Nowhere to hide, just keep on runnin'.
The bit.Trip series is one of the few reasons it's still worth browsing games on Wiiware. Way above all the crap we are guaranteed to get every week, Gaijin Games has been on the rise. Their fourth game bit.Trip Runner is their best yet, though it's not devoid of a few issues.
[image1]At first glance, Runner plays a lot like Canabalt, the horizontal side-scrolling game where you have no control over your character's movement, other than making him jump. Things quickly become trickier as more moves become available, like ducking and punching. If anything hits Mr. Video, bit.Trip's recurring mascot, you go back to the beginning of the stage.
Music plays a big part in Runner, as it did in previous Bit.Trip games. Everything you do results in notes being added to the track. Even buttons not assigned to any actions play something in the composition. The quicker the game gets, the more influence you have on the soundtrack.
Every level has a set number of items that you can pick up. The advantage to picking everything up, other than the obvious score award is the possibility to multiply it by playing a special "retro" stage. As if the game did not already have an old school feel to it, these special stages
shamelessly rip-off pay homage to Pitfall, down to Gaijin's logo replacing Activision's in the lower left portion of the screen.
[image2]It's very interesting to see Gaijin's presentation with each bit.Trip game, starting at Pong-level graphics and evolving into Atari-like levels of detail with each new iteration. Runner goes one step beyond, mixing animated pixel art with 3D. Backgrounds are full of complex polygons, while enemies and obstacles are made of simple ones.
This art style does have its drawbacks. Background and foreground elements sometimes get mixed up visually. Sometimes there's just too much distraction going on at once on screen, which is one of the bit.Trip series' rare but recurring blemishes. The frenetic pace of the game tends to become tiring, resulting in shorter periods of play time.
bit.Trip Runner stands practically alone in a crowded lineup of Wiiware releases. Like its predecessors, the nostalgia-fueled gameplay makes up most of this game's charm and it's easily recommendable as a downloadable title.