I recently played a title by the name of Bit.Trip presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien. I really enjoyed the game, but I haven’t seen it get much attention online, so I thought I’d spread the word about this little gem and some of the things I liked about it. I played the WiiU version, but the game is also available on PS3/360/PC. The game didn’t utilize the Gamepad uniquely in any way (aside from giving the option of offscreen play), so I doubt my experience was too different from what it would have been had I played it on another platform.
The game stars Commando Video, who’s in the middle of some sort of quest and then gets lost or something... I didn’t pay much attention to the story. What is important is that Commander Video runs through levels at a predetermined speed and the player’s job is simply to dodge obstacles as they appear. The fact that the player doesn’t often have to time to think about what they’re doing means that they have to develop a certain rhythm to progress in the game, learning what moves to do at what obstacles on a subconscious level. Runner2’s difficulty comes from the fact that it can take the player some time to get this rhythm down, but, at the same time, I found myself feeling strangely relaxed as I played the game because I could sort of zone out and rely mostly on subconscious reactions as I played. This is where I think Runner2 can be distinguished from similar games; it manages to deliver a fun, accessible, and relaxing experience without sacrificing difficulty.
I played through the game on the medium difficulty setting, “Just Right” and I felt that it was just right. I could expect to mess up a handful of times per level (maybe more), but I never felt that I had encountered an insurmountable obstacle or that the game was being unfairly difficult. Death is nonexistent; if the player messes up, Commander Video is transported back to the start of the level or the most recent checkpoint and continues on from there. While sometimes a questionable design choice, I think the elimination of death in Runner2 enhances the gameplay experience because it keeps the player engaged and the rhythm going.
The game has a charming presentation, giving the player 100 levels to sprint through across five unique worlds that feature some pretty catchy tunes. One of my favorite aspects about Runner2 is that it keeps introducing new concepts and obstacles, even in that final world. There are plenty of unlockables to keep players engaged, including new levels, costumes, and characters to play as. Additionally, 25 “retro” levels are hidden throughout the game’s world, 10 of which I have yet to find. These retro levels offer the chance to play an 8-bit version of Runner2. In NES fashion, the player is provided a limited number of lives for these levels, but the player can immediately access the levels again once they’ve been unlocked, so it’s not that much of a hassle. I don’t want to turn this recommendation into a rant, but it’s a breath of fresh air to play a game that relies so heavily on real unlockables in this era of achievements and DLC. All in all, the game is a great value for its price, which I believe is $15, although I got it on sale for $11.
If you’re a fan of platformers, Runner2 has a lot to offer. I thought the game achieved a perfect balance in terms of offering a gameplay experience that is both relaxing and challenging. If you haven’t given Runner2 a chance yet, it’s definitely worth checking out.