The BIT.TRIP-series is starting to gain some age, with its first iteration BEAT being released on the Nintendo Wii Shop back in 2009, so I was very (pleasantly) surprised to learn that a vinyl LP containing all of the soundtracks for the series would ever see the light of day. Even more so when I learned that a Steam-code for every single game released in the series would be included with every copy. I thought I’d take this opportunity to rekindle myself with Gaijin Games’ quirky little character Commander Video and his travels through a highly stylized universe.
I’d like to start off with BEAT, since it’s the first game released in the series, and the first one I played. BIT.TRIP BEAT is pretty much what would happen if Pong mated with a rhythm game, and those kinds of combinations are pretty much what sums up what the gimmick of the whole series – from what I’ve been through so far – entails. Simply put, you are a paddle in the left part of the screen, and you deflect dots (or “bits,” I suppose) coming at you from the right. This builds a rhythm along with the background score, which actually helps you predict what’s coming next.
In any rhythm game, a great soundtrack ought to be paramount, and BEAT does not disappoint in this regard. If you are sold on the art-style, be sure that the sound direction to go along with it is just what you would expect, blips, blops and all. The only factor of disappointment would be that the game has only three stages. These are more akin to marathons than tidbits though, and rest assured that you will not be breezing through the whole batch like nothing (there is a nice achievement If you do though).
I only have two real gripes with my BIT.TRIP in BEAT. When the screen gets all cluttered with action, which it does periodically and as your score increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell foreground from background, and what both you and your surroundings are doing. This is true for at least one other incarnation in the franchise (which I’ll get to in a later review). The other definite downside would be the lack of multiplayer. It’s not essential by any means, but the Wii-version does support two players simultaneously, and the whole title just feels more organic on that particular format.
Before I head off to CORE, I’ll leave you with this fine specimen There should be some copies left over at iam8bit.com if you’re into vinyls and/or game soundtracks.