Bit.Trip Saga/Complete

Bit.Trip had teamed up with Nintendisco, the video game club night, to provide an evening of fun and chiptunes at Camden’s Barfly. Staff in Commander Video T-shirts were on hand to provide guidance and encouragement for those trying out the game. Two Wii pods and one 3DS were available, as well as a Wii hooked up to a projector and the speakers for the venue, meaning that big-screen players were inadvertently providing music for the first half of the evening. Two birds, one stone! Myself and Duncan eagerly rubbed our hands together and dove straight in.

It’s been a long time coming, but Bit.Trip Saga and Complete, collections of all six Bit.Trip games for the 3DS and Wii are finally coming to the UK. The Bit.Trip games have already been released on varying platforms and are available via WiiWare, Steam, and the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad but this time they’re all collected together in one package. Bit.Trip has been around for a while, but it’s simply fitting that the games should be properly collected for Nintendo platforms given Nintendo’s reputation for simple, casual fun. The 3DS version has the added bonus of stylus control for some games and stereoscopic 3D. The game itself, though, is good enough in 2D, so this is more of an extra than anything else.

The secret to Bit.Trip is to pay attention to the music – the chiptune music is a distinctive part of the game. The beat will help you in true rhythm-action style, but you’ll need to keep your eyes and reflexes sharp if you want to keep the music coming! In the more difficult sections of the Bit.Trip games, you’re faced with some eye-meltingly fast action.

The look is very simple and retro, as is the gameplay. Easy to learn but difficult to master is the hallmark of a game like this one so don’t let the cheerful music and Atari-like graphics put you off. We took a quick run-through all of the games, sampling all six in the evening.

Beat was the first Bit.Trip game released and it bears similarities to Pong. You control a paddle and move it up and down to bounce back waves of blocks. On the Wii, you do this by tilting the Wiimote. Duncan said that it became intuitive after a while, and gives the feel of the old Pong tactile paddles. In my eyes, it’s just annoying but that’s because I lack subtle co-ordination.

Core is the game that Duncan hated with the burning of a thousand suns. I actually enjoyed it, but it is one of the most difficult! You are in the middle of the screen as a crosshair and you can aim and fire lasers in four directions. Enemies will come flying at you and you need to time your shots and your aim with the beat in order to destroy them. It gets confusing quickly, though – if you’re no good at prioritising, or if you’re no good at telling your left from your right or your up from your down, then you’ll have a hard time. It takes a ridiculous amount of co-ordination and timing!

In Void you control a black ball. White balls fly around the screen and you avoid them; black balls also fly around and you need to collect them. Collecting them makes you bigger, so you’ll have to ‘pop’ and make yourself smaller at just the right moment to avoid collecting the white balls of doom.

My favourite by far is Bit.Trip Runner, a side-scrolling game where Commander Video is endlessly running and you have to make him avoid obstacles and collect gold. Commander Video can jump, slide and kick, but you’ll have to remember which button makes him do what, and think fast to avoid the onslaught of purple rocks ready to trip him, UFOs ready to abduct him and strange, rock-snake creatures (they look like a pixellated Onix) popping out of caves. Runner is a lot about memory as well as flow – if you fail you’ll be propelled back to the very beginning of the stage and forced to run through everything all over again. The better you do, the more complex the music becomes which might explain why the whole of Nintendisco ended up watching me do really well on level 10, only to let off a collective “Ohhhhh!” when I failed. At the last jump! I got there eventually, though, after many, many retries and hogging of the Wiimote.

Fate is an on-the-rails bullet-hell game. Commander Video scrolls along a rail and you can move him along or backwards in order to avoid a flurry of bullets while throwing out your own attacks. It’s a creative variation on a theme and one of the most distinct from the collection.

Commander Video finally reaches the last stage of his journey with Flux, which is basically Beat but reversed. Somehow, controlling the paddle on the right of the screen makes it difficult, probably because we’re all so used to having things go from left to right. If you can make it through, Commander Video will finally make it home! At least, I think he will anyway. There isn’t really a story but then again, there doesn’t need to be.

The whole series is very addictive. It was difficult to tear yourself away from one to give another title a try, or to give another person a go. What’s quite fun is that in all the Bit.Trip games, the better you do, the more complicated the backgrounds and music become.

What’s so appealing about the Bit.Trip games are their simple-yet-fiendish gameplay and that soundtrack! Chiptuners are in heaven. It was entirely fitting for them to team up with Nintendisco but I think the people playing Bit.Trip on the large screen suddenly found it very distracting when chiptune versions of Thriller or songs from the Tron: Legacy soundtrack were playing. There certainly were a lot more Commander Video deaths! Poor thing, constantly getting hit in the face or the balls with ledges and spiky purple rocks… or even fire.

If you don’t already have any of the Bit.Trip series, then you should seriously consider getting one of them, if not all. If you have a Wii or a 3DS – even better! Get Saga or Complete and save yourself the hassle of multiple downloads.

Bit.Trip Saga/Complete arrives on March 16th.



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One response to “Bit.Trip Saga/Complete”

  1. Duncan avatar

    I agree with all that is written above.

    BUY IT! <3

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