two wiiware games in a row! although in this case i actually played the wii version of bit.trip runner, as it appears in the wii compilation bit.trip complete. anyway, the game and the bit.trip series in general got tons of acclaim when they were released, and being wiiware exclusives certainly didn’t hurt (although they’ve since been made available on wii as previously mentioned, as well as 3DS and steam).
i was a bit leery of bit.trip runner since mobile phones are full of completely disposable “endless runner” games (one of which i tried out a few years ago). i’m not even sure how that genre got big, but in any case i like the bit.trip series’ retro, atari-era-inspired aesthetic in general, and i was hoping that bit.trip runner‘s emphasis on rhythm and music would help ameliorate the main problems with the genre.
which (to start a new paragraph), it doesn’t, unfortunately. the problem of the genre falls squarely under my main gameplay gripe, which is “try and die” gameplay. in this regard bit.trip runner is as big a culprit as any game, and as with most endless runner games it emphasizes memorization rather than fast reflexes (although you’ll need both). the aesthetics kept me engaged for a decent amount of time, though, and i soldiered through all of the first world, including what has become the notorious level of the game, 1-11 (one of the longest in the game, i believe). the boss level was particularly egregious in terms of requiring rote memorization over “skill”, and after playing through most of the second world (of three) i lost patience and had to put the game aside. by that time the game’s charms (namely, the music, aesthetics, and simplicity of the gameplay) had been far, far outweighed by the downsides, including levels that are too repetitive and overly busy visual effects and backgrounds that make it difficult to tell what exactly you’re supposed to be avoiding. not having any checkpoints doesn’t help things either. (from the reviews on metacritic it looks like i’m not completely in a minority in this opinion, although sean aaron from nintendolife gave the game a perfect 10.) but the clincher was realizing that getting through the game wasn’t going to be at all a question of brain power but rather just sinking time into trial and error over and over and over again. now, not being a stranger to old-school gaming i don’t mind a challenge as long as i consider it to be “fair”, but once blatant “try and die” gameplay rears its ugly head i quickly lose any interest in being a completionist.
so, a disappointment overall, although the soundtrack is pretty rockin’. i’ve already dipped into the sequel (with the lengthy title bit.trip presents runner2: future legend of rhythm alien) and aside from the glossier visuals, more stages (and presumably a more gradual learning curve), the usual pointless achievements, and the addition of a checkpoint at the middle of every stage, it feels pretty much identical to the original. so i doubt i’ll be playing through much more of that any time soon, although i’m cautiously optimistic about trying more from the original set of bit.trip games.
don’t trip up over these bit.trip runner links:
– official site
– set of videos of perfects of every stage, from nintendaan, of gonintendo fame
– entry on wikipedia
– entry on steam, including achievements
– entry at howlongtobeat.com