Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: Bit.Trip Fate

I got into the Bit.Trip series with Bit.Trip Runner earlier this year. The chiptune soundtrack and fun graphics, melded with the unique style of platforming gameplay really sucked me in and engulfed me. I was consumed by that game until I beat it, but not always a completionist, I didn't even try to best each level, despite knowing that's what the Bit.Trip games are really all about.

So when I heard of this next installment, I may have been behind on the storyline, which there is one. Still I didn’t care. I realized that my Wii’s storage space needed a bit of reorganizing but once I did that, I nabbed Bit.Trip Fate for a measly 800 points and 300 some odd blocks. The start-up screen was familiar and I heard that lovely little sound upon starting the game. For me, the music and sfx in these games is half the fun.

Again, like Runner, the menu was simple and I was able to jump right in. The first level is easy enough but I still found my head boggled as it tried to make sense of all the different projectiles and on-screen assets. I’m not one for shooters of this kind mind you. I like a good FPS but I never cared much for the on-rail shooters, nor the fixed-shooter classics like Galaga. Here I was, playing a mix of both the latter. Weirdly enough, I really enjoyed the mix of these two genres into one here. While the scrolling level reminded me of those damn annoying levels in Super Mario Bros. 3, I felt it was necessary to keep me from camping out in one spot. There was a lot of “dual viewing” from me, where I had to literally keep my eyes on two separate spots on the screen at the same time. It’s kind of like when you’re driving a car and focused on what’s in front of you and yet you subconsciously know what’s on the side of you at the edge of your vision. This really gets you focused into the action.

As the level progressed, I started getting new power-ups but not really being sure why. I saw Super Meat Boy in there helping out Commander Video, but I know little about him besides he’s the star of an upcoming (and equally intriguing) game. As you begin to learn the patterns of the enemies, you begin to develop a sixth sense and your own natural strategy begins to kick in. The game gradually picks up pace, even in the first level alone. Another fun thing about the game is how the enemies die to the music. Those little touches make these Bit.Trip games something special in that sense alone.

At the end of the level I fought a boss. The letters B.O.S.S. scrolled across the screen and I was giddy considering the excitement I remembered from the last time this happened, in Runner. I had a simple sin wave to move on while the boss could move any which way he pleased. Of course he had his patterns, both in movement and also in projectiles. It was easy to spot the patterns in this first round but in true Bit.Trip fashion, it was tricky to time it right and to slide past while still keeping your aim on the boss. Again, there was that dual viewing, keeping your eyes on two places at once.

I scored a whopping 57,316,500 points… who knows if this is good or not for the first level though. I’m not one to care about high scores ever, so I know that aspect of the game will go over my head. Still I know that those who do care about high scores will find this game to be perfect. Each run through even the same levels will come out a little different every time so there’s always room for improvement. That was a complaint I’ve heard with Runner, how Runner had a finite score for the end of a level. This was great for people who wanted to be completionists, but not for those who wanted to always be competing for the high scores. Bit.Trip Fate fixes that and goes back to the scoring style of the previous three games.
At least early on, I found the levels to be rather easy compared to the boss battles but really the trick there too is memorization. The overall difficulty seems to lie lower than Runner to a point but I think it's because you have more options on how to attack the levels themselves. There is still a lot of frustration that might be too annoying for some gamers. I teeter on that line, and I think in some weird way that's what keeps me coming back. These games are the kings of making me rage quit, I'll tell you that. Still though, I return.

All in all, I’m satisfied with my download and excited to proceed to the bitter end. The first three Bit.Trip games might have missed me but Runner and Fate have both capture my attention and I eagerly anticipate the sixth and final installment in the Bit.Trip series. Who knows though, there’s rumors they’re already working with the 3DS… which would be something incredible.

How badly did you beat my score? Tell me in the comments so I can try to one up you, only to be one upped back I’m sure.

The Verdict:

If you liked any of the previous Bit.Trip games, you'll likely enjoy this one too. Even as someone who isn't a fan of this genre, I still find myself invested in this title. Glad I picked it up and I thank Gaijin Games for being so fresh and unique in an all-too-often stale gaming market.

What I liked:
Continues the distinct graphical style of previous Bit.Trip games, gameplay is fun and mellow while being challenging and suspenseful.

What I didn't like:
Music is lacking, especially compared to the ear-sex of Runner.


  1. I got 87 million in level one last night, but then again I have a leg up.

  2. Touche to you sir! I've been able to better my scores but I know I'll never be like some of the high-score-pro's that are out there.