Monday 29 May 2023

Velocity Noodle Review (Switch)


Written by Dan Gill

“Git gud”. This phrase has been mentioned by me in the past, as you find that in reviewing retro games (or at least new games styled on retro games), you need to tap into the skills you had when you were younger. You need to call on the resilience you had in your youth, a time where you likely had few games, and the ones you did were often as hard as nails. Some modern retro titles go as far as touting the difficulty of their game as a selling point, a way to appeal to the hardcore gamer, a way to weed out the posers and gamers raised on the handholding of modern titles. In the case of Velocity Noodle the blurb for the game even uses “git gud” in its sales pitch. Basically, if you’re coming into this game expecting anything other than a challenge, you’re in for a bad time.

Set in a neon-drenched cyberpunk city, your job is to deliver noodles as fast as you can. Well, that’s the McGuffin at least, really the aim is to get from the beginning of the level to the goal as quickly as you can. Awards are earned for beating set times, or by grabbing awkward to reach chopsticks hidden in each level. The usual platformer moves can be used (dash, double jumps), along with the use of your character’s sword to trip switches, grip walls and activate teleporters. Each ability is introduced to the game with a selection of levels to try them out and provides a decent amount of time for the player to pick things up before moving on. As the game progresses, you find yourself having to string moves together to navigate the Velocity Noodle’s tricky levels.

Velocity Noodle is tough, there’s no disputing that. Thankfully it feels like progress is achievable through perseverance, unlike other titles (I Wanna Be the Guy, for example) which veer towards the fury inspiring end of the spectrum. VN has led to a few grunts of frustration and bad language during my time with it, but I’ve generally been able to come back and make progress without flinging the Switch across the room in frustration. The most irritating moments tended to be when the game didn’t play fair. The controls don’t feel quite as tight as they should be, as often I’d try to dash slide through a narrow space only to be stopped by a wall due to the crouch not being picked up. I tried with a few different controllers using both digital and analogue, but it’s still a little hit-and-miss. Setting Y as the restart level button is also a strange move. The number of times I pressed it instead of dash (X) resulted in many cross words and lots of starting over.

The game’s most unfair sections come during chase levels. You spend the level being hounded by a drone which seems to behave quite randomly, and not being able to predict or easily dodge its movements often result in restarting the level over. It’s one thing to be stymied by your own lack of skill (something I’ll admit to), but the game cheating the player feels a little unfair. Add to this some slight slowdown/judder during some levels (at least in handheld mode), one can’t help but feel a little hard done by.

When it does work, Velocity Noodle is a lot of fun. It looks and sounds nice enough (although some items in the foreground aren’t always distinguishable from the background), and the in-game dialogue is mildly amusing. The satisfaction of stringing a combo together to traverse a tricky section feels good, and the game does make you want to return to make progress rather than put you off like some other games in the genre. Challenges and bonus levels await the hardcore, so there’s something for those that enjoy the pain. For the rest of us, there’s enough to enjoy without needing to put in hours of practice, just bring a little patience and you should do fine.

 Overall 7/10

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