The Humble Indie Bundle gives you the opportunity to pay what you want for a set of highly-rated indie games. You can choose how much to pay and also how that money will be distributed among developers and charity. It’s a great way to pick up some games for a good cause and if you’re not really a PC or an indie gamer unlike some people then it’s also a great way to discover some gems that you probably wouldn’t have picked up.
Out of the 14 games (hooray!) I got with Humble Bundle 3 (some of those came as a bonus) VVVVVV has been the one taking up the most of my time. It’s also the one that’s taking up most of my sanity.
VVVVVV revolves around a cute little character running around environments trying to find the rest of his crew after their spaceship crashed. Viridian, as he’s called, has the ability to flip gravity. One press of a button and he ‘falls’ to stand upside-down on the ceiling, another press and he ‘falls’ back down to stand on the floor. Each screen is a little platformer puzzle where the player has to cleverly time action-button presses to flip little Viridian and avoid pitfalls, needles, monsters etc. Simple, no?
The concept is simple but some of the screens are such bastards. VVVVVV is one of those games that offers you a staggering ‘just one more go’ challenge that will push you to the very limits of your patience. Your timing must be precise, your eyes must be sharp and your determination must be rock solid. However, VVVVVV is sugar-coated with cheerful pixel graphics and groovy chiptune music. Restarts are instant, checkpointing is mercifully frequent and lives are infinite so one go immediately turns into several hundred. The first 100 times you die, and you’ll probably clock 100 deaths in less than five minutes, you say, “oh no!” with a happy smile and then carry on. The next 100 times, you start to wonder why you don’t just save and quit. The next 50 times, you wonder whether it’s possible to solve this particular puzzle. The next 50 times, you’ll curse your lack of lightning reflexes and spot-on timing. The next 50 times, you’ll feel as if the bouncy music and Viridian’s ever-grinning face are MOCKING YOU. The more times you try, the likelihood of you selling your soul to get to the next checkpoint increases by 0.2%.
The other game I’ve had this experience with most recently is Trials HD. It got to the point where I accepted that there was just no way that I would ever be good enough to make it past that little hurdle, that row of explosives or that ridiculous tyre. I quit and passed it on to my boyfriend, who spent hours obsessively trying to complete a track. Other people on Xbox Live had somehow managed to complete the track in 30 seconds while he’d probably been at it for three hours and only successfully made the first checkpoint. Sadly for him, Trials Evolution is coming soon to cement the feeling of frustrated failure.
Despite quickly giving up on Trials, I can’t quite give up on VVVVVV. Some people love the challenge. No gnashed teeth, no sufficient reward, after all, but I’m not sure how much more I can take. VVVVVV is so adorable and I totally want Viridian to find all the rest of his crew, but the game seems to require superhuman powers that are not in my possession or at least a padded room to play it in. It’s some kind of cruel joke. Time to go back to playing Dragon Age 2… on Casual.