|Platforms||Windows, WiiWare, 3DS|
|Genre||Out of rhythm platformer|
VVVVVV and NightSky both featured great musical soundtracks to back their platforming efforts, but Bit.Trip Runner is essentially a rhythm game with the platforms serving the soundtrack. Developed by Gaijin Games and released on WiiWare in 2010 and Windows in 2011, Bit.Trip Runner attempts to marry the sounds of Guitar Hero and the auto-running of Canabalt.
Nate originally reviewed Bit.Trip Runner last year and deemed it the “anti-rhythm game”, he awarded it an average score and went on to call it stressful. Steve chimed in in the comments section a few months ago and agreed with Nate’s assessment, but for whatever reason, I decided to play it myself.
I didn’t actually beat Bit.Trip Runner, but I made it to the third to last level before finally giving up, so I feel like writing a “full” review is still legitimate, either way, full disclosure.
Nate was really spot on with his review: actually paying attention to the rhythm and music of Bit.Trip Runner will mess you up. The game is played by guiding Captain Video from left to right as he automatically runs across screen. You can jump, slide, kick, spring, and block your way to victory, but moving yourself manually left and right is forbidden. If you hit something, you’re instantly sent back to the beginning of the stage, much like NightSky and Super Meat Boy.
But since our hero runs the same speed no matter what, messing up on the last jump of a level can mean another two minute run facing all the same obstacles as last time. Repeatedly dying at the same spot deep in the level? Too bad, it’ll still take 90 seconds to try it again.
The music doesn’t properly sync up with your actions, for example you often get no musical feedback on many of your actions, or it syncs up too far after you pressed the right button. This means that you get no aural clue on whether or not you’re timing your jumps or kicks right. It’s all a crapshoot that requires you to basically ignore the beat of the music to pull off correctly.
The biggest problem is that the hit detection is atrocious. For a game that is both platformer and rhythm game, it seems insane that the developers couldn’t nail down proper collision detection. I can’t tell you how many times I died because I apparently made Captain Video jump too early and only his back leg hit whatever I was jumping over, or I didn’t duck early enough and hit something ten pixels in front of me. Nothing is more frustrating that bad collision detection in a platformer and the problem is exacerbated by the total non-rhythm you’re expected to follow.
When you actually are doing well on a level, Bit.Trip Runner can be pretty fun. If you can somehow zone out on an easier level and listen to the music, it’s pretty well written, just horribly choreographed in game. I wouldn’t mind listening to the soundtrack independently if it didn’t remind me of the righteous anger I experienced while playing the game.
So somehow VVVVVV and NightSky, two games that are more about the platforming experience than the music behind it, do a better job meshing the two than Bit.Trip Runner, the supposedly proper rhythm/platforming mash-up. Disappointing, to say the least.
I agree with the rest of Nate’s review, but I wanted to personally express my thoughts on the game, should have listened to my friends’ advice in the first place and never played Bit.Trip Runner.