Indie Review: Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2
Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (also known as Runner 2) is the direct sequel to Bit.Trip Runner, and forms part of the long standing Bit.Trip series. It is a rhythm-music platforming game presented as a side-scrolling plaformer.
- Worth The Time?Runner 2 is a game which is definitely worth your time, in between more hardcore gaming sessions. On the surface, it appears to be a game which can be played casually. Yet underneath it is quite a hardcore platformer.
- Things LovedThe zany colour scheme and design implemented throughout the game, the fluidity of the controls and rhythm-based timing gameplay, the variety in enemies, challenges and obstacles to overcome, and the thumping soundtrack, with narration by Charles Martinet, which makes everything flow together.
- Things HatedThe learning curve can be steep at later stages, mastering the game can be a chore and the visuals can become overbearing on the eye due to the fast paced nature of Runner 2.
- RecommendationRunner 2 is a quality platformer with a unique twist in its rhythm-based gameplay. It is brimming with retro attitude, and a bright colorful visual aesthetic that draws you in. It is a challenging game, and is immensely fun to play. Although appearing to be a casual platformer, it can become increasingly difficult. This is one recommended for the hardcore platformer fans out there, and for the price is a steal.
- Name: Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
- Genre: Platformer
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, PC
- Developer: Gajin Games
- Publisher: Aksys Games
- Price: $14.99 (R137)
- Reviewed On: PC
In Runner 2, you once again resume the adventures of interstellar hero Commander Video, who appears as black visored figure with Sonic-like running shoes. He is joined by a host of playable allies, such as a female version of Commander Video and a humanoid pickle. All of which adds to the tremendous humour of the game. This time Commander Video has been sucked into a blackhole of sorts and finds himself in another dimension, and has to find a way home. A simple enough story for a platformer, and with Charles Martinet (known famously as the voice of Mario) narrating the whole affair, the game requires no more exposition than this.
The story isn’t the focus of Runner 2. Gameplay is at the core of Runner 2’s experience, and as any good platformer does it excels at just that. The first big change you will notice with Runner 2 is the change from the 2D retro style of the first Runner game, to a more zany and colourful 3D visual design. This lends itself quite nicely to all the changes and additions to the gameplay design. The central focus of Runner 2 is to collect gold bars, power-up bonuses (which are score multipliers), and additionally keys and chests in each of the levels, and obtain a high score. This all has to be achieved without hitting any of the obstacles you encounter throughout the level, or falling to your death.
Your chosen character automically runs for you, and you have to perform a number of actions such as jumping over enemies, kicking through shields, sliding through obstacles, hanging from and riding rails, reflecting projectiles with a shield and slide-kicking your way through enemy obstacles. These actions all require impeccable timing to the rhythm of the soundtrack at play, and depending on how many power-up bonuses you collect you can go anywhere from hyper speed to extra speed in the game. The different speed modes increase the tempo of the music and the pace at which you move through the level. So you must be ready to react quickly as the challenges and obstacles you face can drastically change in a level, especially in later levels. It is advisable to play the game with a controller, as a keyboard will prove itself insufficient for the speed at which the game paces itself.
The game is split into five worlds, with a variety of levels and bosses. Each world is visually and musically differentiated from the next and adds new enemies, and challenges to the mix. At the end of every level, if you obtain a perfect score you have the opportunity to score some bonus points, by shooting your character through a cannon at a huge target. If you are skilled enough at the game you can unlock a key vault for each world, which allows you to collect keys from previously played levels, and unlock chests with extras. Extras include alternative constumes and characters for you to play as. Once all the levels have been successfully completed in a world, you can face the boss. The boss battles are quite difficult and the challenge incorporates all of the skills you have acquired throughout the levels in the world, and tests whether you have perfected your skills to the point that you can overcome the boss, and move forward to the next world.
Central to Runner 2’s appeal is its gameplay design which as mentioned before is fun, yet challenging. It is challenging to the point of being infuriatingly difficult at times, because of the implementation of multiple obstacles and enemies, and having to change up your strategy throughout a given level. This is where the hardcore nature of the game is truly noticeable. The game encourages perfection and challenges you to push through the most insane level designs. The inclusion of leaderboards adds to this, as naturally people want to best their score as much as humanly possible. This is definitely the addictive element of this game. The game pushes you to accomplish more, and that is something to applaud it for. When a platformer rewards you with a feeling of accomplishment that is a good sign that the gameplay design is solid. However, this hardcore element in the game’s design may not appeal to everyone’s tastes. For the casual gamer, it may be possible to play the game on the easiest difficulty. But the challenge and difficulty of the game is where its rewards lie.
Visually, the game can be a bit jarring for those who are visually impaired. The game world is beautifully detailed with a zany cast of characters and a bright colour palette. But it can have the same effect that watching a 3D film may have for some people, where your eyes begin to fatigue from trying to focus on the image on-screen. This is largely due to the moving backgrounds which can be disorienting. Otherwise, if played in a few shorter sessions the game’s visuals are bearable and beautiful to behold. This is one of the only real major gripes to be had with the game. On a more positive note, the soundtrack for Runner 2 is audio bliss and is integral to the gameplay design being as effective as it is. Charles Martinet, who lends his voice talents as the narrator, is a charming addition to the game and is perfectly cast for this retro inspired platformer. This is the icing on top of the cake.
Runner 2 is a platformer that is challenging and fun. It is a quality game which justifies its price tag and offers loads of value to the prospective player. It has a unique gameplay element with its rhythm-based platforming which enhances the general experience of the game, and sets it apart from other games in the genre. It is also visually stunning, but its fast paced nature and moving backgrounds may be troubling for visually impaired players. The game has a stunning soundtrack and voicework by Charles Martinent which enhaces an already promising package. Runner 2 is a brilliant game with few flaws, and is definitely a game to consider if you’re into challenging platformers with a unique twist.