Review by Alyx Jones
Edited by Sam Hughes
Developer: Terry Cavanagh
Composer: Magnus Pålsson a.k.a. SoulEye
Reviewed on: Mac (Steam)
VVVVVV is a 2d puzzle platformer by Terry Cavanagh with music from Magnus Pålsson (SoulEye). It was developed in Adobe Flash and released in 2010, to the praise of its “gravity flipping” mechanic. The game was released earlier in the year to Super MeatBoy, both being successful, partly due to the super difficult gameplay that leaves many fans never completing the games. Captain Viridian (VVVVVV‘s protagonist) was featured as a playable character in Super MeatBoy, as a nod to the game.
SoulEye is a chiptune composer from Sweden that takes pride in creating catchy and unforgettable tracks, but also lives by the quote “It’s better to write for yourself and lose your audience, than to write for the audience and lose yourself”. His music for VVVVVV is indeed catchy chiptune at its best with upbeat melodies that get stuck in the players head, especially when spending a long time trying to complete difficult levels. The games art style lends itself to the retro, lo-fi chip sounds and they work well together in taking players back to their favourite classics. When SoulEye release his soundtrack for VVVVVV, he entitled it PPPPPP. This then went on to be arranged as a metal album 4 years later entitled MMMMMM. It was interesting because a mod was then released for VVVVVV to replace the current chiptune in-game music, with the new metal soundtrack.
Once Captain Viridian has returned to the ship (after the initial scattering of characters) there is then a Juke Box option available that allows the player to collect “trinkets” to unlock new songs. These touches make the soundtrack an integral part of the game, and make the music itself a collectable within VVVVVV. It shows the effort and detail that can be put into the audio implementation even in Adobe Flash, that’s not necessarily built to handle anything complicated audio wise.
SoulEye notes that he is a big fan of the Street Fighter series (particularly Street Fighter 2) and that he hears part of Guile’s Theme and Ryu’s Theme in his own compositions for VVVVVV upon listening back. A big influence on his catchy, upbeat music for this game.
Sound Effects are fairly minimal in the game, mostly explosions and impacts in the game intro, all in a lo fi style to tie in with the game feel and of course the soundtrack. In particular the sound for when a character is sad (a 2 note chip SFX), sounds alot like a puppy when it’s sad, so really adds an emotional connection to the pixels on screen.
Overall, massive success for SoulEye at creating a soundtrack to get stuck in your head after you put the game down. A game that takes alot of good timing and patience to finish but if you think you’ve got what it takes…go for it!
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The Sound Architect