Bit.Trip Runner ReviewJoe Shaffer
Bit.Trip Runner dons a sweet disguise. Your senses detect a platformer, what with constantly leaping over obstacles and deftly dodging perils all to collect massive sums of gold. Even the retro graphics belie that of an old school side-scroller. But somewhere in the back of your head, you realize what's going on. The way you press buttons to a beastly rhythm and nod your head to sick beats while carefully snagging the gold... it's a musical game, baby.
The first few levels of this auto-scrolling epic demand the least of your skills. You jump over a few rocks and slide underneath obstructions, and you might be inclined to think you're awesome--or that Runner is going to lay down and let you win. As you advance, the Commander introduces more actions and tricks for you to fiddle with: jumping on springboards, blocking shots, leaping off the backs of enemies, and even shattering crystals with mighty Chuck Norris kicks. Each move demands your attention and precision timing, and each one produces a musical note. You don't so much press buttons in response to a stimulus as much as boogie your way from start to finish.
Bit.Trip Runner thinks itself a diva, making increasingly harsher demands. The challenge turns furious before you're through with the first world, and obstacles manifest in tricky patterns. Be prepared to jump over a rock with only a split second to spare before you slide under an obstruction. Not even an inch will separate that obstacle from three crystals to kick, followed by projectiles to repel. For each peril, a note; for each rough situation, a catchy tune with a snazzy beat and rhythm.
Miss a single kick or fail a mere jump and you won't suffer a minor setback. Bit.Trip Runner is a diva in the truest sense: it will force you to start the gauntlet of musical danger over again, taking it from the top. This won't matter on most levels, as they tend to last maybe a minute or two. However, some stages can last up to and beyond five minutes. Imagine your thumbs ticking away a mean dance for over four minutes, the final sequence appears with the finish line just behind it. Oh, but your timing on one obstacle was off by a couple nanoseconds. No checkpoints, no life bars. Say goodbye to your motivation.
Long levels will separate the fans from haters. Stubborn masochists like myself will eat it up with greedy smiles, even past five in the morning when we're still trying to finish level 3-11. The face-crushing challenge combined with the timing-based gameplay generate a genuinely addictive experience for people who, like me, can't let things go.
Have you hungered for Super Meat Boy: The Musical or Demon's Souls on Ice? Bit.Trip Runner brings crushing challenge to the musical front, and threatens to destroy you as much as amuse you. Musical masochists, what are you waiting for? Secure the Wii Points and get crackin'!
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.