Wii

North America

BIT.TRIP RUNNER

by Pedro Hernandez - May 24, 2010, 7:43 pm PDT
Total comments: 11

8.5

See Commander Video run! Run, Commander, Run!

Gaijin Games' BIT.TRIP series has been one of the most consistent game series in terms of quality. All three previous titles in the franchise have been successful at presenting easy-to-learn/hard-to-master gameplay that pays tributes to gaming's past. The fourth game in the series, BIT.TRIP RUNNER, changes the formula once more, and while the gameplay is great, there are some notable issues keep it from being truly amazing.

RUNNER allows players to control Commander Video directly for the first time in the series. As the title states, the commander runs through the stages. Players make him jump, duck,kick, and block in order to avoid the obstacles. What's very unique about this is that the entire game is based around the beat of the music. While past games employed this concept, BIT.TRIP RUNNER further enhances this as all of the obstacles are placed exactly as the rhythm of the song dictates it. The intensity of the song rises as the level progresses, making for an addicting challenge.

In addition to that, each stage features a set number of gold bars to collect. When you collect them all, you are taken to a bonus level that simulates the classic Activision game Pitfall. The more gold bars you collect, the higher your score will be. The bonus level plays exactly like the rest of the stages sans music, making it a test of timing due to the absence of musical cues.

Like in past BIT.TRIP titles, RUNNER features three stages divided into several levels. All stages end with a longer level and a boss fight. BIT.TRIP RUNNER features around 32 levels, making it the longest game in the series.

The development team went above and beyond the call of duty, creating one of the more effective uses of music in a video game yet. But for all the achievements the game has, there are some issues that tarnish some of its luster. The biggest is the lack of checkpoints. The previous game in the series implemented checkpoints along with some conditions that made the games accessible despite the high level of challenge. RUNNER, however, doesn't implement any checkpoints, meaning that if you hit an obstacle you are taken back to the beginning of the stage, losing all of your points. While this isn't a problem in the easier, shorter stages, the longer stages and boss fights quickly become a test of how patient you are with trial-and-error gameplay.

The overall presentation stays true to the BIT.TRIP series. Using the same Atari-like visuals, BIT.TRIP RUNNER also incorporates 3D graphics for its backdrops and several obstacles. The colorful universe is very appealing in its modern retro aesthetic, but at times the backgrounds can get distracting, and in a game that demands you to pay attention to all elements on the screen, this can be a daunting task. But easily the best thing about the presentation is the soundtrack. The tunes are very fun and catchy, perfectly capturing the quirkiness of classic game soundtracks while adding a modern edge to it. Best of all, the soundtrack is tied very well to the gameplay. The more you progress, the livelier the music becomes, making for a satisfying gameplay session with a real sense of achievement and fun.

BIT.TRIP RUNNER is a feast for the eyes and ears, and its gameplay is very inspired. However, the lack of checkpoints makes things more frustrating than they should be, but if you loved the earlier BIT.TRIP games, then RUNNER shouldn't be missed.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 10 9 8 8.5 8.5
Graphics
9

The 2D sprites combined with the 3D graphics make for an experience that is colorful, captivating and enjoyable, but, like in previous games, they may be too distracting for players.

Sound
10

The chiptune music is perhaps the best the series has ever seen, and the way it has been integrated to the gameplay further makes it even more amazing.

Control
9

Using the Wii Remote on its side, BIT.TRIP RUNNER controls very smoothly. The controls are very responsive, and in a game all about timing, this is very important.

Gameplay
8

Much attention was given to the platforming and its ties with the soundtrack, creating an effective use of music in the core gameplay. There's nothing more satisfying than nailing all the beats and seeing the song grow in intensity. The biggest problem, though, is that if you hit an obstacle the game forces you to start all over again due to a lack of checkpoints. Not a problem on some of the stages but for the longer stages it can test the patience of even the most dedicated gamer. Still, you won't find anything else like it on WiiWare.

Lastability
8.5

With over 30 levels to conquer and the opportunity to raise your score, BIT.TRIP RUNNER offers a lot for the hardcore gamer. The stages vary in length, and the game's trial and error nature means that many hours will be spent mastering them.

Final
8.5

BIT.TRIP RUNNER proudly continues the franchise's tradition of paying tribute to gaming's history while bringing unique, modern gameplay to the table. Its flaws keep it from being the absolute best, but it's certainly one of the most unique games in the WiiWare service that shouldn’t be missed.

Summary

Pros
  • Addicting
  • Creative gameplay
  • Wonderful graphics and musical score
Cons
  • Lack of checkpoints
  • Trial-and-error-based gameplay
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

DasmosMay 26, 2010

I haven't found this frustrating in the slightest. It's purely reaction based and while I may have to repeat a level a lot of times, I never feel it's because I was cheated in any way.

broodwarsMay 26, 2010

Quote from: Dasmos

I haven't found this frustrating in the slightest. It's purely reaction based and while I may have to repeat a level a lot of times, I never feel it's because I was cheated in any way.

Well, I've beaten the game and I certainly found myself cheated quite a few times, just because of the sheer number of times you have to be absolutely exact in your timing on jumps in the final batch of levels (especially when they introduce that oh-so-cute pattern of jumping over an object into a slide under a stairway of obstacles.  Seriously, I haven't seen Mario games that make such a clear demand over the amount of time you hold the jumping button.  The final couple of stages also fall into that annoying trap of the Bit.Trip series by suddenly changing the rules on objects to try to fake you out and send you back to the beginning of the stage.  Up until then, the game had been fairly consistent about the rules for a change, but then towards the end the game deliberately tries to bait you into acting according to the established rules and patterns.  It's infuriating, because it relies on memorization over skill.

Overall, a good game and one of the few Bit.Trip games I actually managed to beat, but it can be really annoying and cheap.

KDR_11kMay 26, 2010

The game tires my eyes...

nemyhlovecraftMay 28, 2010

I'd suggest looking at this game as a rhythm game (like the rest of the BIT.TRIP series) with the look of a fantastically cool platformer. The repetitiveness, difficulty, and unforgiving nature of this game is absolutely the point. Checkpoints would ruin the gameplay. BIT.TRIP RUNNER is a fine balance of learning levels and learning game mechanics. Failing is frustrating but when you hit a brand new section of a run and you nail it the first time, its pretty exhilarating.

Quote from: nemyhlovecraft

I'd suggest looking at this game as a rhythm game (like the rest of the BIT.TRIP series) with the look of a fantastically cool platformer. The repetitiveness, difficulty, and unforgiving nature of this game is absolutely the point. Checkpoints would ruin the gameplay. BIT.TRIP RUNNER is a fine balance of learning levels and learning game mechanics. Failing is frustrating but when you hit a brand new section of a run and you nail it the first time, its pretty exhilarating.

Imagine if you played a song on Rock Band or Guitar Hero and failed whenever you missed a note. That's why the rhythm game argument doesn't hold water for me.

It's like a Rhythm Heaven perfect challenge.

KDR_11kMay 28, 2010

The rhythm argument also doesn't hold water because you usually have to hit the button before the note, not on. It completely broke away when I encountered the parts in world 2 where a wrecking ball is attached to one of the structures you have to slide under, the sound that combination produces is HORRIBLE. Also if the sounds generated depended on how you dodged the obstacle instead of being completely random they could help with memorizing the level but as it is you better ignore them completely.

nemyhlovecraftJune 04, 2010

Sorry guys, every one of Gaijin's BIT.TRIP games are rhythm games, and yeah it isn't about hitting a button when a note occurs, its about assimilating a rhythmic pattern and translating it into an organized understanding of the level design. This is the kinda game where you can screw up 30 times in a row, go to sleep and come back and nail the section because your brain has translated a repeated pattern into a block. So, I guess what I'm coming to is that you can't deny the fact that the game is a rhythm game because it requires you to learn rhythms, but what you can complain about is the fail states. My argument would be that the fail states are a conscious design decision and define the core gameplay. If the frustration is too much for you, then its too much for you, but this is a game I'm going to keep coming back to. My only real complaint would be that I wish it had more levels.

CalibanJuly 01, 2010

Quote from: NWR_pap64

    Cons:
    Lack of checkpoints

At one point or another in the game I would have to agree with this statement, but in the end I have come to think that I think a trip movement would be better than a checkpoint. The character is always running, so if he trips (think of it as lives in Super Mario Bros.) he can still come back on his feet running by not stopping the flow of the game.

Took me 14 hours to beat, or so says my records. It was a lot of fun. The end of the last level of the game gave me this reaction "That was it?", but I was fine with it lol.

If you check out the E3 interview with Alex Neuse, I believe he says something about why they have one hit deaths. Basically, it made the game much more intense and rewarding. They found that they were lackadaisical when they played the game because they had multiple hits to take.

I kind of agree and disagree with that line of thinking. At the end of the day, I think this game is awesome despite my initial frustration.

CalibanJuly 01, 2010

I did watch that interview, but I thought his answer was bullshit. His, or should I say Gaijin's, intentions are good, but come on, you have to leave some leeway for one error or two.

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Genre Rhythm
Developer Gaijin Games
Players1
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: BIT.TRIP RUNNER
Release May 17, 2010
PublisherAksys Games
RatingEveryone
eu: BIT.TRIP RUNNER
Release May 14, 2010
PublisherAksys Games
Rating3+

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