A great mix of simplistic gameplay and inspired presentation.
It's kind of ironic, in a time when gaming has advanced so much in terms of technology and design, that some gamers are clamoring for games that look and play like the classic games of yesteryear. Gaijin Games has been working hard on delivering this, creating unique gameplay experiences exclusive to WiiWare in the form of the BIT.TRIP series. BIT.TRIP VOID is the third game in the series, continuing its tradition of simple gameplay with a fun presentation.
In BIT.TRIP VOID, players control a pixelated black void. The goal is to collect tiny black dots that fly across the screen while avoiding the white dots. The more dots you collect, the bigger the void becomes. This is important to note, because if your void gets too big it controls more slowly, and you might accidentally collect a white dot due to its size getting in the way. In order to prevent this, a press of the A button will shrink the void, collecting the points you have accumulated in the process.
As simple as the game sounds, the level of challenge is substantial. There are many dots flying on-screen, forcing the player to carefully maneuver the void around them and learn their flight patterns in the process. If the player misses too many black dots, hits a lot of white dots, or does too much of both at once, they are sent into the netherworld, a black and white version of the level with no music or sound. This gives players the chance to get back into the game before it's game over.
BIT.TRIP VOID's simplicity is both its greatest strength and biggest weakness. Its simplicity allows players to enjoy the game in short bursts, and the challenge along with the appeal of getting the highest score possible also makes it addictive. But players expecting to do more with the game will be disappointed, which limits its overall replayability. The scoring system may also be an issue for some players; in true arcade fashion you are allowed to continue the game, but this is at the cost of your score. In other words, the player is penalized for continuing. While this is meant to replicate the old scoring systems of yesteryear, some players are likely to consider this unfair.
VOID offers a four-player multiplayer mode. Up to four players control the void, and all the dots the players earn go towards the final point tally. There are no other additional modes in the game, which is a shame because the concept is solid enough. It would have been nice to have seen more modes based on the main game.
The BIT.TRIP series is one that relies on its presentation in order to complete the package. The retro style featured in the previous games make a return in VOID. They won't impress - after all, the main animated aspects are black and white dots - but the backgrounds provide some funky colors that change according to the beat of the song that's playing. The background colors are too dark, making it hard at times to notice the black dots; considering that collecting dots is vital to the gameplay, the backgrounds should have been less obstructive.
The game's sound fares much better. Composed by Nullsleep, BIT.TRIP VOID features a chiptune-inspired soundtrack that is catchy and dynamic. Every time you collect a dot a bit sound is made, allow the player to add to the rhythm of the soundtrack. It makes the experience even more memorable, tying the player to the game moreso than other titles.
Overall, if you loved the first two BIT.TRIP games, then BIT.TRIP VOID should please you. It retains about the series' penchant for easy and accessible gameplay wrapped in a retro package. Its simplicity and lack of additional modes could harm long-term enjoyment, but BIT.TRIP VOID is brimming with creative ingenuity that shouldn't be missed.