Two things that can be learned from VVVVVV:

1. It’s not necessarily a question of how hard a game is; it’s often more about how forgiving or unforgiving it is. VVVVVV is crazy difficult in places, but it’s also extremely generous. For every tightly-timed, pixel-perfect jump that takes thirty tries to get right, there’s a wide stretch of open space that you can flip through and explore at your leisure. Even in rooms where you die over and over again, respawns are quick and checkpoints are conveniently placed. You can reap all the benefits of completing a hard puzzle (fiero, progression) with relatively little of the costs (frustration, lost time).

In a way, VVVVVV reminds me of Flower Garden, as strange as that may seem. Although they have little in common in terms of their mechanics or pacing, they both share a very giving spirit of positive energy exchange — asking for relatively little energy input on the player’s part, and giving back lots of happy vibes in return.

2. Everything can be made better by slapping a dopey smile onto your characters.