Also On: PS4
Publisher: Choice Provisions
Developer: Choice Provisions
As far as I'm concerned, Runner 2 was one of the best — if also one of the most severely underappreciated — games of the last generation. Its colourful visuals popped off the screen, its gameplay was the perfect mix of simple and addictive, and Charles Martinet (aka the Voice of Mario) added some playful charm. It was, in short, ridiculously fun.
The BIT.TRIP is sort of a prequel to Runner 2, collecting the six Bit.Trip games that precede it. Spoiler: none of them are as good as Runner 2. While all of them have their moments, it seems fair to say that none of them quite live up to Gaijin Games' masterpiece.
That's not to say that none of them come close. Indeed, depending on what you're looking for in a game, it's entirely possible that some of the titles included in The BIT.TRIP may even appeal to you more than Runner 2. Want something as simple as Pong, but with a more modern sensibility and soundtrack? Then Bit.Trip Beat will be right up your alley, with Bit.Trip Flux there for when you've mastered that game and are in the mood for something a little more complex. In the mood for a game that's slightly more arcade-y (but, again, with a distinctly modern soundtrack)? Then Bit.Trips Core and Void should meet that need, pairing deceptive simple ideas with executions that quickly show how complex they can get. Elsewhere, shmup fans should find plenty to enjoy with Bit.Trip Fate, while anyone wanting to experience Runner 2 in a more minimalistic, embryonic form should be pleased to learn that the original Runner is here too.
You don't have to look very hard to see a common thread running through these games (beyond the basic fact they're all easy to pick up and play, but very difficult to master). All six games have style to spare, with their frantic paces, vibrant colour schemes, and pulsating soundtracks. Even if the Bit.Trip series didn't reach its full potential until Runner 2, the six games on The BIT.TRIP show that whatever else their developer had to figure out (which, admittedly, wasn't much), the exceptional aesthetics were there basically from Day 1.
You don't need to rush out and download it this instant, though. No, that's an honor you should give to Runner 2 — which, again, is a must-play for anyone with any of the many, many systems on which it appeared. The BIT.TRIP is more an after-dinner mint: it's certainly enjoyable, but not quite as good as the main course.