At an Expo like the ones put on by Penny Arcade, nothing draws me in more quickly than free merchandise. No, I don't need more buttons, and after getting 21 free t-shirts at PAX in Seattle ? after the first 7, it turned into something of a game ? my closet would probably evict me if I came home with more. But when I see a mousepad with breasts on which to rest my wrist, I can't help but be drawn in. This is how the special edition mousepad for Record of Agarest War lured me to Aksys Games at PAX East, but it was Bit.Trip Runner that truly held me captive.
Bit.Trip is a series of WiiWare games developed by Gaijin Games that started simply with Bit.Trip Beat, a game inspired by Pong but with a modern twist ? the gameplay goes to the beat of the music. After this came Bit.Trip Core, a more complex puzzle game also involving music. The third game ? Bit.Trip Void ? is another unique music game, only this time, the action is centered on a ?void? which the player manipulates and grows larger with each wave. And now, Bit.Trip Runner, their most ambitious work to date, is a fully fleshed out, 2-dimensional platformer in which you control the runner through a series of obstacles.
The game is vibrant and colorful, the giant pixelated characters and background creatures standing out as you run past them. You must jump onto platforms, slide under monsters, and jump over pits in order to keep the game going. Any mistakes drag you back to the beginning ? literally. You are quickly pulled through the entire level, watching it fly by as your arms and legs flap in the wind, dumping you unceremoniously back at the beginning. It is a vivid and creative take on a hackneyed genre. I found myself watching with bated breath as the runner jumped, slid, and collected various coins and other items scattered throughout the levels.
Not just visually pleasing, the game also boasts very retro sounds. This is unsurprising for the series, as Bit.Trip Void featured the amazing 8-bit musician Nullsleep, and Runner will have Anamanaguchi playing during their menu and credits screens. From what I was able to discern, the nostalgic music will fit right in with the oversized-pixel look of this quirky and cool platformer.
Aksys wasn't able to provide me with a date, but they did give me a button. The sharp pain of adding yet another name to my huge must-play list was at least slightly satiated by this small token of appreciation.