Minimal design, maximal fun. VVVVVV was originally released as a Flash game in 2010, and since then it’s been ported to everything under the sun. I remember playing and loving the 3DS release years back. And I’m happy to report that the game is as good as ever on the Switch. In fact, this might be the best version yet.
VVVVVV is a game that embraces minimalism to its core. The game would most likely be classified as a platformer, despite the fact that you can’t jump. You can move to the left and right, and press a button (A, B, or Y) to flip gravity. And that’s about it. Acceleration is instantaneous, so the controls feel extremely snappy and responsive. You can also check your map at any time with L or R, and press X to interact with certain objects.
The game begins with an explosion, and your character and his crew crash-land into a strange pocket dimension. After beating the first level and rescuing your first crewmate, you are free to explore the entire game’s world. You have 4 more crewmates to rescue, and each is tucked away at the end of another level. These can be complete in any order and must be found by exploring the dimension. In addition, there are 20 trinkets to collect across the stages and throughout the map. Completing everything in the main game took me about 2 hours.
Yes, the game is short. Painfully so. But don’t pass on the game just because of this. The game is incredibly compelling, and something that every gamer should experience. Simply put, it’s an essential Indie game. And this comes down to how brilliantly designed everything, and I mean everything about this game truly is. The “overworld”, if you can call it that, strikes a perfect balance between wide open areas, and tight corridors that lead to secrets. And once you find the entrance to another level, things get even better. The game will introduce a new idea, and then play with it and twist it to its satisfying conclusion. Off the beaten path are even more trinkets, some of which are devilishly difficult to obtain. But the frequent checkpoints and the ability to continue without delay make it easy to tackle a problem again and again, until you finally triumph and make it through. And the top-notch music and sound effects keep your ears happy while you do it.
Once you’ve finished the game, there’s still more to do. There’s a Gravitron mini-game that begs you to come back to chase high scores, and a trophy room that taunts you to beat the game with fewer deaths. Time Trial mode invites you to perfect your runs through each stage, and for true masochists, there’s even a mode that challenges you to beat the game with 0 deaths. (For reference, I died 624 times.) If that’s not enough, there are over 15 user created levels ranging from delightful to devastatingly difficult. Some of these are entire new campaigns with multiple levels, and they’re all worth a look.
What’s new in the Switch release? Not much. There’s an exclusive 2-player mode that is surprisingly well-implemented. And the Switch version runs at 60fps, which is twice the framerate of other versions… but honestly, it’s difficult to tell in a game that’s this graphically simple. At the very least, it makes the controls just that much more responsive. It’s also worth it to note the game’s accessibility features. This includes the option to slow down the game, or simply make your character invincible. I personally recommend trying to get everything without using these features, but it may not be possible for every player.
VVVVVV is an Indie gem, with incredibly good level design, a minimalist retro aesthetic, and fantastic tunes. The game may not last long, but the bonus user-submitted worlds mean you are getting some bang for your buck. If you’ve played VVVVVV before, there’s not much new to see here, but if you haven’t, the multiplayer and 60fps framerate make the Switch version the best option.
- Just plain fun
- Masterpiece of game design
- Timeless retro audiovisual vibes
- It’s over too soon
- That one stupid part that killed me too many times (you know the one)
Soup Verdict: The serving size may be small, but this soup is to die for!
A code was provided by Nicalis for the purposes of this review.