If there’s any game in the BIT.TRIP saga that you’re likely to know about, it’s BIT.TRIP RUNNER. There’s a good reason for that, as it’s easily one of the highlights of the series, and the only one that’s spawned its own spin-off.
BIT.TRIP RUNNER has the player controlling Commander Video as he automatically runs to the right. You need to jump, slide, kick and block your way through some really challenging levels to some awesome music to get to the end. Runners are fairly commonplace now so explaining it might seem redundant, but BIT.TRIP RUNNER is one of the best runners I’ve played, even if it did make me want to snap my Switch in half on more than one occasion (1-11 Odyssey I’m looking at you).
In regards to the ongoing story of the BIT.TRIP series, I’ll be completely honest and say that this one really didn’t do anything for me. Perhaps it was the greater focus on gameplay, but there’s not really any interesting themes that jump out to me here, beyond the fact that it sets up FATE’s premise.
It’s really all about the gameplay and music here, and that’s fine because both are fantastic. It may be pretty simplistic by having you automatically running on a screen, but the amount of obstacles you have to avoid is where things get interesting. There are also collectibles to be found throughout which makes things even harder.
Each level usually takes a specific obstacle and messes around with it, such as having crystals you need to break down and slowly evolving the concept to having to jump-kick it. It’s nothing too complicated, but it’s a lot of fun and the accompanying tracks are some of the strongest in the series. I’ll also say that RUNNER has the best boss battles of the whole series, as they’re all hard-as-nails and use the game’s mechanics really well.
I’ll say the same thing I said about VOID for RUNNER – it uses the music to compliment the gameplay very well and vice versa. Perhaps even more so here due to the fact that you can’t really make any mistakes. The music has to happen in a certain way, which makes it feel fine-tuned. Fun fact, Anamanaguchi actually appears in this one too, which I appreciated as a big fan of Scott Pilgrim vs the World the Game.
The difficulty of the BIT.TRIP series is something I’ve talked about in every review so far, but that’s because it’s a big part of its identity. I would say that RUNNER is easily the peak, as it demands close to perfection to get through each level. Whilst in every other game you can miss notes and beats and simply pick yourself back up, in this game you have to learn the level and get through it without any failures.
That’s not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, but it definitely makes RUNNER a bit more frustrating than the rest, especially considering that it’s easily the most packed game in the series. Sure, each stage technically takes less than a minute but the amount of time it takes to perfect them makes the whole thing feel a lot longer.
One of the biggest things that separates RUNNER from the rest of the series is the fact that it feels like it has a really good amount of content. For all the praise I’d heap on BEAT and VOID for being simplistic and quick, I’d also say that they occasionally felt like phone games for the amount of playtime you’d get out of them. This game still isn’t long, but it definitely feels like it’ll occupy more of your time than the others.
If there was one BIT.TRIP game I had to recommend to a general audience, it would be BIT.TRIP RUNNER. It’s definitely the hardest game of the series and doesn’t necessarily do too much that’s exciting, but it’s still great fun and serves as the best introduction to what the series is all about.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by QubicGames