The Bit.Trip games on WiiWare were some of the best downloadable titles for the Wii. Each one was different, yet they all had a few things in common. Like the retro 80’s look and gameplay sensibilities, and they all implemented music into the game somehow. Now one of the games in the series, Bit.Trip Runner, is getting a sequel! Commander Video is back and ready to run, jump, slide, and collect as much gold as he can and reach the end of the level in this 2-D platform action challenge. Bit.Trip Runner 2 (which is what I’m going to call it from now on since the title is a bit long), is available to download on PC, PSN, Xbox 360, and Wii U (Wii U version reviewed here).
Just like the first game, Commander Video automatically runs from left to right, and you must guide him so he doesn’t hit any obstacles. Jump over enemies and pits, slide under flying robots, kick down blockades, and even pull out a block paddle to reflect cubes, just like Bit.Trip Beat! You can even combine some moves to bypass obstacles, like jumping and sliding or sliding and kicking at the same time. And when you’re not doing any of that, you can press a button to dance as you run, which can help boost your score.
Scattered about the 2-D levels are piles of gold. Try to collect as many as you can in each stage. Gold helps you unlock secret levels. And if you collect all the gold in a stage, you’ll get a chance to blast Commander Video with a cannon at a target to boost your score even higher. Collecting red plus signs also help increase your score. Some levels even have hidden keys and treasure chests which contain other unlockable goodies like secret playable characters and costumes. My favorite secret hidden items are these game cartridges you can find in some of the levels. Touch one and you’ll be whisked away to a retro themed level that looks like an old 8- or 16-bit game, specifically Adventure Island. But all the secrets are very well hidden, so you’ll be playing quite a bit if you want to find them all.
In the first Bit.Trip Runner game, if you missed a jump or got hit, you’d be sent back to the very beginning of the level. That got pretty annoying at times. Luckily in the sequel, there is a checkpoint about halfway through the level. But you can choose to jump over the checkpoint turnstile if you like, which can help increase your score. The game is still as unforgiving as ever, even on the easiest settings, so gamers not as experienced in quick platforming challenges may get a bit frustrated.
The only other big difference here are the graphics. The original Bit.Trip games had a retro, blocky look to them. But the sequel has all 3-D modern visuals. While it loses some of its retro charm, the graphics are still nice and remind me of a mix of Loco Roco, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and Super Mario…if that makes any sense. Speaking of which, they even got Charles Martinet, voice actor of Mario, to do an announcer voice for Bit.Trip Runner 2, which gives the game an extra bit of charm and polish. And just like the first game, music plays an important part, as each of your actions is done in time with the beat, and every move adds a note to the song. While a bit frustrating at times, Bit.Trip Runner 2 is a very charming and polished title that feels like a full game even though it’s download only. If you enjoyed the first one, you’ll definitely want to pick up the sequel. It’s especially great on the Wii U since it has the option to play on the controller touch screen, and it’s nice to have a good new Wii U game since there aren’t very many right now.
Bit.Trip Runner 2 is rated T for Teen with an ESRB descriptor of Crude Humor. Honestly I haven’t seen too much of any kind of crude humor in the game yet, unless it’s in a cutscene later on. I’d be OK with any kid playing it, honestly. Reading skill isn’t needed, as most every tutorial has picture cues to let you know what to do, and it’s pretty easy to figure out just by playing. But the game itself is certainly not easy, and many kids (and adults) might get frustrated at the high difficulty. But it’s still a good game if you don’t mind a bit of a challenge.