HomeReviews4.5/5 ReviewBIT.TRIP RERUNNER Review

BIT.TRIP RERUNNER Review

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There’s a saying that does the rounds, one that you’ll probably be familiar with if you listen to our podcast. “Never go back”. It just so happens that sometimes I agree with this sentiment, and other times I don’t.

One of the great advantages of remakes, re-releases, remasters and the like is the opportunity for a cult classic, or hidden gem, to get a second chance. The BIT.TRIP series of games deserve this opportunity for sure. And lo, here we are.

BIT.TRIP RERUNNER focuses on one of the more substantial entries in the series, released way back for WiiWare (remember that?) the online indie service for the Nintendo Wii. The combination of rhythm and platforming aims to test your reflexes as the athletic grouping of pixels, known as CommanderVideo, gets his running shoes on.

BIT TRIP RERUNNER review 1
There’s some beauty to BIT.TRIP RERUNNER

To begin with, there are more than thirty levels set across three different locations, and the aim is straightforward – Sprint to the finish line, avoid the obstacles, collect the gold and power-ups. That’s the beauty of BIT.TRIP RERUNNER; like all good game mechanics it looks and sounds simple but is far from easy.

There are three different difficulties which are described as “densities”, that is, of what’s thrown at you. I played on the regular option and found it to be a good balance, definitely getting more challenging in the later stages. You can change this between levels at any time, with the simple push of a button.

CommanderVideo runs automatically so your job is to hit the inputs in time to ensure he reaches the goal unimpeded. His various abilities are gradually drip fed to you level by level. You’ll begin simply by jumping over obstacles, before graduating to kicking through them, sliding under them, springing high up into the air over them, and more.

These moves are all mapped to different buttons on your controller, so once you get your head around the layout, you’ll be hitting these “inputs” in time with the music according to the dangers that appear on screen.

This gradual but smooth development of the gameplay adds complexity, and tests your processing power to hit the right button before you are struck down and forced to start again. Thankfully, death has little consequence, which keeps the tempo as you’re thrown straight back into the action, and there are various checkpoints throughout the levels to ensure substantial progress is never lost.

BIT TRIP RERUNNER review 2
Pretty snazzy

There were some occasions that I fell foul of the heavy handling of CommanderVideo, most notably jumping and colliding with springboards instead of landing on them several times. It did cause some frustration I must admit, but nothing too serious. Instantly respawning never more than a few seconds before death goes some way to taking the sting out of the issues I had with the controls. 

CommanderVideo can also pull off some pretty snazzy dance moves, which will bag you some extra points. There are plenty of well known poses in there, and a few unusual ones too. Not only this but each power up boosts your points multiplier, turbo charges the soundtrack and gives you the best shot at hitting those high scores. Once you hit the “Extra” state, a colourful rainbow trail will follow Commander Video, in a similar fashion to Nyan Cat (look it up kids).

There are plenty of goodies to unlock in BIT.TRIP RERUNNER, depending on how well you perform on each stage. There are oodles of extra levels waiting for you beyond the original set, as well as behind the scenes photos, artwork and more. Oh, and the original game is in there if you want to see where it all started. Groovy.

There are also online leaderboards to post your score to. Now, BIT.TRIP RERUNNER is single player only, which sounds like a disappointment at first. However, the RUNNER MAKER tool allows players to create their own levels, and share them with others around the world. Developers Choice Provisions have added this feature in response to fan requests, and it’s a game changer. The RUNNER MAKER is impressive, allowing so much freedom mapped out across a grid system. Environments, obstacles, enemies and more can be freely placed and experimented with, as you test run your creation with ease through trial and error. However, for me the most exciting part of this new mode is the MUSIC MAKER tool.

As it says on the tin, this allows you to create your own backing track to your level, by placing melody and brass notes as your foundation, before layering your creations using backing tracks and the like. What’s really cool is your music will change and evolve, in line with the power-ups CommanderVideo collects as you play. Now I’m not the most creative type, but even I found it pretty manageable to string together some half decent beats thanks to this pretty powerful tool. That means there’s hope for anyone.

BIT TRIP RERUNNER review 3
BIT.TRIP RERUNNER is TASTY!

As you would expect, in BIT.TRIP RERUNNER the team haven’t just added extra stuff, but have also given the game itself a glow-up. This is certainly the case when it comes to the visuals, and you can see this for yourself if you play the original game once unlocked. 

The silky smooth looks almost blind you with colour, but also retain the block beat glory of the original. The groovy, chiptune soundtrack is a brilliant listen, almost euphoric, and matches the beat of your moves rather pleasingly. This makes playing feel more intuitive, as you can use the sound to guide your actions and the bright use of colour helps distinguish which input you need to hit.

Rhythm action games may not be at the height of popularity they once were, however I’ve always enjoyed them immensely thanks to my love of music. BIT.TRIP RERUNNER reinvigorates a series fifteen years strong and will hopefully bring one of its most enjoyable games to the attention of a new generation of players.

BIT.TRIP RERUNNER isn’t just a remaster, thanks to numerous updates and additions that are present compared to the original game. There’s an awful lot to do beyond the core set of levels which will keep new and existing players happy. 

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Balanced difficulty throughout
  • Loads of extra levels included
  • RUNNER MAKER & MUSIC MAKER tools are ingenious
  • Sounds fantastic
Cons:
  • Heavy controls occasionally frustrate
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Choice Provisions
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review)
  • Release date and price - 29 May 2024 | £16.74
Darren Edwards
Darren Edwards
I have been playing games since a very early age, thanks to my Dad's encouragement. I've been an Xbox gamer since the very beginning, the Master Chief is to thank for that. I'm also a big Nintendo geek, and my other half is a PlayStation nut. I'll play pretty much anything in any genre (although FIFA and COD maybe pushing it).
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Balanced difficulty throughout</li> <li>Loads of extra levels included</li> <li>RUNNER MAKER & MUSIC MAKER tools are ingenious</li> <li>Sounds fantastic</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Heavy controls occasionally frustrate</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Choice Provisions</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review) <li>Release date and price - 29 May 2024 | £16.74</li> </ul>BIT.TRIP RERUNNER Review
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