It always excites me when a developer decides to take a step back, look at the stale ideas we see every day on the Mac App Store and then decide to put a new spin on a concept, or maybe combine two ideas into one. BIT.TRIP.RUNNER combines two entirely different genres and creates a unique and intriguing experience. It’s just a shame that the developers didn’t push this concept to the max.
BIT.TRIP.BEAT takes an endless runner formula and adds a rhythm vibe to it. You’re this 8-bit robot (for lack of a better description) who earns a living running sideways and collecting coins. Just like most endless runners, you’ll have to avoid obstacles by executing certain manoeuvres, whether it be kicking down a pink crystal shard in your way, or triggering a jump pad to send you flying up into the air. But all the time you’re doing this, you’re rocking to some retro-inspired tracks that evolve as you play.
Whenever you collect a coin or jump over a chasm, a single note plays in the background to denote your miniature success. If you manage to collect all of the coins in succession and get past all of the obstacles, you will have created your own little tune to listen along to. What’s more, if you collect a red cross then the tempo changes and music gets faster and more frantic.
Despite being a solid concept with a breadth of opportunity to be explored, the game doesn’t create the same sense of satisfaction or enjoyment musically that you might get with something like Guitar Hero. You have little control over the music you make, and even the sound you create is pretty underwhelming, like a toddler who has just learnt to play ‘Happy Birthday’ on the school piano. It’s invigorating when you hit a red cross as the music does get harder and faster, but that isn’t enough to get you moving along with the music.
Instead, BIT.TRIP.RUNNER is much more successful as an endless runner with its rhythm origins only playing a small part in the whole experience. BIT.TRIP.RUNNER is a brilliant endless runner that introduces new moves slowly yet isn’t afraid of getting a bit tricky as you progress. With no checkpoints in any of the levels, there’s no doubt that some ‘bang your head against the keyboard’ moments will occur. The boss fights are fun, and graphics wise, the retro look suits the game well. The art-style may look odd at first, especially as there is no explanation as to who you are, where you are and the motives behind your actions, but this only adds to the game’s eccentricity and keeps the game fresh and appealing.
But with the smooth visuals comes a little bit of lag. There are 3D models all over the screen (with most of them, not actually necessary to the gameplay itself) and this can cause the game to stutter a fraction. Although almost unnoticeable, it can cause you to just mistime your jump which is annoying.
BIT.TRIP.RUNNER set its sights on being quirky and original, and in some cases it has achieved this agenda. But, its concept seems unexplored still and the game doesn’t push the lid on what could have been. Despite this, I can still recommend BIT.TRIP.RUNNER as an excellent endless runner that really aims to challenge all those dedicated to the genre.
Publisher: Gajin Games
Price: $4.99 (£2.99)
Description: An Endless Runner that Tries to Incorporate some Rhythm
Pros: A very challenging endless runner, obscure visual design, simple to learn, hard to master.
Cons: Can stutter at times, does not fulfil its potential as being a rhythm game.