Every once and a while, Laura and I will play video games separately. This could be the result of so many great games being available on multiple platforms. It could also be due to the fact that we only have one nice television to play games on at GIMMGP Headquarters. So when one of us is playing a game, the other has to sit and watch quietly (read: find something else to do). Regardless, we want to share our respective experiences with you, the reader, and so we now present a new category: Chip and Laura’s Double Game Review Fun Time!
This two-headed review, Laura and I each played interesting games that could be categorized as, “puzzle platformers.” Laura journeyed through the very “Ikaruga-esque” title Outland for the Playstation 3, while I died like a fiend in the 3DS version of VVVVVV (or “V Times Six” as it is lovingly referred to on the Internets). Please to be enjoying!
When I was younger, I seemed to have all the time in the world to dedicate to video games. I can remember long afternoons spent with my brother trying to beat all sorts of insanely difficult platforming titles on the Nintendo Entertainment System. As I have mentioned before, the only real way to make any progress in these old games was to just slog through numerous charater deaths, thus improving your skills at each game (mainly at dodging small birds in front of bottomless pits). As an adult though, wasting my time playing a frustrating part in a video game does not sound like a productive use of an afternoon(or any time of day, for that matter). These days, I will probably quit playing a game after the 10-20 death count range (and normally yell something like, “Forget this broken piece of crap!”). So how is it that a little download title with an odd name kept me playing well into the multiple hundreds of deaths, all while having tons of fun?
VVVVVV provides the player with a challenge that never seems impossible to overcome. While there are several moments that can drive one up the wall (or ceiling, HA!), there is a flow that allows the player’s skills to improve at a reasonable rate with the game’s difficulty. So even though there were rooms in VVVVVV where I died a few times (read: a crap-load), I never felt so frustrated that I wanted to stop playing. The mechanic of changing gravity’s pull on your intrepid space captain was also a very interesting and fresh change to the precision jumping required of most platforming titles.
A special note about the visuals and sounds of VVVVVV must be made (as both of them are totally awesome). The choice to design the game to look like a classic Nintendo/Atari game added to the overall retro feel of this title. Even though the main character, Captain Viridian, was nothing more than a plump stick figure, I felt compelled to search for his lost crew every time his little smiley face turned into a frown. The music (which I am jamming to as I write this article) is an amazing example of how less can be more. Using only the bleeps and boops of older games, the composer has made a soundtrack with great depth that adds to the atmosphere of the game.
Overall, I highly recommend this game, and if you die a lot at it, don’t beat yourself up. After all, I died 909 times before I finished it (thanks, in-game death counter).
I don’t know why nobody told me about this game before. I don’t know why nobody else even seems to know about this game.
Outland is a download title for both Xbox and PS3. It costs about $10 and is worth everypenny . The story is very basic but unimportant. This is a game that is meant to be fun. It’s like a bunch of really good games got together and had a baby. Not like when two pretty people have an ugly baby, but like when two people have a pretty baby that also happens to do well in school. It’s surprising how all the elements come together so well. Everyone will tell you “It’s like … except …”, but no one will tell you that’s a bad thing.
Visually it looks a lot like Limbo (once it grew up and stopped writing embarrassing existentialist poetry). The foreground and characters are shadowy save for any details designating color. This allows the colorful multi-layered backgrounds to really stand out. Every l I cannot express to you how much I adore the aesthetic of this game. It’s simple yet incredibly detailed.
It plays like Castlevania or Metroid (or so I’m told). World exploration is awesome and fun and intuitive and challenging. The different skills you unlock as you progress through the game allow you to access parts of the world that were previous unavailable, which is a clever way of extending the novelty. And the gameplay is all incredibly smooth. Remarkably so. Once you understand a level you can breeze right through it.
There is truly only one fault that I would like to call out about this game:
NO MIDBOSS CHECKPOINTS
My kingdom for a midboss checkpoint! There is nothing more frustrating spending 20 minutes chasing some stupid monster down a hole, only to die before you can deliver the final killing blow. Then having to start all over from the very beginning. My agonized sounds of fury could be heard for miles. My pride only further wounded by the fact that it took me two hours of replaying one boss battle, only to hand the controller over to Chip who beat the damn thing on his first attempt at playing the game.
Long story short, if you are looking for a new download title for xbox or ps3: Outland.
It’s $10, you are supporting an independent developer, and you can take all the credit for the parts your boyfriend played for you. It’s really just a win-win for everyone.