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BIT.TRIP RUNNER (Nintendo WiiWare) Review
Review by 
8.96/10 from 23 user ratings
 
I'm going to write this review in a bit of an unorthodox manner, and start with the music first. In part because music is at the core of the BIT.TRIP games, but also in part so I can pimp my reimagination of the BIT.TRIP RUNNER zone 1 theme song right from the start. Yes, the music in this game is very good, so much so that I sat down with the game, played zone 1 for a bit, and one of the first things that popped into my mind is "I have to work on this song!" I have only done a handful of video game remixes in the past, and these include themes from titles such as Donkey Kong Country 2, Super Metroid, and Mario Kart 64. I only pick the best.

But uh... you will probably want to listen to some of the original music, because my talents aren't nearly as good as those of Anamanaguchi, who composed the music for this game. And I feel like it would be severely selling the music short to only link to my version of the song.

As for the game itself, I really feel like Gaijin Games have come into their own with this release. BIT.TRIP BEAT was one of my favorite WiiWare games upon its release, and I liked CORE and VOID as well (though to a lesser extent than BEAT), but all of those games suffered a bit from feeling like they could have been more than what they were, whether through expanding the concepts or just adding more content. RUNNER, on the other hand, feels like a total package from start to finish.


The graphics are a lot easier to follow than certain past BIT.TRIP games...

Apparently the entire BIT.TRIP series is supposed to represent, taken as a whole, the epic saga of "life" itself, and if this is the case, RUNNER makes an awful lot of sense. RUNNER could be said to represent the early years of life, when we are full of energy and zeal and believe that the solution to all problems, no matter how difficult, is to run at them full force, and when we fail, to get right back up and run at them full force again. As most of us adults have learned over the years, this is not a sustainable approach to problem solving (and BIT.TRIP fans learn this in the recently released FATE), but hey, there is nothing wrong in reveling in the idealism of youth for a bit, is there? That is part of the appeal of video games, after all.

Alright, all of this theory is nice, but you probably want to hear a bit about the actual gameplay at some point, right? Basically, you take control of a character called CommanderVideo, and you never, ever stop running. This takes the impetus of having to move right out of your hands; instead you only have to react. Obstacles will come, and you can jump, slide, kick and block your way through (you gain these powers gradually throughout the course of the game), but what you can't do is slow down and think about what to do next. RUNNER is 99% about reflexes and execution, you can either make the right move at the right time, or you will get hit by an obstacle or run into a wall and get sent back to the beginning of the stage.

Speaking of, if you are familiar with previous BIT.TRIP games, the gameplay is broken up a bit more than in the past. Instead of three long stages, there are three zones that are each broken up into many stages. This was a necessary decision for the type of game RUNNER is, and it helps to make it feel like a fuller product as well.

The game starts off fairly easy, teaching you the basics over the course of the first few stages. But don't be fooled, it gets hard as nails soon enough. You will be leaping over pits, dodging enemies, kicking down gates, sliding through tight spots, jumping off trampolines, and on and on, all of this requiring near perfect execution. You are going to find yourself failing over and over, but this won't be as frustrating as it may sound, because when you die you are immediately warped back to the beginning of the stage and CommanderVideo starts running without delay. The whole process is super fluid and keeps you actively involved in the game no matter how difficult things may get.


I wish rainbows followed me around everywhere I went...

Because CommanderVideo is always running at the same pace, Gaijin was able to create an experience where the action in the gameplay always matches the beat of the music. Combined with the interactive music and sound effects, and some really sublime stage design, you can start to reach an almost zen-like state while playing where you no longer feel like you are controlling a character, but that you are involved in an interactive piece of music where every motion and beat comes together in perfect harmony. For a fan of electronic music and music creation like myself, this is pretty much a dream come true.

If you're looking for a bit of a more hardcore experience, you can try to play for high score, which involves more than just surviving. Each stage has both bonus items and gold bars strewn about, and although collecting these does not change the core gameplay at all, they will both add to your score, and the bonus items will change the music into a more full, remixed version (sweet!) while the gold bars will, upon collecting all of them in any given stage, unlock a challenging retro stage to play at the end. The game misses a big opportunity here with the lack of online leaderboards, but there is enough dedication to this game that there are certain threads in certain forums *cough* where you can compare scores with others.

I love BIT.TRIP RUNNER and so does the rest of the Negative World. It is currently in the #1 spot of our top 10 WiiWare games list, even beating out Mega Man 9 and World of Goo. I recommend it to pretty much anyone, but I give out my highest recommendations for fans of electronic music and those that are interested in the dynamic synthesization of gameplay and music, who will find a gem here that is unlike anything else.

Check it out for yourself and tell me that doesn't look awesome.


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Posted: 11/28/10, 06:32:14  - Edited by 
 on: 04/08/13, 01:35:50    
 
Why not sign up for a (free) account and create your own content?
 
Great remix and great review. I was just thinking a couple minutes ago about how I need some BIT.TRIP nourishment in the form of anything related to BIT.TRIP.


Posted by 
 on: 11/28/10, 06:39:25
I was gonna say... did Anamanaguchi compose the music for this game? But I got my answer. Loved the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack anyway and this may just convince me to get the game. I was already interested in it due to it being a heck of a lot better in the visuals department compared to previous games in the series but it also looks like a ton of fun. I still have money sitting in my account so this should be my next purchase, whenever I decide to boot up my Wii.


Posted by 
 on: 11/28/10, 06:42:16
Great game, and a key installment in the series. Everyone should experience Bit.Trip Runner.

VofEscaflowne said:
this should be my next purchase, whenever I decide to boot up my Wii.
So, you need another reason to turn on your Wii?


Posted by 
 on: 11/28/10, 06:43:25  - Edited by 
 on: 11/28/10, 06:46:02
Loved Anamanaguchi's soundtrack to the Scott Pilgrim game. Will probably pick this game up for the tunes alone. I'll wait 'til I clear out some more backlog, though...


Posted by 
 on: 11/28/10, 07:17:13
@anon_mastermind

Well I have a bunch of stuff that I want to play before... stupid backlog


Posted by 
 on: 11/28/10, 07:26:10
"Apparently the entire BIT.TRIP series is supposed to represent, taken as a whole, the epic saga of "life" itself, and if this is the case, RUNNER makes an awful lot of sense. RUNNER could be said to represent the early years of life, when we are full of energy and zeal and believe that the solution to all problems, no matter how difficult, is to run at them full force, and when we fail, to get right back up and run at them full force again. As most of us adults have learned over the years, this is not a sustainable approach to problem solving (and BIT.TRIP fans learn this in the recently released FATE), but hey, there is nothing wrong in reveling in the idealism of youth for a bit, is there? That is part of the appeal of video games, after all."

Very nice analysis... I'm impressed:)


Posted by 
 on: 11/28/10, 08:33:25
One thing that I hate is how the date on negative world and other sites as well can be all arranged. It should always be month/date/year. Period. No room for discussion, arguements, ect. I'm serious. Its been a pet peeve of mine since the first time I every noticed a site letting you re-arrnage the order.

In this thread its easy to figure out cause there is no 27th month. But when you start getting into the lower digits, below 12. Only reason I bring this up cause I was surprised to see that Zero is just now reviewing this game. I would have figured that he had played and reviewed this game long ago, so I scroll down to check the date and arrrrrrrrgh!!!

Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.

First, Listened to your remix, Great job! I actually like that better than the original. No shit! Usually I prefer the original.

BUT, and that a BIG BUTt,I don't agree with this,AT ALL:Combined with the interactive music and sound effects, and some really sublime stage design, you can start to reach an almost zen-like state while playing where you no longer feel like you are controlling a character, but that you are involved in an interactive piece of music where every motion and beat comes together in perfect harmony.

If I could have made it past world 1/11 and had fun with the game, then I would say yes, this is 100% true. And I just didnt try a few times and give up...I actually just went and turned on my Wii to check the amount of time I spent playing Runner, and I put 21 hours and 42 mins into this game and I would say that about 60% of that time was spent triing to get past the last level in World 1 so I could fight the boss and proceed to world 2. I remember when I posted about Runner months ago and I took everyone's advice not to go for all the gold, just focus on completing the level and go for the gold later. And I really didnt spend that much time triing to get all the gold. I played the game that way for about an hour or so on that one level, and I only did so because I had collected all the gold on the previous 10 levels.

Now, think about what I just typed above, almost 22 hours playing this 3 world game. Compare that to the 22 plus hours it took me to complete Resident Evil 4 the very first time I played it. Hey, Im all for a game that challenges me, but this is friggin ridiculous. I experienced nothing close to a Zen-like experience with Runner. What I did experience was a game that put me through living hell and I'm notsure if I will buy one of Gaijin's future games.

I think when I got to level 1/11 I had put around 10 hours or so into this game, and I will admit some of that time was going for all the gold in the bonus levels, so replaying the main levels to get back to some of the bonus levels goes into that time. And hell, lets say I was even at 12 hours when I got to 1/11..that means I spent playing that one level for over 10 hours and could not beat it. And NO, I didnt sit there for 10 hours. I tried playing and beating this level on several different occasions.

Whats frustrating is I really like Runner. I only have downloaded bit trip beat, cuase from what I read about core and void, the gameplay doesn't seem to interest me that much, and after what Runner has done to me, I definatly have no desire to download and play those games. But I will agree with Zero's review until I hit World/Level 1/11. I really love the graphics and the music and gameplay.

To put a level like 1/11 into a game and that early on in the game boggles my mind. They had to know how hard and frustrating that level had to be. I know if I was in the business of making games, I def. would want to challenge people and make them feel they got thier money's worth. Something like level 1/11 is ridiculous. And what even makes it tougher to deal with is many said that its just one of the few levels that hard. I really wanted to see what else the game had to offer as far as the level design in the later levels,ect.

Guess I will never know.


Posted by 
 on: 11/28/10, 09:18:23  - Edited by 
 on: 11/28/10, 18:34:52
My one year old had a beaming smile from start to finish listening to your remix so thumbs up man.


Posted by 
 on: 11/28/10, 09:28:58
What do you know, I'm stupid like that and always end up buying games anyway when I say I'll wait Played through the first world yesterday but didn't get all the gold on each. 1-11, as this thread apparently made clear, was a bitch. I made it to the end with 2 gold pieces missing and it wasn't even any of the tough ones! I do like that once you have it down, it's really all about keeping the rhythm to the beat of the music and not exactly your platforming skills. I'm definitely enjoying it more than BIT.TRIP BEAT but still find that it can get a bit overwhelming with all the background stuff going on and the speed at which you're moving. Oh and those retro challenge levels... WTF!? It would be nice to be able to reattempt them without having to perfect the level before...

EDIT: Haha, I played it today and it's like suddenly everything makes more sense. I got a perfect on the 1-1, 1-2 and 1-3 retro levels on either my first or second try.


Posted by 
 on: 11/29/10, 15:43:26  - Edited by 
 on: 11/29/10, 16:02:37
@gamewizard65 Keep in mind that I said you can start to reach an almost zen-like state, not that you will. It requires getting totally in sync with the game which is, of course, tough if you're getting stuck on a certain part. But man, you really stuck at it that long and couldn't pass the stage?! Wow. I'm not downing your skills or anything, but I think most of us only got stuck on that stage for an hour or so.


Posted by 
 on: 11/29/10, 23:30:34
Great in-depth review Zero! I would love to add this game to my collection... oh, so many games to play.


Posted by 
 on: 11/30/10, 00:50:09
@Zero

I don't think it has anything to do with my skills, cause I would just keep dying at different parts, over and over and over and over and over....again, and again and again...

It was really frustrating. I have no idea why. And you know, I've beaten games like Ikaruga, Super Ghouls and Ghosts and other games that are actually considered tough to beat.

Don't worry, I know you are not downing my skills. Anyways, anon_mastermind pm'd me and I gave him my email address and he sent me his save file for Runner so I could see and play the rest of the game if I so desire. Regardless, one day I will beat that level, if not I will break something and make some inanimate object pay dearly with it's life!

I also know exactly what you typed and I don't think I was ever anywhere close to a zen-like state, except maybe when I first started the game. Sorry I took my frustration out on your review and not the game itself.(ha,ha)

Though, there was a couple of times when I really felt like snapping that Wiimote in half, I do remember a time or two hearing the plastic start to make a creaking noise from the way I was firmly holding and then triing to snap it in half in my hands...and then I realized I would have to fork out $40 for another one, so I spared the wiimote it's life.


Posted by 
 on: 11/30/10, 08:42:14  - Edited by 
 on: 11/30/10, 08:48:06
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