Fan of retro platformers? Enjoy challenge, pixels, and the stark inevitability of death? Then VVVV, a java demake of VVVVVV (that's two whole additional Vs, folks) is for you. Only without all that cumbersome story. Or dialogue. Or sound. Or a save function. Venture out into the great unknown to rescue your six stranded sidekicks to turn their frowns upside down. You can also put down the pitchforks, since the game was created with the blessing of source material author Terry Cavanagh. Sorry folks, this meeting of Angry Mob Weekly is canceled.
Control is easy, using the [arrow] keys to move, and the up [arrow], [space], or [V] key to flip your character's gravity, sending him flying towards the ceiling or the floor, depending on where he is at the time. You can also view a map by tapping [M]. The game keeps track of your time, how many crew members remain to be saved, and, of course, how many times you die. Which you will. Likely quite a bit. The only things you have to worry about are spikes, which are instantly fatal and will force you to respawn at the last checkpoint you touched, and certain bits of the terrain, which will happily drop or catapult you into said spikes. Other than that, it's just you, a bunch of stranded crew-mates, and the great outdoors. (The role of the great outdoors here being played by the fathomless black void of space.)
Just because there's a lack of oddly symbolic enemies in this incarnation doesn't mean the experience will be easy, however. The map doesn't display the locations of any crew-mates you may have stumbled across, but been unable to rescue, so those of us with a poor memory are going to be doing some interstellar Marco Polo as we search. But for some the biggest issue is definitely going to be the lack of a save function. If you don't have the time to complete it all in one sitting, or have experienced that miracle of nature known as the rage-quit, VVVV forces you to restart all over from the beginning every time you close your browser window.
While not as complex as its source material, VVVV is still an impressive little creation that will provide a meaty feast of devious platforming for some, and a challenging exercise for others. If you can beat the game in under 100 seconds and/or less than 10 deaths as the author challenges you, make sure you tell me all about it. Your hands will go nicely in a jar of preserving fluids on my library wall.