitely had an effect on my wallet. only in its third week, i’m already 3 for 3, and i’ve been pretty happy with my purchases so far.
the first game they featured was vvvvvv (aka the letter v six times, aka v’s, a platformer with a distinctly retro (specificially atari) aesthetic but a modern gameplay core. the game’s main hook is that in lieu of a jump button the default action is to flip gravity so that, for example, in order to cross a pit of spikes you move from floor to ceiling and back again. the game, like some other notable modern platformers such as super meat boy, offers a stiff challenge but offsets it by providing unlimited lives, i.e. attempts. even though most of the challenges are contained within a single screen, the game is grouped into levels and includes a metroidvania-esque traversal of a map that keeps a nice sense of momentum as you navigate from room to room. the game also offers up occasional respites from the single-screen challenges, often in the form of “escort mission”-like sections where you have to also take into account the movements of your rescuee. as with most escort missions these sections account for the more tedious parts of the game, but they fulfill their purpose of varying the pacing.
the game has gotten a lot of good press, and it’s certainly polished and very well put together, especially considering it’s an indie release (although i agree that the general platforming physics are a tad on the slippery/loose side). personally, though, i’ve found that i’m not a big fan of this type of modern platformer, where, by providing an unlimited number of attempts, the creators feel they have free license to ratchet up the difficulty to absurd levels of try-and-die gameplay that require pixel-perfect levels of precision. as i’ve mentioned in the past, try-and-die gameplay is my absolute least favorite type of gameplay, and there’s a palpable difference between gradually increasing your skills over the course of a game vs. simply memorizing how to get through a particular area. the game does keep a count of the number of lives used overall when you finish it, but in that case memorization just becomes even more emphasized since you end up building up a lot of long-term memorization rather than just short-term.
although the game only takes a couple of hours to beat, it offers more gameplay in the form of “shiny tokens” to collect, time attacks, achievements, as well as quite a lot of user-created stages. by the time i finished the game (all in one sitting, incidentally), i’d had enough gravity-flipping action and was happy to put this aside indefinitely. it will be interesting to see how this compares to other similarly “challenging” platformers, but from this experience it’s a design aesthetic that i’m going to be highly wary of in the future.
vvvvvview these vvvvvv links:
– official site
– page at steam
– review at nintendolife.com
– FAQ for the PC version, at gamefaqs: includes all the dialogue
– the totally retro soundtrack to the game is pretty catchy. you can find out more about it at the artist, souleye’s, website here
– entry at wikipedia