Thursday, February 10, 2011


Everything comes from nothing.
Nothing comes from something.
Life is rhythm.
Rhythm is life.
It will all make sense
once we return to nothing.
Our BIT.TRIP has started.

In celebration of the upcoming final part, we will review the BIT.TRIP series by Gaijin Games. BIT.TRIP consists out of 6 parts. Today, we will review the first both games of the series, BIT.TRIP BEAT and BIT.TRIP CORE. In case you want to check them out, they are available on the WiiWare store for the small fee of 600 Wii Points. If you want BEAT but don't own a Wii, it was also released on the iOSes, but since the controls were criticized I suggest grabbing for PC/Mac on Steam.

The hero of the BIT.TRIP
series: CommanderVideo.
Space... the final frontier. These are the voyages of CommanderVideo. His continuing mission: To make people rage. Hard. The story of the BIT.TRIP games is told in short cutscenes and the animated backgrounds of the stages. It's hard to look at those while there are 10 beats per second flying on your paddle, though. You probably won't even be able to make sense of the story on your first playthrough. And even after a couple more, it still won't be easy.

Let's play "Keep track of all the flying stuff
on the screen"! ... You lost!
The gameplay can be best described as “Pong versus a machine gun”. By tilting the Wiimote, you can move your paddle up and down, reflecting “beats” which are being launched at you from the right. There are multiple kinds – the ones going straight, the wall-bouncers, the juggling beats, the stuttering beats, the wave beats, the trail beats, and the paddle-stopping beats – luckily you can differ every beat, as they all have a unique color. It starts off easy with slow beats, but later in the 3 stages – TRANSITION, DESCENT and GROWTH - you won't get a break from the massive onslaught.

“3 stages” makes the game sound pretty short, but considering every stage is 15 minutes long and if you fail, you have to replay the entire stage, it sounds a lot longer. This game is unforgiving. If you always fail at the part which appears 7 minutes in, you have to replay these 7 minutes every time. It can be frustrating as hell if you aren't a person who likes really hard games like this.

By leveling up into MEGA, your multiplier
will increase as long as you hit beats
– but miss 5 beats and it gets reset.
As this is a rhythm game, the music is a big part of the experience. And this game does not let you down. Oh no. On a scale of 0 to 5, this soundtrack gets a solid 10. Chiptune beats play in the background, and every beat hit plays a note. Every transition you pass adds a new layer to the background music. If you miss enough beats, you get leveled down into NETHER mode, where the music is off and beeps are just played through the Wiimote. If you manage to avoid a game over, the music instantly kicks in again. On the contrary, if you hit enough beats you get into MEGA mode, which makes your score skyrocket and makes music and graphics even BIT.TRIP-pier.

As soon you finally beat the (incredibly hard) boss of the final level, you are done here. The odd story is concluded in the ending – and suddenly, it all makes sense. The meteor in TRANSITION, the beats, the cutscenes. Relieved because you finally beat those levels, you keep coming back for more; new highscores, and even trying to get the elusive PERFECTs, by hitting every beat. You are competing with your friends who can beat the boss of TRANSITION without missing a beat; who can get a higher score on DESCENT and who can play GROWTH while holding the Wiimote the wrong way. Or, you could just do it to hear the great music again. The only downside is that it's a game for experienced players – other players will get frustrated easily because of the massive difficulty.


But wait, stop! Move your mouse away from that X button. There's more.
BEAT was just the first step on the Commander's journey. Now, it's time to meet his surroundings. The saga continues with BIT.TRIP CORE - it's 600 Wii Points on the Wii Shop Channel, and will be released soon on Steam.

The menu serves, like in BEAT, as a
tutorial - it will show you the basic
controls and gameplay.
CORE uses a completely different gameplay mechanic than BEAT, removing motion controls and the paddle. Instead, you have a Core in the screen center. By holding the D-Pad in a direction, a beam is sent out. As soon a beat passes by your core, press 2 to turn the beam into a laser, destroying the beat, giving you points and increasing your mode. But still, many elements from the first game were carried over, like the 3 old modes, and a new mode higher than MEGA, called SUPER. And I tell you, this is just for the pros. Your score is increasing rapidly, your multiplier skyrocketing and the music is being continually awesome - until you miss a beat, that is. Because one mistake will send you right back to MEGA again.

You will be in NETHER a lot.
And I mean a LOT.
Again, having a load of different beats you have to return, CORE is a bit harder than BEAT, making it the hardest BIT.TRIP game yet. The game still spans three levels, still 15 minutes each and still as unforgiving as before. If you continue to miss beats and end up in the NETHER and don't manage to get back into HYPER, you're out. Score back to 0, progress back to 0, all effort gone. And then, rage. Luckily, BIT.TRIP CORE is motivating enough to keep you going, even through all of your constant failures. Everytime you fail at the boss, you get more and more tries until you can finally nail the pattern, and subsequently, the boss. Then, you're just so damn happy, you jump right into the next stage. And fail. Again.

Though it got some of the best reviews in the entire series, the developers say CORE is the worst BIT.TRIP game. But that doesn't mean it's bad; it's a really great game, and can easily be counted as one of the best WiiWare exclusives. It's addictive as hell, the bosses are great references to old games like Asteroid, and the music is pretty damn awesome. Especially the soundtrack of the final level, CONTROL. The story is less complex (if you got the story of BEAT it will be way easier), but the music works well with the backgrounds and cutscenes to weave an interesting tale. CORE is a wonderful symbiosis, and despite being - as stated before - the weakest game of the pack, it's definitely worth checking out.


And that's it for today! Check back next Thursday when we review Super Meat Boy, and stay tuned for future reviews of BIT.TRIP VOID and BIT.TRIP RUNNER!

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