BIT.TRIP RUNNER Review

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So this is a little gem that I bought quite a few months ago after getting some recommendations, and I have to say that it’s one of the most colorful and upbeat games I’ve ever played. BIT.TRIP RUNNER is definitely a star amongst games in regards to its style, that amazing soundtrack, and it’s challenging yet oh-so-rewarding gameplay. This is just a quick review of the aspects that I like about the game more so than an analysis, and I won’t bother to look at the story here. I’m looking at BIT.TRIP RUNNER as a sole game, not as a part of a series.

Let’s check it out.

Overview

BIT.TRIP RUNNER is a platformer in which you play as the principal character known only as Commander Video. Your goal is to run to the beat of the music while avoiding obstacles so that you can make it to the finish line and advance to the next level. Plain and simple. You can also collect power ups and gold along the way, which can take you to a bonus level that allows you to rack up a high score.

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Style

This game is set in the magical land of Who-Knows-Where, and the environment seems to be made of rainbows and acid. An absolutely stunning game with perfectly mixed bright and dark tones, sparkles and stars… It’s basically a land of absolute wonder. The main character is very simplistic in design yet the backgrounds are awe-inspiring. And despite the eccentric colors, nothing seems out of place or painful to look at.

And to me, the strongest point of the game’s visual style is the retro design choice, made even better by the fact that the environment actually reacts to your presence. I mean, just look at these majestic creatures, constantly following you with their gaze, watching you…. .

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Though they are kinda cute.

Music

This soundtrack is amazing. That’s it. I don’t know how much more I need to say. It’s upbeat, energetic, spunky, funky, and all around a feel good time that goes on for the duration of the level. And the gameplay is set to the beat of the music, so if you mess up and have to restart the level, Commander Video actually taps his little feet and starts running when he’s back on track with the rhythm of the song. But what makes the music even better are the power-ups available once you clear the first minute or so of running. They instantly upgrade your basic 8-bit style beat into a chorus of angels. But rather than just taking my word for it, have a listen.

Video by YouTube’s David G:

Gameplay

So this is where the game really sparkles. Despite the amazing music and the artistic rendition of Wherever-Land, the gameplay is the greatest contributor to how beautifully simplistic yet challenging this game truly is. For one thing, the controls are tight, and I mean truly spot on which is an absolute necessity for this game. Just think Super Meat Boy tight. So if you mess up it’s most likely because of your own timing. As the player you are held completely accountable for any and all successes and failures which fosters a great sense of accomplishment and helps track your improvement as a player.

Overall

This is a fantastic game. I love its energy and charisma, its finesse and charm, and you can tell that the creators put their hearts and souls into this production. And it was well worth it! The music, the visuals and the tight controls are all just… spot on. They fit so well together and create this uniquely satisfying side-scroller. This is quite remarkable considering the game doesn’t seem to be the heaviest in terms of plot. Not to say that there isn’t one (I’m not even taking the other games in the series into consideration at the moment). But this is one of those games that doesn’t need overly complex storylines and a plethora of characters to keep the player invested. The need to beat these levels, to ride along with the music, and to explore more of the gorgeous scenery constantly pushes us forward and towards the next level.

Goal copy

Now, I won’t say that it’s absolutely perfect. It comes pretty close, but ones thing that bugged me was actually the accuracy. What I mean is, if your computer happens to be rather slow or if your keys stick, you might get frustrated with the gameplay not working in your favor. I spent a few frustrating minutes trying to make a jump – just ONE jump – from one platform to another because my laptop’s space bar tends to stick a bit. I made it eventually, but beware that the tech issues in your life could be brought to life when playing a game that really does require such tight controls. It’s a strange complaint, isn’t it?

And one other thing that got to me was the fact that if you bump into anything or mess up, you get jetted back to the very beginning of the level. It’s not the worst thing ever and I wouldn’t even go so far as to call the game unfair in this regard, but with no checkpoints to lean on I got pretty frustrated trying to beat some of the levels.

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This is a game that truly tests your patience, and I won’t lie – it can be trying at times. But when you finally jump over that last hurdle and pass the level, you can’t help but pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Perfectly challenging, and perfectly rewarding. It’s a definite buy and you can get it for (one penny) less than $10 at the Steam Store: http://store.steampowered.com/app/63710/.

So take a look and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

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