GDC 2010: Bit.Trip Runner PreviewBy Patrick Klepek - Posted Mar 11, 2010
What We Know: Gaijin Games’ Bit.Trip series takes classic 8-bit arcade style concepts and retrofits them to incorporate chiptune-based rhythm game mechanics. Bit.Trip Runner is the fourth installment in the WiiWare series, and for this iteration, the developers are introducing rhythm-based platforming into the mix, which has us rather excited.
What We Saw: Gaijin Games had me at "rhythm platformer," the best way to describe the latest in their Bit.Trip series, Bit.Trip Runner. Of course, playing Bit.Trip Runner on the busy show floor of the Game Developers Conference wasn't the best place to play the game, considering it meant I couldn't hear most of the music. I was, however, able to tell how it influenced gameplay.
Like the other games in the Bit.Trip series, Bit.Trip Runner is dripping with nostalgia for the origins of video games. Bit.Trip Runner isn't really 8-bit -- it's remixed Atari 2600 visuals. Running in the background, however, are the thumping chiptune beats that have driven the other Bit.Trip games. And just like the other games, the music isn't just there to provide something to nod your head to, it's a mechanic that you're changing while playing the game.
When you jump, the game bleeps. When you slide, the game bloops. You're essentially creating your own remix of Bit.Trip Runner's music while playing through the levels and since the game whisks you back to the start of the level whenever you screw up (they're all pretty short), you often have several chances to modify the music multiple times before you've actually reached the finish line. But it's a testament to what the musical mechanics do to enhance the gameplay when I was still enjoying myself despite the many, many times I screwed up my jumps.
More time needs to be spent with Bit.Trip Runner, but like I said, Gaijin Games had already guaranteed my money with the concept of a "rhythm platformer." So far, they're right on.