Inside Pulse 12

Review: Bit.Trip Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (PC)

Bit.Trip Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
Publisher: Gaijin Games
Developer: Gaijin Games
Genre: Rhythm/Platformer
Release Date: 02/26/2013

I have mixed feelings on rhythm games: I enjoy them, but I have varied success with them. When I picked up Bit.Trip Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I own the first game but hadn’t had the chance to play it yet. As such, I didn’t know whether I would love or hate this game. Turns out, it seems like just about anyone can play this game. It’s beautifully designed and has adjustable difficulties (Quite Easy, Just Right, Quite Hard) for those who need it to be a little easier or for those looking for more of a challenge. If you’re really trying to step up your game, in some levels you can choose a more difficult path, which often has a reward; however, there is no penalty for choosing either a lower difficulty or an easier path.

In Runner2, you’re back in action as CommanderVideo, who has to track down the Timbletot across four worlds (each with their own boss) in order to stop him from destroying every world there is. Questions about where Timbletot would live if he destroyed every world aside, the plot isn’t entirely important to the game. What is important here is the gameplay. The actual point of the game is to pick up gold bars, health icons, keys, and chests. You might think that because you move forward automatically, this game is basically the stereotypical poorly-done iOS title, but in order to do what you need to do, you’ll need to jump, slide, kick, and dance to the music. The game assumes you will be competent enough to get the controls after slowly introducing each new move throughout the levels. It’s a delightfully complex way to get the job done, yet not so much you get confused. You’ll also have opportunities to unlock other characters and costumes along the way, if you somehow get bored of what you’re looking at now.

I’m not kidding when I say the game looks great. The colors are complimentary and warm and the character design amusing. Want to go retro (like, Atari retro)? You’ve got that option too. What’s better though, is that the game sounds great. You’ve got awesomely cheesy narration which is somehow not overdone. The music is actually what gets you through the game, as the way you interact with each level changes the way the music sounds. Jump over or slide under a bad guy and you’ll hear notes play. If you miss a gold bar, you’ll notice from the lack of a chime. Pick up the health icons and the music becomes more complex. Hit checkpoints (or not) and save your spot in case you make a mistake. It’s wonderful. It actually helps when playing as well. I would zone out and just do what I needed to, anticipating the rhythm of the music in order to help me work on my timing. It’s a bit difficult to get into words, so here’s a video to try to help convey what I mean.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKZbRnmK2e4]

If you manage to get through the level with all the gold bars and the health icons, you nab yourself a perfect and will be put into a cannon at the end of the level so you can launch at a target. Hit the bullseye, and you’ll nab yourself a Perfect+. The goal here, for those who like to challenge themselves, is to get Perfect+ for every difficulty of every level. You don’t need to do this to win the game, but it will get you a few achievements. There are also a few bonus levels that may require you to have a certain amount of gold or some other requirement  but these are all optional and don’t interfere with your ability to complete the game.

My only complaint about the gameplay is that sometimes I will press a button and won’t get a response at all, even if I’m, say, jumping off the ground. (I wouldn’t, for example, expect to be able to jump while I’m already in the air, since double jumping isn’t a thing in this game, at least that I ran into.) I’m guessing this is probably more a timing part on my part, but it is something that I noticed and wasn’t terribly fond of.

I wish I could expand more upon Runner2, but honestly, the message is simple: This game isn’t just a conglomeration of a bunch of parts… It’s an entire package. The charming atmosphere the game creates, as well as the intensity and enjoyable gameplay, make this game worth getting, even for people who maybe aren’t the best at rhythm games or have had negative experiences in the past. It’s addictive, it’s pleasing to the senses, and overall, just a good time.

Short Attention Span Summary
This game isn’t just a conglomeration of a bunch of parts… It’s an entire package. The charming atmosphere the game creates, as well as the intensity and enjoyable gameplay, make this game worth getting, even for people who maybe aren’t the best at rhythm games or have had negative experiences in the past. It’s addictive, it’s pleasing to the senses, and overall, just a good time.