Pong is back! Again!
Following the apparent revival of the word "retro" on the home console scene - Pac-Man Championship Edition, Geometry Wars, Space Invaders Extreme, add-your-retro-game-here come to mind - is Bit.Trip Beat by Gaijin Games for Wiiware.
Bit.Trip Beat takes the tried-and-true formula of Pong and adds a few extra ingredients, mainly: music. As you turn your Wii-mote sideways and tilt it on its long axis, the paddle on the screen moves, catching - or not - the balls that scroll horizontally, diagonally, or ever-which-way. For each ball hit, a new note is added to the song and points are added your score.
[image1]Playing Bit.Trip Beat is simple, but the complexity of the game lies somewhere odd that the designers might not have planned on. Due to its incredibly nihiilistic (suitable, for the feel of retro) graphical presentation, Bit.Trip Beat relies on colors to differentiate elements on screen and various scrolling speeds. This mix makes playing the game for long periods of time a strain on the eyes, simply due to the pace of the game getting faster and faster as you progress through a level - the colors change and multiple layers of horizontal scrolling are added. This problem wouldn't be so serious if the three included levels weren't so long, without sections or checkpoints in between.
This is not to say Bit.Trip.Beat is a bad game. On the contrary, it's a well-put together retro resurrection that takes something simple like Pong, which has been played to death, yet still holds up the pick-up-and-play game that made it a hit all the way back in the 1970s. Homages to the original title can be seen all over, past the obvious game-playing perspective.
[image2]If you do badly and miss a lot of shots, Bit.Trip Beat reverts to old black-and-white Pong graphics and singular sounds - playing off the Wii-remote's speaker, which also adds to the retro-ness. You can also add to the tune created by the paddle using the Wii-mote's buttons, generating an extra challenge to keep up with the rhythm. As an apparent hidden bonus, three extra players can join in at any time, by just synching their Wii-motes, making the game even more hectic.
Going past its flaws, Bit.Trip Beat is a solid buy for 600 Wii Points. It's a fitting revival of one of the oldest, yet most memorable, games ever - this time for the 2000s.