Bit.Trip Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien – The PS3 Attitude Review
Bit.Trip Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is the ingeniously named sequel to Bit.Trip Runner; an endless running game that originally launched in May 2010, as part of the Bit.Trip series on WiiWare. Three years later, developer Gaijin Games has granted our wish and brought their latest game to the European PS Store, but can it match the heights of its predecessor?
‘Today’s thrilling episode is brought to you in part by Sir Roosh’s After Dinner Mince – what a flavour!’ Is there any better way to introduce a videogame? If there is, we don’t want to know about it. Fair enough, it admittedly says nothing about the actual gameplay, but it reveals a lot about Gaijin Games’ sense of humour, which is an inherent part of Runner2.
As with the original, CommanderVideo is constantly running to the right of the screen, speeding through life and taking nothing in. By using simple button presses, the player’s job is to make sure he makes it to the end of each level without falling into any gaps or hitting any obstacles. Well, we say ‘simple’ button presses, but it doesn’t take long for things to get much more complicated.
By the end of just the first of five worlds, you’ll be using X to jump over gaps, down on the d-pad to slide under obstacles, square to kick barricades, up to spring on boards and right to block projectiles, and more moves are being added all the time. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but once everything clicks you’ll be surprised by the complex sequences you can pull off.
Scattered around each level are various collectibles, the most important of which are piles of gold bars and red plusses. Collecting all of these in a level will reward you with a Perfect rating, as well as the chance to earn a Perfect+ by shooting Commander Video out of a cannon in order to hit a giant target. If you miss the bullseye, you miss the chance for a Perfect+, and probably get very angry.
Runner2 harks back to a time when simply being ‘good’ at a game wasn’t necessarily enough to be able to complete it; a certain amount of trial and error is needed to learn the locations of tricky jumps or fiendishly-placed obstacles. Getting Perfect runs frequently requires you to know levels inside out, as most only include a lone checkpoint (unless you choose to skip it for extra points!).
And things don’t stop there. Getting a Perfect+ on all three difficulties (Quite Easy, Just Right and Rather Hard) is known as a Triple Perfect+; a feat that is much harder to achieve than it sounds. Difficulties aren’t stackable, so to unlock every Triple Perfect+ in the game you’ll need to earn a Perfect+ on all 100 levels on all three difficulties, for a total of 300 levels in all.
That endeavour will likely take dozens of hours, but it’s still only the tip of the iceberg of what else there is to do in Runner2. With 16-bit style Retro levels, unlockable characters and costumes, optional paths, alternate exits, secret levels, achievement-style challenges, online leaderboards, a full stats system and more, there’s always something new to discover.
Although this is an endless running game, the Bit.Trip series is grounded in rhythm-based gameplay. In Runner2, performing the right move at the right time or grabbing a collectible will add a note or other effect to the awesome soundtrack. Likewise, the environments are full of colour and imagination, so the game is almost as entertaining to watch (and listen to) as it is to play.
Throughout the game, the story is narrated by Charles Martinet, the legendary voice actor behind the characters of Mario, Luigi, Wario and many others, primarily in Nintendo titles. He must only have a couple of dozen lines in the entire game, so the fact that he makes such a huge impression is a massive testament to both his own talent and the sharp writing.
Arriving alongside the main game in Europe is the Good Friends DLC, which adds six playable characters, bringing the total amount (on PS3) to 14. The list of new characters reads like a who’s who of awesome indie game protagonists, and you can tell the guys at Gaijin Games had great fun and put a lot of work into transplanting them into the game.
The included characters are Josef from Machinarium, the Spelunky Guy from Spelunky, Dr. Fetus from Super Meat Boy, Razputin from Psychonauts, and Quote from Cave Story. And finally, there’s Invisible CommanderVideo; although we have a feeling only masochists will choose to play as him, owing to the fact that he is extremely difficult to see, making the game even harder.
From the fantastic presentation to the insanely addictive gameplay, every aspect of Runner2 is so finely tuned that it’s difficult to imagine how it could possibly have been improved. It’ll take a huge amount of time to complete everything and discover all the game’s secrets, so there’s more than enough content here to justify the already great price of £7.99/€9.99.
Bit.Trip Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien will be available on the European PlayStation Store from later today, along with a playable demo – so go and check it out!