This iterative sequel changes up the gameplay, but it is still just three 15-minute levels.
The second in Gaijin Games' music-based Bit.Trip series, Bit.Trip Core, is a great follow-up to the first game that retains much of the same style, ideas, and issues, but is played in a completely different way. Whereas Beat was based on Pong, Core is unlike anything else I've ever played. You hold the Wii Remote on its side and direct your shot in one of four directions with the D-pad, and when a beat goes past, you press the 2 button and shoot it.
This gameplay style doesn't take advantage of the Wii's capabilities and is not analogous to another game, but it is easier to control because of the concrete button-pressing. Instead of having to deal with the sensitivity of tilting the Wii Remote (like in Beat), you only have four directions to deal with. You can also launch a bomb once per level that wipes out everything on the screen. It's not a huge gameplay addition, but it does help tone down the difficulty a bit.
That's the biggest issue in the game: it's unforgiving. The three levels are 15-minute affairs, each with creative boss fights that don't skimp on challenge. It's a good amount of content for a WiiWare game, but it could stand to be broken up into smaller chunks. There is nothing more frustrating than working your way through one of the levels and then failing in the final minutes, especially since there are no checkpoints.
To alleviate this brutal difficulty, the cooperative mode comes to the rescue. Two players can team up and play the game simultaneously. Unlike the multiplayer mode in Bit.Trip Beat, which arguably made the game harder, Core's co-op mode actually helps you survive the levels.
Core also introduces different power-ups and challenges. The power-ups give you boosts such as multi-beam, which allows you fire off two beams in opposite directions at once. The challenges task you with clearing sections with a handicap, such as rotating the D-pad controls. The challenges are extremely tough, and unless you're gunning for the top of the (offline) leader boards, they're better off left alone.
The art style and music remain similar to Bit.Trip Beat, and this game continues the story of the intrepid, two-dimensional Commander Video. The story is a bit unclear, but it is rife with trippy visuals and awesome chiptune music that changes as you progress through each level. The visuals are oftentimes too busy, though, and can distract you from the gameplay.
Bit.Trip Core is another solid entry in the Bit.Trip series, but it maintains most of the issues of its predecessor (long levels, difficulty, busy visuals). If you loved Bit.Trip Beat, getting this is a no-brainer. However, if you weren't sold on the first game, Bit.Trip Core isn't going to change your mind.