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Affordable VGM – PPPPPP – The Soundtrack to VVVVVV

February 27, 2012

VVVVVV is an addictive indie game by Terry Cavanagh where you navigate your way through a hyper-dimensional space station by reversing the gravity to slingshot up into the air and back. The puzzles are intense but addicting, and the save points are close enough to where you died that you are tempted to immediately try again. However, a big part of VVVVVV‘s charm comes from the game’s fantastic soundtrack by SoulEye (Magnus Palsson). This Swede produced one of the most amazing chiptune soundtracks in recent memory, which he dubs PPPPPP – and each track in the game begins with the letter “P”. The melodies here are pure gold – it’s refreshing to see such catchy, lyrical melodies in today’s games that are dominated by epic atmospheric scores. In fact, I still listen to it regularly, even though I bought it about 6 months ago in the Game Soundtrack Bundle.

PPPPPPThe VVVVVV soundtrack

VVVVVV makes use of the Commodore 64 aesthetic, as does the soundtrack, which draws on the system’s 8-bit sound, complete with its trademark ringing arpeggios, though infused with modern synths for percussion and supporting instrumentation. While retaining the aesthetic, this is not something the original hardware is capable of doing, and so sounds like a C64 on steroids.

The album has a nice, slow opening through “presenting vvvvvv”, where Palsson whisper’s the game’s title (including a two-second silence track!). This is followed by the adventurous and determined “pushing onwards”, the first level of the game, which has a nice transition into “passion for exploring”, the slower-paced theme of the main area where the player’s home base is located. The song’s dynamic range is much narrower, making the player feel confident and safe (although it is still possible to die in this area). I also like the high speed action of “positive force”, which plays in a fast-scrolling elevator area, and “potential for anything” has a nice floating trance that reminds me of “Hot Pursuit” from Donkey Kong Country 3.

It’s hard to pick a favorite piece from the album, but I would have to go with “pressure cooker” for its combination of heavy bass and intricate melody – not to mention Palsson’s slick whispered “V”’s that break up the beat. There’s some nice use of C64 arpeggios at about 2:00, followed by nice timbre from the square wavs. In the liner notes, Palsson says he likes “popular potpourri” the most because it references each of the game’s tracks and SFX, and I do love its reassuring confidence. However, unlike other tracks that do the job better, such as the ending themes from Mega Man II and Contra 4, the references break up the overall melody.

I don’t bother to listen to “Positive Force Reversed” (which is just interesting) or “Waiting for VVVVVV” (which seems an inside joke), but the rest of the album is absolutely fantastic. Oh yeah, there’s a nice break in the middle, “phear”, that might just make you have to get new pants.

The only real downside to this soundtrack is the music doesn’t loop, so the tracks end suddenly. However, I suppose you could always create your own using a sound editor…

Finally, kudos for the Abbey Road album cover reference (one of the best album covers EVVVVVVER).

2 comments

  1. I like Positive Force Reversed as much as I like Positive Force. But my favorite is still Potential for Anything, followed by Pressure Cooker, then the Positive Forces.


  2. Whoa, there were new posts here? I only just now thought to check for them. In any case, I like this miniseries of articles you started about affordable VGM – well written, good features. It’s worth noting that two additional songs from VVVVVV 2.0 – Paced Energy (Max Confidence) and Piercing the Sky – were included on Pålsson’s album “Adventure.”



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