Trip the light fantastic.
bit.Trip Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is a kick in the pants. Looking at it across the room I had no interest. Having never played the original I looked at it and said, "How is this not just a Canabalt clone?" I'm so happy that I was so very wrong, and I immediately went home to investigate the original game.
bit. Trip Runner 2 is a rhythm-based game where the visuals have a tube-like running man jumping, sliding, and smashing obstacles to fun beats, but it has made a series of strong advances over its predecessor. For one thing it's been visually overhauled with a smooth HD look that replaces the retro look with a world that's more Donkey Kong Country than the Atari Koolaid Acid Test of the prior game.
Progress save points have been added to the game but are skippable for extra points, so fans of the original's difficulty level can opt out of them at any point for a bonus to their score. Additionally there are multiple paths through levels that may lead to keys, locks, Famicom cartridges, or other items that open different kinds of bonus levels.
Graphically, the game is very clean and features multiple skins for the runner. On the Wii U the game can be played either on the Gamepad or the television with both looking fantastic. There is a slight problem with sync, with the Gamepad being a tad behind the television in timing, but the Gaijin devs said they would be addressing this with a Rock Band-style latency fix.
But mostly the game is just fun—challenging with the timing, but also keyed for invention. In spite of the controls being so simple, there's a lot of space for how and when you choose to jump platform to platform. The difficulty levels also do well in addressing challenges and the devs have added a small bonus target shooting game (where you fire the runner out of a cannon) if you get a perfect score; hit the bullseye and you win the coveted "perfect plus" rating.
bit.Trip Runner 2 will have all the same content on all versions, console or PC; in a brief side conversation they mentioned the inability to bring it to 3DS, though they'd love to, because of the lack of scalability in the art assets. The devs also mentioned that the success of bit.Trip meant they were scaling up their operation to build a dedicated bit.Trip team so they could explore other games they wanted to make.
bit.Trip 2 is looking fantastic, like a great update to the franchise, and and a welcome game from a growing studio that's making strides and building on its prior success. It's slated for first quarter release next year on consoles (PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U) and in March on Steam.