VVVVVV is an indie video game developed by Terry Cavanagh and published in 2010. It is available on Linux, macOS, Windows, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Android, and iOS, among other, more niche platforms. It was initially built in Adobe Flash, later ported to C++ in 2011 with the help of Simon Roth, and gained additional features with the aid of Ethan Lee.
A puzzle-platforming game, the player must guide the protoganist, Captain Viridian, through various areas full of dangers in order to save their crewmates. To do so, one flips gravity, rather than jumping. Among the obstacles are various enemies that move back and forth, plus pointed spikes that harm the player. Along the way, the player can try to obtain optional collectibles, known as shiny trinkets. Dying will send the player back to the previous checkpoint and add to the death counter, with no other penalty — there are no set amount of lives.
On 10 January, 2020, the source code was made public for the game's tenth anniversary.
Etymology and pronunciation
The origin of VVVVVV's name is unclear, but several theories have given their own explanations. One states that it represents the six crew members, whose names all start with V; another alleges that the name is meant to represent spikes, the most common obstacle in the game.
When the game was a prototype and still titled VVVVVVVV, Terry Cavanagh gave “vee” as the official pronunciation. This is still used by some, but other pronunciations are prevalent, including “vee vee vee vee vee vee” and “the letter V six times”.
Versions of VVVVVV for Nintendo and Sony platforms are handled by Nicalis, a company known for porting and publishing indie games on consoles. These releases are based on the version 2.1 codebase. In all Nicalis releases of the game, the built-in custom levels are present, but there is no level editor.
The Nintendo Switch version of the game runs at 60 FPS and also introduces a two-player mode; however, these additions have been criticised by some VVVVVV players. The new framerate, especially, has been subject to criticism due to its implementation's improper handling of physics, causing gameplay discrepancies from the original PC versions.
A version of VVVVVV fully translated into Japanese was produced by Nicalis in 2016 for the Nintendo 3DS, and later the Nintendo Switch. The Japanese Nintendo Switch version, somewhat nonstandardly, is its own product, separate from the “international” version.
VVVVVV was made available on iOS and Android devices in June 2014. While these releases are based on the old Adobe Flash version of the game, they do include the built-in custom levels from version 2.1, but no level editor. Plans exist to update these versions of the game to the modern C++ codebase.
In the same month, a free version of VVVVVV entitled VVVVVV: Make and Play Edition was released by Cavanagh for Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux. This version includes the ability to create and play custom levels, but omits the main game.
Various unofficial ports and demakes exist of the game. Notable ones include:
- Two Commodore 64 demakes (a demo version by Paul Koller, and a later near-complete demake by group Laxity)
- A port of the original code to Sega Dreamcast by Gustavo Aranda
- Another port of the code to Xbox One by tunip3
- Terry Cavanagh (June 18, 2009), VVVVVVVV previewed on Bytejacker, distractionware.com, retrieved February 6, 2023
- Terry Cavanagh (September 1, 2021), Port the mobile version enchancements back to the native version, GitHub, retrieved February 6, 2023
- Terry Cavanagh (June 12, 2014), Outer Space, distractionware.com, retrieved February 6, 2023