Before starting this, I would like to personally apologize to the creator of Velocity Noodle. I originally intended to make this into a video review, but video editing is a hefty, monumental task that, frankly, I do not have the motivation to sit through currently. Thus, I kept putting off my thoughts on the game for days, weeks—now, here it is a month to the day that it released. (I played this on release day.)
Hopefully, despite the delay, I can encourage a few lads to give this a try. Probably.
Should you be fond of speedrunning, 2D-sidescrolling platforming antics, Velocity Noodle hopes to provide that specific itch. Play as a ramen delivery carrier as she makes her way through a neon-lit city full of obstacles and ramen-despising police forces. With 60 levels to run through, this is one night she won’t soon forget.
Further emphasis can be placed on “one night,” as the game can be completed in a relatively short amount of time. Assuming you are not going for 100% completion (which involves completing levels with a time limit and collecting secret chopsticks), this would take one anywhere between 2-3 hours. Relatively straightforward and not a whole lot to it outside of bite-sized levels, it’s fairly lean overall. For a first game, this is excusable.
Twitter is a giant hellhole where everyone is screaming at one another about politics and video game opinions. That’s what most people say. For me, I’ve taken meticulous steps in ensuring that my feed is relatively gentle, whereas most of what I see is game-related, but civil and more positively hyped. It’s also been a great place to discover new indie titles; believe it or not, Twitter is pretty good about taking things I’ve clicked on and showing me new stuff related to it.
Such is how I learned about Velocity Noodle, either because an indie game enthusiast (or developer themselves) retweeted it or Twitter used its algorithm to good effect. As someone who grew up with 2D sidescrollers and platformers, the game was immediately appealing. What sealed it was its groovy sci-fi aesthetic and the fast pace it advertised. I like going fast!
To Glitch or Not to Glitch
Since its initial release, the game has gotten a number of updates to make it a better, more responsive game. I played a majority of it on, and a couple days after, release, so I experienced a fair number of “interesting” things.
However, I won’t go over the (many) details that made it a rather wonky experience, just because many of these issues have since been fixed. Before writing up this review, I went and played about a half an hour of Velocity Noodle to see if any of the things I personally faced had been adjusted. Most had been.
Unfortunately, not everything has been adjusted for the better. Even within that 30-minute span, I encountered a glitch where I phased into a wall during one stage. I’m unsure how much the creator adjusted the button inputs during the latest update, but sliding and throwing your sword (more on these later) don’t feel as responsive, especially the latter (there seems to be a delay after jumping). It kind of hurts the high-flying, speed-fueled frenzy when your character isn’t behaving as needed.
Finally, there are some issues with framerate on specific levels within the game—particularly those with a lot of platforms, lasers, and miscellaneous items. The creator has already heard of this and adjusted the game to be more effective during these stages. Yet even as I went back to them, there’s still just enough of a drop in fluidity to be noticeable. It’s getting there, only still not perfect. Buyers beware: the journey can be bumpy at times.
More Than a Run ‘n’ Jump
Probably the largest compliment one can give to Velocity Noodle is that it tries to innovate wherever it can. Not only will you be running and jumping, as is obvious, but you’ll be teleporting, dodging, sliding, and maneuvering through tight spaces. Multiple times throughout the “campaign,” a new “gimmick” will be introduced, which subsequent levels will expand upon until the process repeats.
Bear in mind that this isn’t a particularly “difficult” game. So long as you’re careful, even non-veteran platforming fanatics should have little trouble with this, except perhaps during “boss” stages. What would make anything frustrating is the (since resolved) issues that would come up due to the finnicky foundation of the game from glitches. Of course, I am a platforming veteran, so it’s harder for me to really gauge it. (I thought the game was fairly easy.)
Two particular things one can expect are teleportation and sliding. Sliding is done by pressing down on your controller while running, which can be a unresponsive at times. It’s supposed to keep your momentum going while going through tight spaces; a must for when you want the best times possible in given stages. When you do end up finding a particular “path” that you believe is speedy enough, sliding can end up being an immersive aspect of mastering the controls of the game.
Teleportation comes through throwing your floating katana (don’t ask) in front of you to trigger these warp points. This is, personally, my favorite aspect of the game. Suspended in mid-air, quick input can have you flying through the air at high speeds. While the preciseness required can be cumbersome, I’ve rarely been bummed to see a level full of warp points to take advantage of. More often, I end up getting excited about how meticulously I can abuse them.
You Don’t Quit Quick
To make something crystal clear, this is not a game for those more, er, “casually-inclined.” This is not to say those who prefer casual games won’t enjoy it, but I believe they won’t get as much out of it. Velocity Noodle is for those who are a little more competitive, more wired to want to do anything and everything, challenging themselves to improve through trial and error. I mentioned before that outside of 100% completion, one can beat this within 2-3 hours.
I went for near-100% completion; I currently have 7.5 hours accumulated.
A majority of those hours came repeating levels, over and over, to reach the gold-medal time. My process included beating a stage once, maybe acquiring a chopstick collectible along the way, and then replaying it until I got the best time. Sometimes it only takes a couple tries and sometimes it takes upwards of twenty minutes. Many stages offer a variety of paths to take to maximize quick runs, though others tend to be more limited (based on stage design).
If Velocity Noodle‘s one goal was to make a solid platformer that emphasizes frenetic speed and experimentation, it succeeded. The game is most fun when you’re trying for those fastest time presets. What I’ll remember most is restarting a stage and immediately boosting from the start, carefully flying through a stage the way I believe will get me to the goal fastest. Over and over until I just barely make it in time for gold. Oh, how often the opposite occurred, too: I once was late by .01 seconds. Killed me inside.
What will inevitably turn some people off are the less-than-flawless controller input that can thwart one’s fastest runs. That, or the glitches that may still linger, causing some unnecessary restarts. Technicality aside, it’s not the most “accessible” title, either, clearly striving to attract those of a competitive, perhaps “retro-inclined” playstyle.
Though the glimmer of “Indie” and “First game” will adorn it forever, it’s a great foray into the precision-platforming genre, made with an obvious love for its inspirators. Speed enthusiasts, particularly, will find a nice treat here, even if not extraordinarily detailed or packed with long-term content. For the price and the dedication to the genre, it’s worth a shot.
Final Score: 6.5/10
If you would like to purchase Velocity Noodle, it is available on Steam.
For more reviews on this topic, be sure to check out the associated archive.
Thank you for your time. Have a great timezone.