It's hard to believe that it's been four years since Terry Cavanaugh's VVVVVV was first released, but here we are in 2014 with an iOS port. While a lot of people would be quick to note that due to its precision nature, the mobile platform wouldn't be conducive to pixel-perfect jumping , I'm pleased to say that after playing it -- they're wrong. VVVVVV [$2.99] on iOS is a wonderful port-job, and newcomers and veterans alike will be able to enjoy it.

For the most part, the game is the exact same as it was before. After our hero Captain Viridian's ship crash-lands in an uncharted realm, it's up to him to flip his way through a series of levels to rescue his crew. This is done by way of a gigantic hub world with connecting stages, filled to the brim with secret nooks, crannies, and collectibles. Think Metroid and you'll have an idea of what to expect.

If you've never played VVVVVV before, the concept is simple, because you really only have one action outside of left and right movement -- flipping. By wielding the power of this new mysterious world, the Captain can simply press a button (in this case, the right side of the screen by default) to flip vertically. You'll use this to "jump" across platforms (I say that in quotes because you can't actually jump), and make your way through each level. It's all wonderfully executed, and very easy to pick up. If you're so inclined there are three control options available to you, including a virtual d-pad, so there should be something for everyone. Though, MFi controller support in the future would be ideal.

Although the hub (and by proxy, exploration) is a major focus of the game, most of your time will be spent in modules, dealing with yet another type of hazard or concept. Just when VVVVVV is starting to get stale, Cavanaugh throws another idea at you, forcing you to rethink the entire way you play the game. Whether it's a series of spike traps or a room that constantly forces you to flip up and down and dodge projectiles, you're always left guessing as to what's coming next. It truly is a masterwork of design, because no two areas of VVVVVV feel the same -- both visually and mechanically.

photo 1

One of the concessions Cavanaugh grants however is the very forgiving checkpoint system. Nearly every 30 seconds (or less), there's another checkpoint for you to continue from -- so if you just made it through a difficult section, you'll be able to continue right where you left off upon death. This system is preserved for the iOS version, and it even auto-saves after each point -- making it perfect for quick plays on public transportation and the like.

The music is another standout element, and it meshes perfectly with the ZX Spectrum inspired art. It evokes a whimsical feeling of the 80s while staying true to the era in question -- no joke, I find myself going out of my way to listen to many of the tunes on occasion. A warning even comes up when you start stating to wear headphones for the best experience, and I heartily recommend doing so.

photo 3

If you're not going for all the secrets, VVVVVV is a brisk experience that will last you a few hours, making it a natural fit for mobile devices.  You'll also get 17 custom-picked user created levels, some of which are done by Cavanaugh himself, and some from other famed indie developers. This also opens things up for future updates with more levels, although nothing has been announced yet.

Look, VVVVVV is great on pretty much every platform it's been released on. But with the low price of the mobile version combined with the sheer portability, it's a no-brainer. I've purchased multiple copies of VVVVVV over the years, and I'd happily buy more. If you're curious as to how the game controls on iOS, check out Super Gravitron [Free] for free.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Maglor

      \\ Λ_Λ
       \( 'ㅅ' ) That ☆☆☆☆☆ Stars!!!
        > ⌒ヽ
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       レ ノ   ヽ_つ
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     ( (ヽ
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    ノ )  Lノ

    • Eli Hodapp


      • paulkane

        Is this Jared's kitty?

  • worldcitizen1919

    Thought you'd give it 5 stars. I personally think the era of 16 bit gaming is over and devs use the platform to limit production costs increasing profits. If we settle for bad quality graphics that's what we'll get. The game may be great but it's a shame the graphics.

    • cobbyco

      lol, 16-bit.

    • Glorkbot

      The graphics are very attractive. It's a style. No one goes to look at a mosaic in a museum somewhere and says "it's a shame about the graphics."

      • Eli Hodapp

        Have you SEEN how pixelated A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is when you look at it up close?!

      • Prinado

        Snap out of it Cameron!

      • worldcitizen1919

        Mosaic is art pixelated is not. Each to his own. I've played enough dos games. It's the age of 3d move on guys.

      • Bob

        lol, "the age of 3D." Like 3D represents some new high-water mark of gaming. There's a ton of 3D games that I think are way uglier and much less fun to play than retro-styled games like this.

      • BoonyTuesday

        It's a style of someone who can't do pixel art, just like stick figures are the style of someone you can't draw.

      • Glorkbot

        If you can draw a stick figure, then you can draw.

      • BoonyTuesday

        Technically, not aesthetically.

    • Jared Nelson

      You must HATE oil painting. That medium is, like, HUNDREDS of years old and junk.

      • worldcitizen1919

        That's just my point of view. I don't like games with pixelated graphics.

      • bilboad

        I'm not too fond of pixel graphics either. If the game is otherwise fun I'll still play it, but it's not a plus for me like it is for some people. However your initial post goes farther than just saying you don't like it, you actually say people who like this game are "settling for bad graphics", and that the graphics are a shame. It seems a bit narrow minded to not be able to see that a lot of people do like this visual style, so saying it's objectively bad is a bit inaccurate.

      • Stormourner

        then I shall pixel the heck out of you 😉

      • Foghorn Irrascible

        And that's your choice. And your loss. I prefer gameplay first, it's a bonus if it looks all 3D and shiny, but far from required.

    • Stormourner

      you no like 16bits
      16bits no likes you

      • BoonyTuesday

        He was probably laughing that it's more 8-bit than 16-bit style of graphics.

    • vj4rawr2

      I agree. It's just an excuse to keep down production costs. Everything doesn't have to be done in 3D but hand drawn art (like the Kingdom Rush games) looks beautiful. Pixel art looks cheap. Anything done with pixels could be done with a professional graphic artist if the developers shelled out a few thousand bucks.

      • Billy Ocean

        as an artist i can tell you that often it is much easier and cheaper to use vector-based art in animations and interactive environments. i also happen to feel the opposite of what you said - vector based assets look cheap to me and pixelated stuff appeals to me. of course, assets can be beautiful using any method, depending on the vision and skill of those involved. i dont think that a blanket statement about production costs is appropriate since there are obviously scores of people passionate about the pixelated aesthetic.

      • Bob

        totally agree. I think the art in games like Kingdom Rush often looks like it comes from some pre-fab game design app. I really love a game like Canabalt or VVVVVVVVV that does so much with so little...

      • vj4rawr2

        Ok. So you're an artist, yet you think art in video games looks cheap and prefer pixels. Good luck with that career.

      • Bob

        LOL, Picasso says hi...

      • thiagovscoelho

        Well, Atari 2600 Battlezone does look better than the arcade one. It has colors!

      • Design by Adrian

        You'd be surprised how hard it is to design proper pixel art.

        I'm not saying that VVVVVV is the pinnacle of pixel art, but look at Final Fantasy VI as an example.

        It's a mix of making art with limited resources, and just putting the pixels together and still have a realistic image.

    • XperimentalZ Games

      I understand that this is not to everyone's liking and when you're a fan of an art style you'd wish to see more of it, though:
      1- There's an unlimited number of ways to draw a game, each of them would contribute differently to the emotion/experience. In this case, more would probably mean less.
      2- If a dev has a finite amount of time to put on a project, it can becomes a trade-off between visuals and gameplay/playable content, which means that users are not necessarily on the losing side.
      3- Alas, for most indies, 'revenues' would be a more appropriate word than 'profits'.
      4- Focusing on a mainstream is usually the worst that happens to video games, and it happens all the time. Diversity means renewal.

    • Christian Valentin

      Pixel art is an art style. Sure, it may be less time consuming than other aesthetics, but for many developers, it's an artistic choice. Would you criticize a artist for using pastels instead of paint?

      Either way, gameplay always comes first and that's where VVVVVV shines. Even if you can't appreciate the graphics, the gameplay is polished to a mirror shine, finely tuned, hard as hell, and just incredible fun.

  • Apricosomoso

    Daily "did you know this about Eli Hodapp" :
    Did you know Eli is scared of heights and spiders?

    • Eli Hodapp

      Neither of those things are true actually! I'm pretty indifferent to heights, and don't mind spiders because they eat other more annoying bugs!

    • Jared Nelson

      You must be confusing Eli with me.

      • paulkane

        Did Eli swipe your kitty?

  • Bewi

    Great game that pushes your patience and perseverance to the limits. Veni vidi vici ! Oh by the way isn't it Cavanagh instead of Cavanaugh ? 🙂

  • Luciano1084

    Love the game but the sliding left and right gesture is killing me... Literally and figuratively.. A left and right arrow would be a better alternative..

    • Jared Nelson

      There's an option for virtual left/right buttons if you pause the game and press "controls" in the left corner.

      • Luciano1084

        Your awesome, I'm an idiot... Thanks my friend

    • dewdropmagic

      The left and right arrow alternative by far my preferred option.

  • Jake7905

    While the game is worth 5 stars, this port seems closer to 4. It's hard to ignore the blurry, non-Retina, appearance of VVVVVV. The pixel art is great, but does it have to be out of focus?

    • Glorkbot

      What? Is that true? I like my pixels crisp and clear. What would be the point of making them any other way?

  • thiagovscoelho

    very vivacious videogame, veritably vertiginous venture

  • Intendro

    But is the level editor itself in this version?

  • ricardoquesada

    I like the Desktop version so much that I played it multiple times. The Desktop version is 5 stars for me, no doubt about it.
    But regarding the iOS port... I'm not sure. I like it, but the controls are
    not that great. And in a game like VVVVVV the controls are very
    important. Perhaps it is just me and I need to try a few more times, but
    the experience that I had with its controls were pretty bad. 3 out 5
    stars for me.
    I tested it on an iPhone 5S... perhaps the experience on the iPad is different.

  • Himmat Singh

    Well, funny you focus on the "port" aspect, cause if anything, this is no 5 star port. Good game and all, as we already know, but the port has two glaring issues.

    1) The poor blurry look on my Retina Mini. Mind you, I'm not even asking for Retina's not even 1024x768! The PC version is not like this.

    2) Performance issues. Not too often, but it does happen every now and again. The game just stutters and lags seemingly randomly, then stabilizes.

    Otherwise, I am fine with the controls and the game otherwise. Not out of the world brilliant like some proclaim, but decent enough nonetheless.

  • MichaelMoustache Conti

    I just finished this game and I loved it, I have never been this engrossed to finish an ios game, a must buy!!!

VVVVVV Reviewed by Chris Carter on . Rating: 5