It's a bit trippy, but completely awesome.
If you've already read about the Bit.Trip series here on Nintendo World Report, there's not a great amount to talk about that hasn't already been said. Because of this, I'm not going to give individual reviews of the games. But if you want to find out exactly what this collection is all about, read on!
Making its debut as a collection of WiiWare titles for the Shop Channel, Bit.Trip covers the evolving journey of CommanderVideo on his pilgrimage through space, facing various challenges and situations that make up an odd metaphorical representation of life itself.
There are six games in the series; Beat, Core, Void, Runner, Fate and Flux.
While each game is vastly different from the last, all six follow the same style with square, dot-pixel graphics emulating the look of the Atari 2600 generation of games (in fact, there are several subtle references to games from this era, such as Pitfall and Space Invaders), with an appropriately beepy soundtrack to match. Even 3D environments are modeled in this same blocky style that pops out from the 2D elements of the game while staying true to its retro arcade feel.
The other major connection between each game is that no matter what you're doing, all the action is timed to precisely follow the music beat, which helps players follow along with the rhythm when it comes to timing actions, but also allows for crazy difficulty in later stages.
Each game has an entirely different play style, using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk in different ways. They're simple concepts; for example, Beat and Flux are both Pong-style games that make you rotate the Wii Remote to move a panel up and down, deflecting pixels as they fly across the screen. Bit.Trip Runner sees the Commander dashing endlessly across the land, making you jump over, duck under and kick away obstacles of various kinds with precision timing while holding the Wii Remote sideways, NES Virtual Console style. The games are extremely easy to pick up and play, yet quickly become nail-bitingly difficult, testing your reflexes to their utmost limits by the end of each game.
It is this quick progression from teaching you the moves to throwing a maddening onslaught of peril at you that provides much of the difficulty. Obstacles will suddenly change speeds or trajectory, often changing the way they behave as you interact with them, all while the backgrounds try their hardest to distract you with a psychedelic display of flashing lights and animated scenery. This can get pretty frustrating when you fail a level within the final few seconds, only to have to repeat the whole thing from the beginning.
Fortunately, as crazy as the action gets, it's all on a preset pattern. Nothing is randomized, so with enough practice and determination, it is possible to completely learn the entirety of each of the six games and be ready for each new challenge as it appears. The rewarding feeling of finally overcoming that one tricky patch that was giving you trouble and finishing the level is something special.
The games themselves are identical to the WiiWare versions, with the same controls, the same graphics and music. So what's new in the Complete package?
First of all, a brand new Challenge mode adds 20 new levels to each of the games. These levels consist of some of the harder obstacles that you come across throughout each of the six games, and must be completed flawlessly to count as finished.
The main games now also contain three difficulty settings, which increase or decrease the amount of times you can mess up before failing the level, or in Runner, the amount of gold to pick up in each stage. What's more is an online leaderboard for each game has been included, allowing you to see just how you stack up against the world's best.
One of the coolest extra features is that the game comes packed in with a bonus soundtrack CD, featuring all 18 full tracks from the games' main levels. Some of the tunes can be quite catchy and the disc really adds to the overall presentation and value of the package.
Furthermore, there's a considerable list of unlockable bonuses. By completing the games' levels on different difficulties, unlocking and passing the Challenge trials and besting the high scores, you can unlock a gallery of concept art, the original WiiWare trailers and cut scenes for each game, and a series of letters from the developers, explaining some of the metaphorical references and themes behind each of the games.
Finally, a collection of additional music remix tracks can also be unlocked in-game, rounding out the experience quite well and giving you a lot to strive for. With the added modes and a reason to strive for the high scores, the games now have much more replay value than they did as mere download software.
Overall, this is a series that must be experienced, especially if you were a fan of Atari or arcade games back in the day. Rhythm and musical game fans should also get a kick out of it. This collection nicely compiles some of the best that WiiWare has to offer in one neat package with a lot of great new features, but all of that comes with a few big ifs.
Those who already downloaded the Shop Channel offerings of any or all of the titles might find little reason to buy the whole series again, and because each of the games are so different, some might not appeal to certain people as much as others. While my personal favorite in the series is Bit.Trip Runner, I can find enjoyment and merit in playing all of them as one big unified experience, and it seems clear that this is the way they were meant to be delivered to the public from the get-go.
Ultimately, it comes down to this: if you want all the extra content, or the convenience of having all the games together on one disc rather than taking up a large chunk of the limited space on your Wii's hard drive, get it. If you've seen trailers or played demos and find yourself bopping to the beat, get it. If you're completely new to the series, get it. If you already own one or more of the titles, or the style of play isn't really your cup of tea, this set might have trouble winning you over.