Super Gravitron Review

Super Gravitron Review

Jun 25, 2014

Alongside VVVVVV, Terry Cavanagh released Super Gravitron, a free version of a mode in VVVVVV. This game has some interest to it, particularly as it’s from the creator of Super Hexagon, but this game should be regarded more as an interesting free curiosity than as the next great high score game, which it is not meant to be.

When I beat VVVVVV on the 3DS a couple years ago, I thought “the only way this game is coming to mobile is if Terry Cavanagh just makes the Super Gravitron mode as an app,” and I was both wrong and right: wrong in that the dude was crazy enough to make the full game for mobile (and making it actually work pretty well!), but right in that the game is a good fit for mobile. It just involves moving left and right, bouncing between two wires that bounce Captain Viridian back to the other side. It’s possible to warp between the two sides, though this can make the ol’ Captain prone to spawning hazards.

SuperGravitron-3

This game is very hard. But so was Super Hexagon. But there’s a big difference in the difficulty of the two games. Super Hexagon is designed to be hard, but in a fair way. It presents an immense challenge, but there’s some predictability. This is a lot more chaotic: patterns of hazards come quite randomly, and my high score even after hundreds of sessions is still just 9 seconds. Of course, this does make the game highly replayable: it’s possible to play a lot in a few minutes. As well, the auto-respawning helps out a lot with getting back into games. There’s a second break, then it’s back to the action. Other games could take a lesson from this. Sadly, there’s no Google Play high scores, but there’s no ads or anything of the sort. This is just a free game, and it’s hard to complain about it too much. Plus, it has one of Souleye’s tracks from VVVVVV‘s wonderful soundtrack.

Essentially, this was meant as just a free toy of sorts, something that would fit on mobile, and it’s certainly entertaining enough, but it does show: even simple games usually have a lot of work put into them, and there can be a colossal difference between a fun toy, and a great game like Super Hexagon.

VVVVVV Review

VVVVVV Review

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!

Terry Cavanagh’s Gravity-Flipping Platformer VVVVVV Coming to Android in 2014

Terry Cavanagh’s Gravity-Flipping Platformer VVVVVV Coming to Android in 2014

Jan 8, 2014

Fan of Super Hexagon? Well, Terry Cavanagh made a great game before that, the Metroidvania-esque gravity-flipping platformer VVVVVV. The game has been on PCs and 3DS for a while now, but mobile devices have been left out in the cold. But not for much longer, as Cavanagh has confirmed on his blog that VVVVVV‘s mobile port will be finished in 2014 with release on Android and Ouya. No release date is known other than “this year.” Cavanagh’s blog has some screens of other nifty projects he’s working on, some of which could well make their way to mobile…

Bought Super Hexagon from Google Play? Why Hasn’t Terry Cavanagh Seen a Dime of it Yet?

Bought Super Hexagon from Google Play? Why Hasn’t Terry Cavanagh Seen a Dime of it Yet?

Jun 27, 2013

A rather worrying story about Google Play has come out from indie developer Terry Cavanagh: apparently he has yet to see a dime from his game Super Hexagon on Google Play. The game is available through the Amazon Appstore and has been sold through the Humble Bundle, so he has made some money off of it, but Google has yet to pay him – and they suspended his account after investigating the issue.

While he said earlier the game was not available due to this account suspension, the game appears to be available on the store currently, perhaps suggesting that the issue has been sorted out. However, the fact that a developer who has sold over 50,000 copies of an app on Android has issues with being paid months after an app’s release is worrying news. Hopefully it’s just a glitch in the system, but it’s a huge glitch, and this shouldn’t happen to other developers, especially those who may need the money they make from Google Play to stay in business to begin with.

Of course, it does at least serve as a reminder about Android: just because one store shuts you down doesn’t mean that it shuts down all revenue for developers, but it remains worrying that Google could have this huge of an oversight happen.

Update: Complain on Twitter, get problems solved. The system works.

Does Super Hexagon’s Nexus 7 Touch Response Delay Really Make a Difference?

Does Super Hexagon’s Nexus 7 Touch Response Delay Really Make a Difference?

Jan 22, 2013

Terry Cavanagh’s extremely challenging arcade game Super Hexagon was recently released. Notably, it has an issue with the Nexus 7, thanks to a hardware issue where recognition of a released touch input is slightly delayed. For most games, this is not a problem. For Super Hexagon, where lightning reflexes are necessary, this is a big deal. Well, at least in theory it is. In practice, is it an issue? I decided to put some rudimentary, un-scientific statistics work to the test.

After a short warm-up session, I played 20 rounds on Hexagonest on the Nexus 7, then 20 rounds on the Motorola Xoom (which does not suffer from this touch-release issue), then another 20 on the Nexus 7, and another 20 on the Xoom.

Here’s what my results found:
Nexus 7, round 1: avg. 9.58 seconds, max 29.3
Xoom, round 1: avg. 12.26 seconds, max 37.1
Nexus 7, round 2: avg. 12.16 seconds, max 27.29
Xoom, round 2: avg. 12.21 seconds, max 49.29

So, it appears I may have still needed some warming up – Super Hexagon’s harder difficulties require hours of practice to figure out how the patterns work and how the player needs to spin to survive them, and some acclimation is necessary. It seems as if the difference over time evens out on each platform. While the difference is noticeable, especially to a veteran of the game like myself, it may not make a big difference.

Except that the problem is that my high scores were achieved on the Xoom. And I felt way more confident on the Xoom, because I could make small adjustments if necessary. And really, Super Hexagon is about those outliers, trying to get the high score. So while my own errors are dooming me no matter what, it’s possible that the touch-release issue is hurting me at those all-important outliers. But then again, the game at its higher difficulties is so challenging that adding another layer of difficulty is like spitting into the ocean.

My verdict, taking into consideration the quantifiable evidence with my anecdotal experiences? Veterans of the game and those actively seeking high scores should stay away from the Nexus 7 version, as the delays will be frustrating. Otherwise, for casual players, it doesn’t make a huge difference. It’s still a difficult game no matter what it’s being played on.

Super Hexagon Review

Super Hexagon Review

Jan 21, 2013

I am enraged.

Furious. Angry. Disenfranchised. Infuriated.

Sad.

All these adjectives apply to me right now, and it’s all because of Super Hexagon from the dastardly Terry Cavanagh. This game took me places, and I figure it will be a long, long battle.

Super Hexagon is a psychedelic trip into the world of ever-closing and multiplying hexagons… lethal shapes that laughingly stifled my survival with their converging sides. To understand the game is to play it. Starting in the center of the grid, I got two controls which allowed me movement to either the left or right of a circular path by tapping. A never ending series of lines (which eventually move into the rough shape of a rough hexagon, with few means of egress) appear and start converging. Using the direction buttons, I had to dart to avoid touching the sides of the open hexagon.

The description is kind, but the action is intense. Simply put, Super Hexagon drove me batty — in a good way. With three levels (appropriately labeled Hard, Harder and Hardest to give an idea that the developer means business), I fought to live as long as I could, cruelly reminded by my best time which was re-flashed at the end. Super Hexagon somehow was able to pack in a lot of fun into a seamless, fun, and unassuming package.

The colors were perfect for this game, invoking a colorful mirage of Rorschach images in my mind’s eye. Colorful, ever-changing palettes added to the landscape, and melded well with the music.

The game is low on frills, but high on excitement. As I noted earlier, in today’s age of tense storylines and dreamy graphics, it’s tough to make something compelling, but for me, this was a great experience. The whiny, petulant part of me would have loved a simpler stage or two, but it is truly difficult not to appreciate it as-is.

Well done, Mr Cavanagh. I dislike you very, very much.

Indie Developer Terry Cavanagh Debuts on Android with Don’t Look Back and the Upcoming Super Hexagon

Noted indie developer Terry Cavanagh, most known in the gaming world for creating VVVVVV, is starting to release some of his games for Android. First is a short 2009 title called Don’t Look Back, a mysterious monochrome game that has players surviving tricky platforms and wild animals, for a purpose that seems unclear at first but unfolds throughout the game. The game is extremely challenging, and it isn’t helped by the tiny virtual buttons on the screen on high-resolution phones. It’s worth sticking with to experience it, and it’s got plenty of challenge along the way. It’s available for free from Google Play.

That’s really just the start, as Super Hexagon, his mobile revamp of Flash title Hexagon is making its way from iOS to Android. The game will support a limited but popular set of resolutions natively, as according to his tweets (which he later clarified to add in 1280×720 for the modern Galaxy line of phones), while the rest will scale. The game is an incredibly-challenging survival title that I rated 4.5 stars out of 5 on 148Apps. This is one to look forward to. No release date yet, but Terry Cavanagh works in Flash (and Don’t Look Back appears to have been a test release for Flash to Android) so it could be coming soon-ish once all the bugs are stamped out.