I’ve played a few games in my day; I’m used to getting killed (digitally, mind you) and having to restart my progress. None of that previous experience prepared me to the challenge that is BIT.TRIP RUNNER, an indie platform/rhythm game developed by Gaijin Games, Inc. The game is fun, but unforgiving.
It’s a retro-flavored platform game with a rhythm twist. Or rather, a rhythm game with a platform twist. You play… a runner. There doesn’t seem to be any plot (or at least not any that I have discerned), all that you need to do is get to the end of the level while avoiding obstacles, collecting coins, and point-multiplier power-ups. Each obstacle in your way has a specific move that will allow you to avoid it.
The kicker? You have no control over the left and right movement of your character. Instead, your character runs across the screen at a set pace and your actions of jumping, sliding, and kicking, must be timed accurately enough so that you don’t crash into the obstacles. What’s more, is that as you pass obstacles the game plays the note of a song, so the placement of the obstacles is akin to a sheet of music.
What I really love about the game is that as you collect point multipliers, more layers are added to the background music and the intensity of both the game and the electronic-style music increases. It’s fun to feel as though you are playing along with the song while simultaneously jumping over bottomless pits and ducking under flying saucers.
What I don’t like about the game is that if you ever hit any obstacle you have to restart the level. For the less coordinated of us, this makes it a bit frustrating, even when the levels are relatively short. The reason is that the levels must be unlocked in sequence. Last night, I found myself stuck on the same mission for about an hour and the song was starting to drive me insane. Ahh! I kinda wish that the game had a non-linear progression system, so that if a particular level is stumping you you can choose a different one.
All in all, I find the game fun, if a little frustrating. I recommend small doses for the average gamer, but the talented or masochistic may be able to endure more. The music alone is worth the purchase.
Also, the game has pretty colors. Yay!