Bit.Trip Beat Review

Bit. Trip Beat box art

Unique breakout rhythm game styled by early 80’s retro.

Story

Everything comes from something.
We were before we became. From life comes rhythm, and from rhythm comes life.
We are beings of information.
Everything is a conduit for learning.
We communicate in bits and bytes.
And we will return to something once we become nothing.
After our BIT.TRIP is complete.

The Game

Bit.Trip Beat is a mix between a music rhythm game and a breakout type game. This game is unique in that it mimics the style of early 80’s video games, and does so with a heartwarming charm.
In this game you control a paddle (apparently called Commander Video) and your goal is to catch all the balls coming towards you. You can only move up and down along the left side of the screen. Each ball that you catch will contribute with a beat to the rhythm of the music that’s playing in the background. Each ball that you miss is a missed beat. The goal of the game is simply to catch enough balls to make it though three stages – if you miss too many beats in close sequence your game is over.

Controls

The game is controlled by simply holding the Wii Remote sideways and then tilting it up and down to make Commander Video slide up and down on the screen. It couldn’t be more simple than that really. The Wii Remote’s vibration feature is pulsating to the rhythm of the game, and this naturally makes the barrier that you are controlling vibrate too. It makes for a nice and cute effect that’s quite unique.

Content

Bit.Trip Beat is a very simple game. Within the three stages of the game you can be on different levels, or “frequencies” rather, depending on how well you play. On the lowest frequency, you are very close to death and the game is rendered in monochromatic black and white. The next, and starting frequency, has colors and a minimalistic beat playing to it. The third has a more advanced rhythm playing, with soft sounds and an elaborate bass-line – still in the retro video game style that the game revels in. If you manage to play without missing too many balls, you’ll be able to stay on the highest level and enjoy the awesome music of the game. The game automatically demotes and promotes you between levels according to your performance.
Each of the three stages also has a unique end boss waiting at the end. As expected, these bosses stand as extra challenging encounters, but they’re still just about catching balls.bit_trip_beat1

The balls that you catch come in many shapes and colors. Depending on their color they’ll behave slightly differently – the normal ones simply fly straight across the screen, but there are bouncing balls as well along with balls that come in waves and other patterns. The one thing in common with all the balls is that they all adhere to the rhythm in the game and they all follow a pattern. As such, you can sometimes predict when and where they’ll appear.
Make no mistake – Bit.Trip Beat is a hard game. It really takes an iron will to stay focused and not mess up.

There are power-ups that you can collect to either trigger extra challenges or to increase your odds. These are very rare though. The bonus challenges will shrink your paddle in size and you must then catch a number of balls to receive bonus points. The power-ups can make your paddle longer, or even give you an extra barrier. Note however that all power-ups are very limited in time and often required to make it through the coming waves which are designed with the power-up in mind. This means that if you fail to pick one such power-up, you’ll be faced with impossible odds, which of course is a bit unfair and punishing. On the other hand the game only has three stages, and it’s designed so that you’ll be playing the same stages over and over until you know most of it by heart.

Multiplayer

Bit.Trip Beat has a very prominent feature and that’s the fact that it supports multiplayer co-op for up to four players simultaneously. Each player gets to control their own paddle, but in the four player mode they become really small, making it harder to catch balls. The multiplayer mode demands some coordinated teamwork, and thanks to the simplicity of the game it’s easy to pick up and play with any number of players – be it beginners or experts.
The game also keeps track of high score tables of each of the three stages.

Graphics

The graphics mostly consist of colored “pixel blocks”. The visuals has an iconic style that resembles Atari video games from the early 80’s. There are some nice 3D effects in the background, and sometimes it can be hard to concentrate on the game because of the in-your-face color explosions. Overall the game looks very dynamic and it isn’t afraid to throw in abstract influences in the mix – it’s very well done and it manages to make “something new out of the old”.

Sound

The music is the strongest part of the game. Hearing how the music evolves and devolves between the different frequencies is simply awesome – if you’re into chip music and retro music at all, it’s sure to give you goosebumps. All of the music in the game is in the same style; simple, rhythmic and catchy. It is a true homage to vintage video games – and the best part is that it’s very cool, very well done and ultimately timeless.
The sound effects consist mostly of high pitch beeps, and it contributes to the music beautifully.

Summary

In all its simplicity, Bit.Trip Beat is a fun game. It has solid controls that anyone can master in a matter of seconds. The only downside with the game is that it isn’t a very long-lasting thrill. You’ll be able to play through the three stages in an hour or so, and the only replay value comes from trying to better your score. The charming music and graphical style strikes at the very heart of retro gamers, and as such it’s pretty much irresistible. Either way, this game is a neat treat and does provide a fresh and unique experience that’s very approachable.

Developed By: Gaijin Games
Published By:
Aksys Games
Version Reviewed:
Wii
Genre:
Music / Breakout
Players:
1-4
Also Available On:
Windows PC, OS X, iOS, Linux, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, Xbox 360
Released: 2009-05-01

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