When VVVVVV burst onto the indie scene in 2010, it was immediately lauded for its simple, addictive gameplay and unique vector visual style. After enjoying quite a bit of success on PC and Mac over the past two years, the game is now making an appearance on a dedicated game system for the first time via Nintendo's 3DS eShop. While it's received a fresh coat of 3D paint and some additional levels, it's the enjoyable gameplay that still makes it shine.
Unlike traditional platformers, there's no jump button in VVVVVV. Instead, you manoeuvre around the various platforms and ledges by reversing gravity. One press of the action button and you'll go from the floor to the ceiling. You'll soon find that this gravity switch will be your key to navigating through the game's constant barrage of platforming challenges.
In the beginning, you'll find yourself alone and in search of your companions. You have to traverse a lot of ground in order to locate them all, but thankfully you'll have a map on the bottom screen to help you out. As you complete levels, you're given access to warp zones that allow you to reach previous areas with ease.
While many of your challenges will come in the form of ledges and spikes, there are plenty of enemies, moving platforms and areas that feature auto scrolling. Having just the one action button to control gravity might make the adventure seem overly simplistic, but you'll soon find that combined with danger it make for quite a tricky experience.
Once you've gone through the main adventure, you'll open up a series of additional playing modes. If you find the adventure too challenging, you can always take the easy way out and just use a menu option that will allow you to unlock these modes. Many of these bonus modes feature remixed ways to play the main game. Time Trial mode allows you to take on the various sections of the game to see how quickly you can beat them. Then there's the hardcore No Death mode, which pits you in a quest to see how far into the adventure you can get before dying. And as if all of these extras weren't enough, there are even an additional 18 player-created levels to tackle, some downright brutal in challenge.
It's worth noting that the bonus Flip mode doesn't seem to be working properly currently: when it's enabled, all of the game modes display as blank screens. It's obviously a bug of some sort, so you won't be able to play this mode unless a fix is released, sadly. (Update: This issue was thankfully resolved in March 2012).
Original developer Terry Cavanaugh clearly put plenty of time and thought into creating such an easy and intuitive control scheme, not to mention surrounding it all with some amazing level designs. It's the kind of game that's extremely easy to pick up, yet hard to stop playing.
There will probably be those who criticise the simple vector-based visuals, but they certainly give the game a unique look that should definitely appeal to those who enjoyed playing some of the old arcade and Commodore 64-era games. The added depth of the 3D and the animated backdrops give the game a few nice flashy moments, but in truth, you couldn't ask for a more interesting visual presentation for a game as streamlined as this one.
Considering the game's old-school look and feel, it comes as no surprise to see the developer inject a nice dose of classic chip tune music to go along with it. Those who've yet to play the game will likely be quite impressed with how melodic and catchy the majority of the tracks are. It's also nice how the sound effects are rather subtle, thus not taking away from the impressive musical score playing in the background.
VVVVVV might not have the usual visual flash we've come to expect from games in recent years, but that doesn't mean it's not every bit as much fun to play. It's hard to believe that such a simple concept as flipping gravity can prove to be so enthralling, but given the game's incredibly diverse level designs, it's no wonder it's so difficult to put down. Whether you've played the game before or not, you owe it to yourself to experience another great addition to the 3DS eShop library.