Just like a good noodle bowl, there's several ingredients that make this precision platformer worth your while.
Game: Velocity Noodle
Developer: Shotgun Anaconda
Publisher: Shotgun Anaconda
Release Date: Jan 21st, 2022
Looking back on my gaming history, 2D platformers have always been a core part of my library. From Mega Man to Ninja Gaiden, my childhood was filled with unforgiving platformers that taught me to embrace the pain, get good, and get through (eventually). Truth be told, those NES controllers were basically actual bricks and could take a hearty toss onto the carpet now and then, but to this day there's just something soothing that clicks in my brain when a platformer starts to punish me - or as they call them these days, precision platformers.
Hidden chopsticks will give you incentive to push your platforming skills to the limit.
When I first saw Velocity Noodle's cover art and trailer, I was ready to hop in. The game looked like a mix of Mirror's Edge (hopping from rooftop to rooftop in a futuristic landscape) mixed with the Night City aesthetics of Cyberpunk 2077. I love sci-fi, I love platformers, and I love noodles (along with basically every other carbohydrate ever invented).
"Velocity Noodle is everything you'll want in a precision platformer, with creative levels that will turn your lo mein into lo PAIN."
Velocity Noodle's premise is simple: Deliver noodles to customers in a high stakes game of rooftop traversal, in a world where customers leave their mailboxes in places that I'm pretty sure the postal service wouldn't dream of going for fear of an OSHA violation. The game gives very little exposition as to who you are and why on earth you have a magic floating sword of teleportation, but that didn't bother me. Celeste, a comparable precision platformer, was one of the rare games that successfully drew me into the story alongside the joy of tight platforming, while almost all others entirely failed to immerse me in the lore of the game. I just wanna run, jump, and die!
These little vertical conveyor belts will absolutely blast you upwards - sometimes into certain death.
That's exactly what I got when I dove headfirst into the tutorial, and where some very unique mechanics stood out to me during my playthrough. Your standard parkour platformer kit is here, with well-balanced jumps, double jumps, dashes, and slides. The mechanic that quickly makes Velocity Noodle stand out, however, is the sword. Rather than be used offensively, this weapon is used as a mobility and utility tool, with a single button press being dedicated to flinging it forward. If it connects with the special electricity nodes scattered throughout the game, you will be transported instantly to that node.
That might sound gimmicky, but it opens up a world of options in fun ways to navigate those countless instant-death gauntlets that await. In later levels, I found myself really enjoying the sequences of jumping, dashing, and chaining together sword throws to advance. (That being said, I highly recommend disabling the camera shake in the settings so that your movement is tracked in a way that doesn't induce motion sickness.) Velocity Noodle is everything you'll want in a precision platformer, with creative levels that will turn your lo mein into lo PAIN.
I'll see myself out.
Another little touch that I appreciated is the life system. There isn't anything groundbreaking here, but the game essentially spawns you with the ability to absorb one hit without dying. Anybody who's played these types of games knows how frustrating it can be to get near the end of an especially difficult section and have one slip up end the run, and I like that Shotgun Anaconda took stock of that and decided to provide a little leeway without a difficulty setting begging you to have it ripped away.
These laser beams, however, are more than happy to take you to zero life without a second chance.
Where I found myself getting quite frustrated, however, were the chase scenes. At three different points in the game, you are dropped into what is essentially a pursuit sequence, with a cop car, drone, and even a freakin' giant laser beam chasing you down, always a split second away from taking you out. At first, I thought this would be a great test of the platforming skills I had acquired thus far, but the reality of what I experienced felt forced and downright unfair.
The problem with these specific levels is that whatever happens to be chasing you is in a fixed scrolling position, or at least really wants to be, so no matter how skilled you are at evading your pursuer, you will never get ahead. The first chase with the cop car makes this obvious, as no matter how fast or slow you run, it will always be on the left of your screen getting ready to gun you down. I'm getting Super Mario Bros. 3 flashbacks with that damned divebombing sun in the desert levels, and I don't think it does a precision platformer justice to set it up this way. Having a slick run that shaves off milliseconds feels great when you get just a little further ahead of your inevitable doom. Instead, having my progressively faster runs be met with an unkillable boss that simply exists on-screen made these stages ones that I couldn't wait to get away from.
This drone is the bane of my existence, and yeah, it is basically ALWAYS that close.
After just under an hour of playtime, I was surprised to find myself clocking out of my noodle delivery shift and rolling the credits. Perhaps I've just played one platformer too many and didn't get stuck in the harder levels as long as the developer intended, but the game felt short. That being said, it is billed at a speedrunning game, and there is plenty to go back and do afterward, including harder difficulties and 100% runs - and of course, going for your new PB.
One big positive to end this review on is the soundtrack. This is a mix of electro-rock and funk with some definite bops awaiting your rooftop runs. I would've liked to see different music accompany the chase sequences as those were essentially the boss battles of the game, and having the same music took away some of the intended intensity of those moments. In any case, the music is a plus and does the futuristic setting justice.
I definitely felt like I earned some hazard pay after clocking out.
I enjoyed my playthrough of Velocity Noodle, but like a good noodle bowl, I found myself wanting more at the end. I will be revisiting the game often to see what new content awaits, or to try a fresh run of the game. A good platformer never dies, and Velocity Noodle has the right stuff to scratch that run-and-jump itch.
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