Trippy to the core.
Bit.Trip Core comes to us from Gaijin Games, and it's the second game in the Bit.Trip series that began with Bit.Trip Beat back in March. The hook with Bit.Trip games is their presentation, based upon the vector graphics of old arcade games combined with trippy sound effects, flash, and lots of quick reflex action. While Beat took a re-imagined look at Pong and turned the dial up to 11, Core takes a classic shooter approach - with a twist - and makes it all trippy again.
[image1]Instead of focusing on a horizontal plane like Beat, Core locks your pixel in the middle of the screen, and only allows you to shoot in four directions, in a cross. Enemy pixels move at different rates, speeds, and accelerations, making it continuously more difficult to keep up. As with Beat, the more you miss, the simpler the graphics and sound become, to the point of black and white, and 'bip boop' sounds coming out of the Wii-mote's internal speaker.
And it gets difficult rather quickly - enemies won't behave like mindless drones coming in at a set acceleration, but stop, wait, slow down, and become faster to throw you off. This makes for yet another hectic game that rewards rhythmic skill and quick reflexes. Unlike Beat, thankfully, Core is less likely to tire out your eyes as you play, since Gaijin seems to have listened to many of the complaints with the past game and its eye-searing screen flashes, resulting in a more pleasant - but no less frantic - action.
[image2]Core utilizes the Wii-mote the same way Beat did, in a sideways fashion, using only two buttons - mostly one, since the other is used for deploying a special bomb - and the digital pad for control. Controlling your pixel becomes second nature quickly, but don't get too comfortable, as the game throws some curveballs in terms of reversing everything at certain points, putting you off your game if you're not paying attention.
Core's three main levels are broken up into sections that progressively become unlocked. As per tradition, you can play co-operatively, if just to get through tough spots. That's not to say Core is any harder than Beat, since you can keep your pixel's beam going for longer periods of time. It's more of a matter of knowing what to do with what the game gives you in terms of controls and your own, built-in, factory-standard reflexes than anything else.
[image3]The name does not lie: Bit.Trip Core really is a constant trip, with simple yet crazy visuals and catchy rhythms all the time. As enemies are defeated, more tracks are added to the tune, and as with similar "shooting but not entirely musical" games like Rez, you start to feel like a conductor as you play, as missing means losing a part of the melody. It's certainly a neat concept that seems to be becoming increasingly prominent in this type of game. It's unfortunate that there's no option of recording gameplay, as each play-through is a different than the another.
Bit.Trip Core is much better than Bit.Trip Beat, even though their gameplay is very similar, Core obviously shows how much improvement has been made. While it becomes increasingly difficult too quickly for my taste, I can see skilled players having a ball with Core, but sadly there is no option of exporting leaderboards or an overall online leaderboard. Still, Core fits into the series quite well and makes me curious as to what other old arcade game will be tackled in the inevitable third Bit.Trip game.