VVVVVV Nintendo Switch review: Kids our age still bounce

Credit: Nicalis
Credit: Nicalis /

The latest entry in the “it’s on the Switch now” saga is VVVVVV, another pick up and put down indie seemingly made for the platform.

Developer: Terry Cavanagh
Publisher: Nicalis
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: November 17, 2017

That’s six V’s, if you’re trying to spell it right. The V’s are spikes; they’re the name of the dimension you’re stuck in; they’re the direction you’re going or trying to go or trying not to go. VVVVVV’s name, like many of its story elements, provokes more questions than it answers. But with or without explanations, those questions don’t matter. The puzzling fun of VVVVVV has little to do with the elephant in its rooms, and everything to do with its clever, gravity-flipping gameplay.

You play as Captain Viridian, a visually non-descript little spaceman who has been separated from his crew and his ship across Dimension VVVVVV. He must track down his crew members and bring them back to their stations across nine levels in order to escape with everyone’s lives. But both Viridian and his friends face a myriad of obstacles between themselves and the ship. Most of these are spike pits; some are enemies or other hazards. And no one knows how to jump in this platformer.

Credit: Nicalis /

Instead, Viridian can reverse his gravity and flip to the other side of the room at will, then proceed upside down. VVVVVV’s maze-like space world consists of room after room of gravity-flipping puzzles, almost all of which are guaranteed to kill you at least once on a first attempt. Pure platforming skill won’t get you far in this game. You’ll need to take your time and think through problems with moving platforms and enemies, strange wall layouts, bounce pads, and more in order to proceed.

There’s nothing new in the Switch version to entice those who have already finished [VVVVVV].

You’ll die a lot, but don’t worry. There’s almost always a checkpoint after each new, difficult task, making VVVVVV a game perfect for short bursts of play. If you get stuck, you can always explore a new path or just put the game up for a bit and return later. This capability also did wonders for my salt levels when encountering the game’s particularly rage-inducing challenges.

And the open-ended playstyle lends itself well to the Switch in particular. VVVVVV has been out on almost every platform you can name since its initial release in 2010, but it’s been at its strongest on handheld systems like the 3DS. Since each puzzle is a self-contained, repeatable mystery, I can quickly open the game, solve a few, and put it back down again without missing anything. It’s an ideal game to show off what the Switch does best–provide a gaming diversion for busy adults who can’t commit hours at a time, all the time, to finish a game. I didn’t beat VVVVVV in one or two sittings, despite its brevity. I played it in five to thirty minutes bursts over a long weekend, and it was great. And I was able to play it with a friend on the go–another advantage afforded by the platform.

Credit: Nicalis /

VVVVVV is fun, but it really is that painfully short–only about 5-6 hours for completionists or 2-3 hours just to beat. Even with the fun of multiplayer on the Switch, it’s just not a game you’ll get much out of, and there’s nothing new in the Switch version to entice those who have already finished it. Maybe that’s fine–ports are what they are. It’s just a touch disappointing, especially as VVVVVV releases around the same time as so many other great indie titles with more replay value or new features to attract the attention of those browsing the eShop for favorites to replay on the go. Then again, at $4.99, it’s one of the cheapest, enjoyable diversions on the Switch.

Almost eight years after its initial release, VVVVVV continues to prove that a platformer can stand on its own mechanics and doesn’t necessarily need fancy visuals, sound, or even a compelling story to be really darn fun. Though those who have seen it through before may roll their eyes and clamor for new content, the Nintendo Switch continues to be the best platform to experience quick, pick-up-and-play games like this for the very first time.

VVVVVV. 7. Eight years after its initial release, <em>VVVVVV</em> is still fun, still challenging, still weird, and still sadly short. There’s nothing new to see here if you’ve already beat the game, but as a cheap, quick pick-up-and-play title, <em>VVVVVV</em> has found a fitting home on the Switch eShop.. Terry Cavanagh.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.