Time is frozen for Lt. Kai Tana as she looks at her surroundings, travelling at a seemingly impossible velocity while navigating sharp corners and narrow tunnels with guile. She has to get home, and no one is going stop her, not even the nefarious General Glaive. The illusion is quickly shattered, as I crash into one of the nearby walls. Without a second thought, I press restart for the thirteenth time. This is Velocity 2X, and I have to get her home.
Already out on a multitude of platforms, FutureLab have now brought their hyper-shmup, Velocity 2X, to the Nintendo Switch. It’s a perfect fit on the hybrid handheld.
For anyone not familiar with the story so far, you take control of Lt. Kai Tana, who’s been flung halfway across the galaxy, cybernetically enhanced between games, and is now desperately trying to find a way back home. Thankfully, she finds a friend amidst the chaos, in Hjun Ralan III, a member of the Jintada species imprisoned alongside her. Together, they break out, endeavouring to put a stop to General Glaive and the Vokh species, while also getting Kai back home to Earth.
Velocity, for all intents and purposes, is a shmup in the vain of Ikaruga and others like it. You initially control the Quarp Jet and navigate your way through tight tunnels, dodging enemies and trying to rescue survivors trapped in pods around the level. As the title would suggest, speed is the name of the game and you are encouraged to complete the levels as quickly as possible for the best scores. Your standard flight speed is fairly slow and is generally used when trying to solve trickier parts of the level. If you want to travel at the speed Velocity is meant to be played at, then just hold ZR to travel at hyper speed. One of the other core mechanics is the teledash, controlled with the ZL button. By holding it down, you are able to use a cursor to point to another area, often otherwise unreachable, on the screen and teleport to it, making for some eye watering moments when you are doing it at max velocity – see what I did there?
A few levels in, you’re treated to a nice surprise as Kai leaves the ship behind to explore the area on foot. You would be forgiven for thinking this can slow things down but actually, controlling Kai is equally as fluid. On foot, the left stick is used to control her movement while the right stick controls the direction she shoots. Once again, holding ZR will make her move quicker, allowing for some very slick traversal around levels, reminiscent of N+. There’s a slight disconnect as you mentally shift between control schemes, but the on-foot levels merge effortlessly with the ships sections making for some truly blinding action throughout.
The levels start off fairly simplistic, and do a very good job of building the player up to new mechanics. You are even discovering tricks half way through the game. Towards the end, the real challenge begins as you need some pretty good scores in order to proceed to the final levels. That’s the main draw of Velocity; it’s a speedrunner’s dream as most of the challenge comes from going back and perfecting those runs. Scoreboards are in place so the competitive streak in you can shine, either climbing to the top or just beating your mates for fun.
Despite being a re-release of a four year old game, Velocity holds up incredibly well amongst some of the great games released this year. It would be absolutely criminal if this hadn’t found it’s way to the Switch as it feels like the perfect home for it. It’s the kind of game you can pick up, play a few levels and come back to later, and is excellent for short journeys when you want fill a few minutes with some fancy space flight. Of course, it’s been on a handheld before, having originally launched on PS Vita, but the Switch’s larger screen easily trumps the original Vita version. Whether docked or in your hands, the game looks fantastic on Switch and plays well either way, accompanied with a kick ass soundtrack that only serves to make you want to fly faster.
Velocity 2X is a marvellous, quick paced experience with plenty of re-playability, that definitely finds its home on the Nintendo Switch. If you’ve never experienced Velocity 2X before then you are in for a treat. Get it in your (solar) system, now.