The Letter V, Six Times

VVVVVV thumbnailVVVVVV is at once utterly charming and controller-snappingly difficult.  Retro graphics, exquisitely responsive controls, a single gameplay mechanic and a pitch-perfect chiptune soundtrack come together to form one of my favourite games of all time.  Certainly, my 3DS has been used for little else.  Let’s talk completion and speed.

VVVVVV - Doing Things the Hard Way

Finishing the game is not actually that hard, but completion, getting all of the trinkets, is an exercise in patience, skill and calloused thumbs.  More than anything though, getting those trinkets is an exercise in dying, over and over and over.

In a recent post I mentioned that beating “Doing Things The Hard Way” in VVVVVV was one of my proudest video game moments, and to be honest, it still is.  Look at that monster on the right.  Look at that innocuous little block standing between the checkpoint and the shiny little trinket.  Look at the thing that killed me over 6,000 times.  Let me say that again.  Over six thousand deaths to cross that block.


Now to put my pride into perspective.


At the time I write this post, there is a video on the Speed Demos Archive, a single-segment run in 13 minutes 18 seconds.  Single-segment means they started and played from start to finish in one g, instead of using saves to break it into chunks they were happy with.  Below that is a single-segment 100% run in 17 minutes and 48 seconds.  Let that sink in for a moment, I know I had to.  Someone has done the entire game, “Doing Things The Hard Way” and all, in under 18 minutes, single-segment.  I can’t even imagine the level of skill and the frankly inhuman memory required to do that.  Jared ‘FieryBlizzard’ Klein, I’d shake your hand but I’m too busy averting my eyes in awed reverence.

For some more perspective on how good those runs are, a player with the handle ‘masterjunhas’ done a tool-assisted speedrun in 12 minutes 33 seconds.  Tool-assisted runs are as close to perfect as a run can be, in terms of sheer speed.  Barring a disruptive new glitch or strategy, that run is an indication of the theoretical fastest possible time that can be achieved, by a computer or a human.

And an unassisted human is less than a minute behind.

Let’s finish with a link to Souleye’s PPPPPP, the game’s soundtrack.  If you don’t find even a little joy in it you might want to consider taking a Voight-Kampff test, because you probably aren’t human.


(Credit to VGMaps for the nightmare map image)

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