Also On: PS3, PC, Wii U, Xbox 360
Publisher: Gaijin Games
Developer: Gaijin Games
The question to ask about Bit.Trip Presents…Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien isn't whether it's any good. That, after all, was answered pretty definitively back in March, when the game first came out on PS3/Xbox 360/Wii U. It was an A+ game then, and nine months that verdict still stands.
Rather, the question for Runner 2 now that it's on the Vita is how well it translates to the smaller screen. Not that the original was some huge, expansive game that needed to be experienced on a big TV or anything, but it was — and still is, for that matter — one of the nicest-looking games of the year, and it had a control scheme that took full advantage of the DualShock 3.
For the most part, the move from console to handheld seems to have gone pretty seamlessly. Charles Martinet's voiceover narration is, as you'd expect, as charming and delightful as ever. Likewise, Runner 2 looks just as gorgeous here as it did on the consoles, with its bright colors popping off the Vita's screen.
If there's any flaw in the port, it comes in the controls — or, more accurately, in what you're expected to do with them. Obviously, part of this is embedded in the game's design, since Runner 2 was meant to be challenging, but on the Vita's smaller screen, it occasionally feels like everything has been crammed together, giving you even less time to react. Admittedly, some of this undoubtedly comes down to my reaction times sucking, but at the same time, I often felt as if I didn't have enough time to do everything that was expected of me — and, as anyone who played the original game knows, at times Runner 2 expects quite a bit from you. Not only that, because everything is shrunk down, there were times my eyes seemed to gloss over enemies or obstacles in my path (though, again, I'll give my own crappy reaction times some of the blame here).
Then again, considering how tough the game is intended to be, "it's even harder!" may be a pretty good selling point. The guiding intention behind Runner 2 on consoles generally seemed to be to make players work to finish each level — to make them memorize the layout for each level, and then hit all the buttons in the right order at the right times — and that's survived the game's transition to the PS Vita wholly intact. That made Runner 2 Game of the Year material when it first came to consoles earlier this year, and the handheld version just serves to reinforce that notion now that we've reached the end of 2013.