Jun 12, 2014

At last, Terry Cavanagh’s VVVVVV, the game he was known for before the multi-platform hit Super Hexagon, has finally come to mobile. And though it may be an ultra-challenging platformer that would seem like an odd fit for touchscreens, it works incredibly well.

VVVVVV puts players in control of Captain Viridian, who can do two things: walk along the ground and reverse gravity, which becomes the way to move around. There’s no jumping – and there’s one moment in particular that will make players wish they had a jump button – so mastering how the gravity-flipping works is key. Learning how to move in mid-air, timing to move between obstacles, moving between different screens, this game will put players to the test. Thankfully, it’s an open-world game and non-linear. There are no powers of any sort to collect, as in a Metroidvania-type game, so any part of the game world can be explored (though there are certain sections that pop up as certain milestones are reached) at any time. The only thing holding the player back is skill.

VVVVVV Review 5

The big concern with VVVVVV on mobile had to be the touchscreen question. Namely, given that this is a game where precision is necessary, would it prove to just be extremely frustrating to play? I won’t lie, there are some times where I feel like the touch controls made me move too little or too far. But the game is also extremely forgiving: checkpoints are frequent, and death is such a natural part of the experience that really, any death for being slightly inaccurate is just going to feel like every other death for screwing up the timing. But the touchscreen controls work incredibly well, otherwise, to where the game feels quite playable with them. I don’t expect anyone to be doing any no-death runs or world-record speedruns on the mobile version, but I know that the things which make VVVVVV great will get across. Plus, hey, there’s gamepad support.

And VVVVVV is great because it’s such a skill game that also is player-friendly. There are few artificial barriers, and any challenge is innately conquerable through skilled play alone. It can be frustrating to not be good enough, but with practice, anything is possible. VVVVVV is a rare breed in this sense: so many games block off players through artificial barriers, needing an item of some sort to get past, and VVVVVV instead gives players all they need to survive right from the beginning.

VVVVVV Review 4

The first playthrough of VVVVVV may take about 3-4 hours depending on how good one is and how comfortable the controls are, but the challenge makes for an extremely rewarding experience. There’s 20 trinkets to collect throughout the world, which serve as real tests of skill to collect. As well, there’s various time trials, the Super Gravitron mini-game (also available as a separate app) and a variety of player worlds to explore, so VVVVVV can last a long time. It’s one of my favorite platforming games of the modern era, being so wonderfully-designed. For those who can handle touchscreen controls, this is a wonderful game to have on the go. If touchscreen controls are a dealbreaker, there’s gamepad support, an Ouya version, and of course the versions for PC platforms, 3DS, and upcoming the Vita. Play this game on some format!

VVVVVV Review Rundown

Graphics/Sound - Commodore 64 visual aesthetic, the game is intentionally low-resolution but does appear a bit blurry due to upscaling. The soundtrack by Souleye is wonderful.
Controls - You will die because of the innate inaccuracy of touch controls a few times, but you'll die a lot anyways, don't worry about it. Praise gamepad support, though.
Gameplay - Just marvelously-designed. The levels make full use of the gravity-flipping mechanic, and having everything necessary to succeed right away is both a blessing and a curse.
Replay Value - The main game is a rewarding several hours, with custom levels and time trials to come back to.
Overall - A modern platforming classic is still great on mobile.

Download: App available at the Google Play Store »

Carter Dotson
Carter Dotson, editor of Android Rundown, has been covering Android since late 2010, and the mobile industry as a whole since 2009. Originally from Texas, he has recently moved to Chicago. He loves both iOS and Android for what they are - we can all get along!
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