The key to BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner 2 is practice. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. You’ll come to appreciate these wise words as you grit your teeth and try, try, again to achieve that sweet rhythmic perfection found in Gaijin Games’s highly produced sequel.
Raising the stakes in both quality and quantity, Runner 2 (or BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner 2 Future Legend of Rhythm Alien as goes its full self-indulgent title) embraces a vibrant fully 3D world, dropping the 8-bit splendour of its original. Backgrounds are lively with movement; small details glisten with personality, yet the focus on the foreground remains largely at the center stage as obstacles come into view.
The series’ returning star Commander Video returns, jumping, ducking, and kicking his way through each level – every successful action resulting in a plinky, plonky chime. The result is a chip-tune symphony, one that reacts to your mishaps and builds in intensity as you near each finish line.
Commander Video’s skill set has also been bolstered for his first sequel. Loops the loops employ the use of the right analogue stick to trace Commander Video’s movements and later levels introduce rails for you to grind across or hang below.
Leaderboard chasers will no doubt appreciate the ability to tap ZR, making Commander Video boogie through long stretches for additional score points.
Despite all these new activities, Runner 2 isn’t quite the rough ride its predecessor was. A smoother difficulty curve with three difficulty levels to choose from allows newcomers to easily become accustomed to jamming on the Gamepad rather than throwing it against the wall in frustration.
It’s a good thing too. With five worlds, 125 levels, and a campaign narrated by the voice of Mario, Charles Martinet, Runner 2 is a much larger production – one that’s likely to occupy more than just a few hours and demand replays.
Underneath all this new gloss and quirky tale, Runner 2 remains true to its award-winning ancestor. That feeling of nailing a string of obstacles nears euphoric levels of satisfaction whereas its often knockbacks rarely feel unfair.
It takes time to discover Runner 2’s retro-inspired delights but practice really does make perfect for one of the eShop’s better offerings.