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
Nice! I just finished playing this on my Mac. I didn’t even realize they had a 3DS release.
I hear you on the differences between classic platformers and their modern counterparts in terms of risk/reward profiles. Personally, I think “lives” are unneeded in video games, and they’ve begun to feel vestigial in the Mario games. This game was probably overly generous with its checkpoints, but they actually had some interesting puzzles where to get certain tokens you had to avoid checkpoints. I like this style of gaming because you get to choose how difficult you want it to be. I managed to snag 15 tokens but I don’t think I’ll be going for the last five, which are just obscenely tough to get.
Soundtrack was by far the best part of the game for me. You should definitely try Meat Boy and Splosion Man and Rayman Origins! IMO it’s like a new golden age of platformers.
not sure how much i’ll like _meat boy_ given the bit that i’ve played of it, but somehow i can’t help but feel that there’s still life in the ol’ classic-style platformer yet (despite the staleness that’s set into the 2-D _mario_ series). will def. be checking out the _rayman_ series soon.
I played VVVVV on PC back when it was in one of the Humble Indy Bundles. Seriously fun game, really great mechanics. The music really got annoying for me though, even though I generally like retro style music. For some reason it just killed me.
have you played _antipole_? it has a similar mechanic but from what i’ve played i think i would like the pacing better (less trial-and-error deaths).
I have not, but I’ll have to check it out now that you’ve called my attention to it.
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