Game review by Steve Cullum
Game – BIT.TRIP Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
Version – Wii U eShop (Original Price of $14.99)
Rating – T for Teen
Obtained – Review Code from Gaijin Games
It is probably safe to assume that soon after most people got their hands on the original BIT.TRIP Runner, two thoughts ran through their heads – How will I ever beat this &!@# level, and I wonder what this would look like in high definition. Well, Runner 2 is here in all its HD glory, but is it enough to warrant another trip through the ether with Commander Video?
Story and Plot
It is safe to say that BIT.TRIP Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien has one of the longest video game titles of all time. (The extremely long record actually goes to another game.) However, the title does say quite a bit about the game’s storyline. You start off realizing that Commander Video was blindsided by a fusion beam while chasing down Timbletot. This knocked him into another dimension. Realizing he is now alone, he decides to vanquish all villainy in these strange worlds in order to take down the power-hungry Timbletot. That is all we know, but we also realize, as with its predecessor, the story is not what drives Runner 2. If you do get a bit lost in the story, the occasional fully-voiced and animated cut-scenes will fill you in on what is happening.
The game spans 120 levels throughout five worlds, and includes five boss battles. You can unlock other characters along the way, in addition to bonus costumes. On top of this, you can also find hidden “Retro” courses, similar to the original. All of that should keep you coming back to play levels again and again, in order to unlock everything. If that is not enough, though, there are also included online leaderboards. So, if you have a one or more friends who also own the game, you will also find much replay value in trying to keep to the top of your scoreboard. If you do not have any friends with the game, you can always try your shot at topping the worldwide boards. Although, there are still others out there who are all about hitting every achievement possible. Yes, there are rewards and stats for you, as well.
Gameplay and Controls
Runner 2, as stated above is all about the gameplay. Similar to the original, Commander Video is constantly running, and you must jump over, slide under, kick, and deflect anything that comes in your way. There are some newer movements this time around, too. One involves swinging down poles from one platform to another. All the while, these moves are centered around music and rhythm. If you merely try dodging obstacles on your own, you will probably not fare well; but, if you pay attention to the music enough, you can begin to anticipate the proper timing for each move, which will help you progress much further. The game can be difficult, since if you mess up and hit an enemy or time a jump incorrectly, you are sent back to the start. For those who may have been put off by the difficulty of the original, you will be happy to know that checkpoints have been included this time around. You can skip them for extra points, or you can utilize them if you think you might not make it through the second half without stopping. Also included are three different difficulty modes: Quite Easy, Just Right, and Rather Hard.
Controls are confined to the Wii U GamePad, and as of now, Gaijin Games has stated they have no intention of expanding that. This is not all that bad, though, as the GamePad is a proper controller for Runner 2. In fact, you can play the entire game just on the controller screen. As stated earlier, your character is constantly moving, so you only have to control the other actions. For example, you will jump with the B button, slide with Down on the control pad, and kick with the Y button. It will take some practice, but the game does gradually ramp up the difficulty, so you can learn as you go. By several levels in, you will be hitting most of the buttons on the GamePad in timed combinations you never thought possible. It has been said that Runner 2 is like learning an instrument. While not entirely true, it is incredibly similar in many ways.
Graphics and Sound
The original Runner was a WiiWare title focused on retro. Runner 2 takes a huge step forward by creating fully realized worlds in glorious high definition. The vibrant colors of each world pop off the screen. The additional depth of field helps aid in your timed moves, which was sometimes a problem with the simplified graphics of the original. However, it is also quite easy to lose yourself in the beautiful background and forget to jump over an enemy or kick a barrier.
As with any music or rhythm game, the sound has to be top-notch. Runner 2 is no exception to the rule, and it is safe to say it passes the test with flying colors. The original’s bit-tunes were great, but the techno beats of Runner 2 far surpass its predecessor. Each level starts with a basic beat and tune, but it gradually builds as you progress through the level, which only helps add to the excitement and intensity. Each piece of gold you grab, and every plus-sign collected adds to the song, eventually creating a wonderful tune as you pass through the level’s finish line. On top of all of this, remember the fully-voiced cut-scenes mentioned earlier? They are voiced by none other than Charles Martinet – yes, the voice of Mario. Enough said!
Final Score: 10 out of 10
BIT.TRIP Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is a wonderful rhythm platformer that will keep you coming back for more and more. Just when you think you are ready to take a breather, you will find yourself still going, hours later. The music, simple controls, and beautiful level design make for a fantastic, yet challenging experience.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: There were a couple negative points I was going to make (leaderboards saving last score instead of highest score and some freezing issues), but they have all since been addressed by the developers in an upcoming game patch(es). Therefore, I have taken them out of my review, since they will soon not be an issue anymore.