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Bit.Trip Complete Review

Usually, when game critics mention ‘synergy’ they use the word to examine how visuals, sound, and control are blended into a pleasingly harmonious experience.  As designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Lumines, Rez, Child of Eden) has demonstrated, meticulously marrying the pace of gameplay to the rhythm of a soundtrack can create a wonderfully immersive experience. Fortunately, Miz’s Q-Games aren’t the only studio to advance this concept. Gaijin Game’s Bit.Trip series has been quietly winning over Wii owners with their deft amalgam of fundamental game mechanics, deliciously pixelated graphics, and plucky chiptunes.

The aesthetics of each of the six games in Bit.Trip Complete radiantly fuse into a spellbinding sensory confection. Beat and Flux serve as the series’ bookends, offering a modernization of Pong’s goal of using a paddle to keep a ball in the playfield. Whereas Atari’s diversion focused on keeping a single ball in play, Bit.Trip presents a constant torrent of swirling spheres. While some orbs approach the player’s racquet along predictable, horizontal trajectories- others follow sweeping sine-wave patterns, or are reflected back as if pulled by gravity. All blocks faultlessly follow the cadence of the game’s driving score.

Bit.Trip Core draws inspiration from two near-forgotten 80’s titles- Space Fortress for the Bally Astrocade and Cosmic Ark for the Atari 2600. Players operate a cross-shaped mechanism in the middle of the screen, capable of firing a laser in the four cardinal directions. With rhythm and accuracy which implore higher-level Guitar Hero precision, players are required to zap flocks of zooming blocks. Fate requires a different type of shooting skill, as players guide the franchise’s mascot- Commander Video, along a twisting track. Using the Wiimote, players move an on-screen reticle to send a steady stream of fire at infringing foes.

The anthology’s other two entries- Bit.Trip Void and Bit.Trip Runner also adapt austere concepts into amazingly addictive games. The former tasks players with managing the growth of an onyx orb.  Every black block makes the protagonist larger, slower and less capable of dodging the surge of harmful white dots. The latter is Gaijin’s interpretation of the platformer, challenging the valiant Commander to jump, slide, and kick through over fifty side-scrolling stages.

Available separately as digital downloads on Nintendo’s WiiWare service, Bit.Trip Complete brings the sextet of titles together with a satisfying selection of supplements. More importantly, the disk links each title together- creating a unified, cohesive package. As such, the franchise’s existential storyline becomes more conspicuous, bolstered by a set of unlockable letters from the game’s development staff. The addition of 120 new mini-challenges, concept art, videos, and online leaderboards for every level elevate Complete to being the consummate Bit.Trip experience.

To further attract the consideration of collectors, Bit.Trip Complete comes with an additional CD containing eighteen remixed songs from the game’s soundtrack. At roughly three minutes per track, each tune condenses the ambiance of each stage into a palpable melody. The only gripe is that the remixes remain loyal to their original recordings; it would have been nice to see the disk transcend its electronic vibes and offer more organic compositions which breach into other genres.

Although the Bit.Trip games are known for having a robust challenge level, Complete allows players to tweak the level of adversity with a two new difficulty settings. Although the ‘easy’ mode softens each title, the term is a bit of a misnomer- none of the games becomes truly temperate. As such, casual players may still find Bit.Trip’s tests a bit punishing.

As music, motion and play mechanics meld into a unified sensation, each of the titles within Bit.Trip Complete offer a remarkably absorbing experience. Collectively, the six games along with a nice selection of enhancements are akin to a director’s cut of a film: an obligatory purchase for curious newcomers as well as a recommended acquisition for devotees who have already downloaded a title or two.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

25 comments

  1. This and Zelda will probably be my last two Wii purchases.

  2. You might want to tell the fine folks playing along at home that this is only $39.99. Otherwise a good review.

  3. Runner was fun, but got a bit frustraing. Still the best of the bunch. Void wasn’t my cup o’ tea.

  4. If it wasn’t for the Bit.Trip series and a about three other games like Fluidity, Wiiware would be a laughable disaster.

    • What was that one they talked about on the podcast, where you are a bird who tried to shit on people’s head. Except they don’t actually show the poop hitting? That was Wiiware, right?

  5. I hope you reviews the 3DS one as well (Saga?). I’d like to take this games on the go.

    • I can’t see how playing Beat and Flux would work with the circle pad or touchscreen. Maybe if it accepted Taito’s paddle controller, but now that there’s no slot, I don’t see a workaround.

  6. How much were these games on Wiiware? If they were more than 8 bucks, you’re getting a good deal considering the extras.

  7. Looks like a game for hipsters.

  8. Does this support the classic controller? Playing Core on a Wiimote kind of sucked because the d-pad doesn’t seem made for fast action games.

  9. Now if they can just bring it to a platform besides the Wii, Steam or the iphone, I can play it!

  10. perfect 420 game.

  11. I’ve been looking forward to this. I call my local Gamestop to see if they have any copies.

    “Did you preorder it?” they ask.

    “No”, I say.

    “Then I don’t have any copies”

    I tell them the last time I preordered a game (SMT: DSO) they sold my copy before I got a change to pick it up, ONE DAY later.

    “yeah, that happens sometimes” was the reply.

    Thank god for Amazon and not dealing with people.

  12. “Bit.Trip Core draws inspiration from two near-forgotten 80’s titles- Space Fortress for the Bally Astrocade and Cosmic Ark for the Atari 2600.”

    I’ve never even heard of those games. Bally had a system? WTF?

  13. Of the two BIT.TRIP games I played (Runner and Beat) I liked them both.

  14. Good review. I can wait for a sale, though.

  15. Ok, Sears say they carry the game

    http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_05841397000P?sid=IDx20070921x00003h&srccode=cii_5784816&cpncode=21-163669015-2

    But it’s not in stock online or in any store. Anyone know if this wil change, I have a $50 gc I want to use.

    • I’d avoid Sears if you really want the game and find a game-oriented store. Maybe you can save the gift card for something else.

      • Pants and tools. Sears is good for buying pants and tools.

        • Their Craftsman tools no longer have the same guarantee where if it break you could take it back to the store. Now you have to mail it away. They also aren’t as built well as they used to be.

          Their pants I can vouch for.