VVVVVV

Officially released in 2010, Terry Cavanagh’s VVVVVV is an intelligently designed, 2D puzzle platformer that relies on your quick reactions and logic to explore and progress through a multitude of challenging levels. As Captain Viridian, it is your duty to relocate your missing crew members and fix your  spaceship after being thrown into an alternate dimension.

This is an incredibly simple game in theory – only relying on the use of the arrow keys, an action button and Enter – however, you must rely on your ability to flip vertically (i.e. walking on the ceiling) to navigate the ‘landscape’. This may seem an easy concept at first, but I guarantee that this game can – and will – make even the most hardcore gamer break down and cry with despair.

It is hard to explain what VVVVVV really contains behind its colourful, 2D exterior – think Super Meat Boy with less blood and more pixels, I would suppose – however, the main contrast lies in control sensitivity: whereas the former is famous for its incredibly tight movement response, VVVVVV is maybe a little bit too loose, resulting in many a frustrating death as your character oversteps a platform or slides into a spike. This system almost punishes you into learning how confident or cautious you can be within each area and rarely will you pass through flawlessly without having seen the layout before.

Despite its difficulty – which cheerfully ranges from casual to suicidal, VVVVVV rewards you with a huge amount of satisfaction for every small victory you achieve through its long, winding corridors and twisted, gravity-defying mazes. The graphics are refreshing and interesting (I could even say ‘cute’) and there is a constant atmosphere of light-hearted humour and positivity running throughout. Using numerous checkpoints and discovering larger teleporters within the map, it is easy to flick back and forth to explore, as well as to find the ‘artifacts’ strewn across each area – collecting set amounts will unlock different songs to listen to whilst playing.

Overall, this is a great game with a variety of different challenge modes and community created puzzles, which will definitely keep you entertained and forced to really apply logic and strategy within each section. I highly recommend VVVVVV to anybody who is looking for a higher difficulty and a fresh new take on gaming – a great addition to any collection, for a very low price.

Visit the website here (Nintendo 3DS downloads included)

Buy it from Steam here

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MARIO TENNIS OPEN

Back in 1995, Nintendo released a game featuring the characters from the Mushroom Kingdom: Mario Tennis. It has been an important landmark for Nintendo, especially since Mario Tennis 64 introduced the infamous Waluigi. Now, in 2012, Nintendo have decided to expand their 3DS’s game library by adding a new version called Mario Tennis Open.

The developers made sure that the lone player does not miss out on the fun by adding three types of games: Tournament, Exhibition and Special Games (minigames). These tournaments are pretty entertaining, and when you’re playing a 5 set match against the computer, a point away from winning the championship, the game gets pretty exciting. Exhibition features Singles and Doubles matches, which are always fun to play. And the minigames, although they’re hard, will surely deliver many hours of gameplay.

Also, there is a store which sells tons of items to dress up your Mii with, which is certainly a nice touch.

The game includes a fantastic multiplayer experience. Although the online multiplayer against random people is limited to 1 vs 1 matches, playing with a friend lets you have custom matches which have proven to be very fun. Also, you can play local multiplayer, which lets up to 4 players join the fun. However, if there are more than two people, you can only play Minigames, which honestly sucks. No doubles locally, people.

Mario Tennis Open has 16 playable characters, with different specialties such as Power (Bowser, Wario), Defense (Waluigi), Tricky (Boo, Bowser Jr.), Speed (Diddy Kong & Yoshi), Technique (Peach and Daisy) and All-around (Mario and Luigi). 12 of them are playable as soon as you start the game, but the others require you to play the minigames. Nintendo included a great innovation in this title; QR Code Scan Characters. Using the 3DS’ camera, you scan codes and unlock up to seven characters. The only downside? They’re all Yoshi. Yep, Nintendo decided to go the cheap route and give players 8 different colors of Yoshi. I mean, come on! Yoshi’s cool and all, but what about Dry Bones, Koopas, Shy Guys and other fantastic characters? Hopefully they’ll release more codes in the near future.

Let’s be honest: It’s a game for the 3DS and that means it has to have 3D. That’s one of the few problems this game has, the lack of it. Even though there’s a little, tiny bit of it, you can’t really see it. And, when you activate the gyroscope camera control (where you move the console itself to point where you want the ball to go at) there is none at all.

Now, what many people (including me) loved so much about Mario Tennis games was the powers that each character had. Open clearly lacks this, and tries to make up by adding some shots that will activate once you step on a small circle. This gives the game a new twist, as you’re trying to run towards these spots. Yet, the powers that each characters had were all representative of the franchise, and as a fan of this series, I think that the game just doesn’t feel right without them.

Another big thing that this game has missed was the Story Mode. The GameCube version has a pretty entertaining story, but apparently the developer (Camelot) decided it wasn’t necessary. Perhaps it’s because this is a handheld version, and they’re trying to be more like Mario Kart (which has no story at all).

If you’re a fan of the Mario Bros. Universe, this is a definite must buy. And if you’re not, and you don’t have many good games for your 3DS, this is a game to consider as well.