REVIEW: Bit.Trip Complete - Wii
If you’ve never played a Bit.Trip game before, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Part rhythm, part retro-arcade game, the Bit.Trip series is famed for its pixelated aesthetic and catchy chiptune soundtracks.
Over the course of six games, it took players back to an age of punishing old-school difficulty and helped them rediscover the pure joy of play.
Now Bit.Trip Beat, Core, Void, Runner, Fate and Flux have all been re-released on the Wii in the form of Bit.Trip Complete.
But this is no ordinary compilation package, as it comes bundled with loads of extra unlockable content, 20 brand new challenges for each game (120 in total), different difficulty levels, and a full-blown special CD soundtrack.
The unlockable content ranges from the usual concept art and videos to the surprisingly insightful developer letters detailing the symbolism behind each game, and eight additional songs.
These extras may be a tough sell for those who already own many of the games, but the added challenges and varying difficulty levels certainly give much more value to each individual title.
For the uninitiated, music is quite literally the heart and soul of Bit.Trip’s charm and appeal.
In Bit.Trip Runner, for example, the main premise of the game is to jump, kick and slide under obstacles as CommanderVideo runs automatically across the stage. It sounds simple, but every obstacle has been expertly placed like a note on a sheet of music.
Jump and another beat joins the musical fray; slide and a quaver triplet dances out of your speakers. Every press of a button is designed to create one more note in the game’s glorious chiptune symphony, and the more gold and bonuses you collect along the way, the more the music grows until it’s a full body of sound with layer upon layer of sheer aural delight.
One wrong move though and it’s back to the beginning, and the music regresses back to its original, simple tune.
It’s fiendishly difficult, but not too difficult that it makes you feel like giving up. Every misstep only drives you forward, pushing you to succeed so you can show the game who’s boss, and there’s nothing more satisfying than pulling off a perfect run.
Other games, like Bit.Trip Beat, are a little less forgiving though. This one involves controlling a paddle in a Pong-esque challenge to hit back incoming blocks, and like Runner, each block you successfully bounce back forms part of the soundtrack.
But whereas Runner comprises of several mini-stages within the overall level, each of Beat’s rather lengthy levels lack any form of checkpoint, and it’s game over if you miss too many blocks.
This trend also follows in Bit.Trip Core, where you must fire a laser from the centre of the screen in one of four directions to hit the beats flying across the screen in increasingly intricate patterns.
While just as fun to play as Beat, it’s a long way back to the start when you fail. This can be remedied by opting for a less gruelling difficulty level, but they don’t strike quite the same feeling of “just one more go” as Runner does.
Thankfully this checkpoint niggle is remedied in Bit.Trip Void. Like its predecessors, Void involves an incredibly simple concept (absorb all the black squares while avoiding the white ones), but the catch is that every black square gradually increases your void’s size, making it harder and harder to dodge the progressively complex wave of white squares and rack up your combo score.
Luckily you can discharge your excess bulk, but reducing your void’s size too often won’t net you many points – and with new online leader boards, those points have never been more important.
Bit.Trip Fate sees you take the role of CommanderVideo again, this time in the guise of a classic top-down shoot ‘em up. Perhaps the easiest of the six games (but by no means less enjoyable), you follow a set path while shooting down obstacles and avoiding incoming projectiles.
The final game, Bit.Trip Flux, comes full circle, returning to the Pong-like gameplay of Beat but incorporating several new gameplay elements from the previous games, like checkpoints and beats you must avoid.
It provides a fitting conclusion to the Bit.Trip story, and is an apt reflection of how far it’s come.
All in all, each game is a single dose of concentrated bliss. It’s a steep learning curve to be sure, perfected only through trial and error repetition, but it’s very hard not to love every second of it.
All the additional content just sweetens the deal too, especially for its bargain price. This is one compilation package done right, and if you’re new to the franchise, now’s never been a better time to jump on the Bit.Trip train.
9/10 Bit.Trip Complete is out now on Nintendo Wii.