It was the Veni Vidi Vici bit that did it for me. I bought VVVVVV sight unseen, on Jimaroid’s recommendation, and for a while was reasonably entertained by it. Nice gravity flipping mechanic, brutally difficult in places, a graphical style designed to evoke warm nostalgic feelings in anyone with retro leanings.
I persevered with it, I got through that last hateful bit of the annoying escort mission only after leaving it for a while and working out how to do it later on when I was falling asleep (always a good idea, that – if your conscious brain can’t crack it, leave it to the unconscious bit for a while and sooner or later it’ll come up with the goods), I opened up most of the map, found the giant elephant, died hundreds of times, did the vertically scrolling bit, and eventually got to the Veni Vidi Vici bit, which neatly crams everything I dislike about VVVVVV into one section.
Yeah, I know, you’ve probably done it. Well done you. I haven’t. Firstly, the nearest save point is quite a hike away. Secondly, it kills you over and over and over and over and over again until you learn by heart the exact sequence of key presses you need to fall up to the top of the seven-screen tunnel of spiky things, reverse gravity as soon as you hit the vanishing platform and then make it safely to the bottom again. It’s not about skill, it’s not about reactions, it’s about learning by rote while being called a fucking idiot.
Thirdly… Tell the truth, there isn’t a thirdly. It’s all about the secondly, and after about a billion attempts (whereby I’ve managed to get just over halfway through it and just know that getting the rest of the way is likely to require another billion attempts, and that when I do finally make it safely back down I’ll land on the wrong side of the stupid little block that’s the whole reason for this tortuous path) I just can’t be bothered any more.
I might be more inclined to stick with it if VVVVVV wasn’t so doggedly trying to be retro, but y’know, with a modern twist. The character movement’s awful, and it’s meant to be like that, but I can’t understand why you’d want it to be like that; it’s like it’s trying to ape a type of C64 game that never really existed, and I think I may have been expecting it to be something in the style of Exile with bells on, but instead I got a stripped down Jet Set Willy with a gravity switch rather than a jump button.
It has a few enjoyable set pieces, but a lot of filler in between, and I’ve reached that point where the only obvious thing to do (apart from blind trinket hunting – for pity’s sake, mark the fucking things on the map when I’ve missed them so I have a vague idea what I’m looking for) is the bit that I’m really not going to waste any more time on.
Nice try, some nice touches, but VVVVVV just doesn’t do it for me; you might love the rough and ready Interceptor Micro’s feel, but I kind of thought that we’d spent a quarter of a century getting away from that sort of thing for a bloody good reason. A bit more polish next time, please, and I’ll be checking out the demo before paying up.