Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: BIT.TRIP Complete

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Electronic Theatre ImageThe latest release from Rising Star Games is another of those titles that without the confidence and investment of the UK publisher might not have received quite the same level of attention. In this case however, it’s not just a singular videogame experience, but rather a compilation of an entire series. And while it’s true that for many the BIT.TRIP series is old hat, there’s a whole untapped market of Wii owners that there who don’t wish to – or simply don’t know how to – download new videogames directly to their console.

BIT.TRIP Complete brings all six of the BIT.TRIP videogames together on one disc. Previously available as six individual titles via WiiWare, the BIT.TRIP series received critical acclaim for its many varied, bite-sized, retro Electronic Theatre Imagestyled releases, and now with it’s retail release – despite being two years old with even it’s most recent releases – Gaijin Games’ series deserves the same praise as ever it did

Some weeks prior to release Electronic Theatre was given the opportunity to get hands-on with BIT.TRIP Complete, a near-final build from which we discussed three of the BIT.TRIP titles – Beat, Core and Runner – in our preview published earlier this month. The other three titles included, Void, Fate and Flux, present just as compelling an argument however, with Fate in particular providing an instantly accessible challenge.

Most titles in the BIT.TRIP series rely on previously established videogame conventions – Runner expects you to know to jump when approaching a sudden incline, Beat commands you to follow the age old mechanic of when a block comes flying towards a hole, you move into place to avoid it being lost forever – Fate however, is Electronic Theatre Imageperhaps the closet to a traditional genre design of all the releases in the series. The player’s avatar automatically scrolls to the right with the screen, along a preset path indicated by a rainbow line. The player can move back and forth along this line as much as they wish within the confines of the screen width, however while doing so they must avoid incoming enemies and artillery. They can of course fire back, directed by using the Wii Remote’s IR Pointer interface. BIT.TRIP videogames have always prided themselves on the ability to avoid overcomplicating things, and Fate is no exception, with just a few power-ups and screen-filling bosses rounding-out a balanced, addictive shoot-‘em-up experience.

Void features a more unique premise, in which the player takes on the form of a small black circle (the void) which expands with black blocks absorbed from the constantly scrolling playfields. However, encountering white blocks will cause the void to return to its normal size, losing any accrued score. In order to avoid this, the player can ‘bank’ their current collection, but in the process will lose their current multiplayer. Though seemingly simple, Void is a compelling-risk reward Electronic Theatre Imageexperience which draws comparison in it’s design to ‘bullet hell’ style shoot-‘em-ups, but offers an eccentric aesthetic and aural design that’s perfectly suited to it’s intentional avoidance of traditional values.

The sixth title on the BIT.TRIP Complete compilation is Flux, which itself could be argued to present a remix of the very first title, Beat. The display is reversed, with the player now controlling a paddle on the right side of the screen, and the player now has to face ‘beats’ of varying type. The idea is still to prevent these beats from passing – and failing to do so with drastically alter the visual presentation – but their specialisation, determined by colour, calls for some all-new tactics to come into play.

From a technical standpoint, BIT.TRIP Complete is hardly pushing the Wii hardware, but then it was never intended to. In reality, BIT.TRIP Complete could possibly have been presented just as well on 16-bit systems (despite the 8-bit influences, Electronic Theatre would argue that the colour palette is too varied for consoles of that era to handle) but it’s the fact that nothing similar ever was attempted on those systems that makes the series such an interesting proposition. It’s a modern design making use of modern technology to present videogame experiences that have ignored the ‘progress’ of the past twenty years. These are old school sentimentalities on a modern system, and for any gamer feeling a bit long in the tooth there is little finer available on the Wii console.

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