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Review: Bit.Trip Presents Runner2 - Destructoid




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BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner 2, Future Legend of Rhythm Alien  




Review: Bit.Trip Presents Runner2 photo
Review: Bit.Trip Presents Runner2

2:00 PM on 02.28.2013

A towering home run


By the time Bit.Trip Runner burst onto the scene three years ago, Gaijin Games had already established itself on WiiWare with a trio of some of the best games on the platform. The retro-inspired rhythm series shared certain core tenets, but always placed a clear emphasis on reinvention. Runner took that to the next level, shaking the abstract presentation of its predecessors for a much more mainstream look and appeal.

Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien picks up where that game left off. After seemingly defeating his nemesis, protagonist Commander Video is sucked into an alternate reality where things look eerily similar yet unmistakably different. Trapped in this strange new land, our hero begins a new journey in search of a way home.

Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation Network, Wii U eShop, Xbox Live Arcade, iOS)
Developer: Gaijin Games
Publisher: Aksys Games
Release: February 26, 2013, March 5 (PlayStation 3), Summer 2013 (Vita & iOS)
MSRP: $14.99
Rig: Intel Core i7-2670QM @2.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, GeForce G 540M, Windows 7 64-bit 

Runner2's most marked difference from the rest of the series is most definitely the visual style. There's just no way around it: Runner2 looks different. It's not what fans are accustomed to and to be honest, I was less than thrilled by the change at first. Much of Bit.Trip's appeal in that retro aesthetic style, so to see Gaijin Games shift away from that was kind of distressing.

After seeing it in motion, however, I've come to prefer the new look. The warm visuals, distinctive characters, and varied settings have really won me over. And once the accompanying chiptune-inspired soundtrack kicked in it was like nothing had changed. Runner2 may not look exactly like a Bit.Trip game but it feels very much like a worthy successor to the series. 

Subdued at first, the game, like the music, builds upon itself into a crescendo. The player controls the constantly-moving Commander Video and must guide him through a series of platforming obstacle course. Slowly but surely the game introduces the player to new and different ways to interact with the environment. In no time at all Commander Video will be leaping over, sliding under, and knocking down whatever is placed in his path.

The Bit.Trip series is well known for its difficulty. All six of the previous games are extremely challenging and can verge on seeming onerous and unfair. Runner2 is a little different in that respect. True to form, traversing the game's levels are all about reflexes and persistence. Similar to Super Meat Boy, screwing up once will mean getting sent back to the beginning of the level. However, there are no game-over screens so death rarely feels overly punishing. 

Things get even more accessible this time around with a tiered difficulty system and (largely optional) mid-level checkpoints. These additions go a long way to make Runner2 more inviting to newcomers or folks that have struggled with the Bit.Trip series in the past. Unlike past entries, this game isn't terribly imposing. Those looking to experience the game on one of the lower difficulty settings are almost certain to be able to get through Runner2's five worlds without too much frustration.

That isn't to say that Runner2 is a cake walk though. Far from it. The impetus for challenge, however, is left to the discretion of the player. Scattered throughout every level in the game are dozens of items that serve to enhance the challenge. Some are easier to obtain than others. Commander Video must oftentimes put himself in harm's way to acquire them but with that risk comes reward. Upon coming into contact with gold bars and the like, the objects will emit notes that compliment the music, giving the gameplay a synesthetic quality.

While Runner2 is a platformer, it has decidedly arcade sensibilities. Amongst other actions like hurtling over obstacles or dancing if you have a free moment, collectible items contribute points to an overall score. After a level is completed, these are fed into leaderboards, allowing players to compete with friends and the community at large. If you're anything like me, you'll be looking to one-up your comrades at every turn. Prepare to crank up the difficulty and strive for perfection.

That competitive atmosphere helps flesh out the campaign a great deal, but Runner2 certainly isn't hurting for content. With over 100 levels, the game features branching paths, retro challenge levels reminiscent of the original Bit.Trip Runner and various unlockable characters and costumes. Having invested over a dozen hours into the game thus far, I'm still just scratching the surface when it comes to all the extra content.

Although the game is pretty stellar overall, it could have used some streamlining; it forces players to sit through a number of menus to get to the action, an issue exacerbated by some lengthy loading times. It's a minor complaint, but also one that speaks to the quality of the game. In the moments between levels, I just couldn't wait to get back into the thick of it.

Runner2 feels like a very natural progression for the series. The team at Gaijin Games has crafted a more nuanced and impressive follow-up to what was great title in its own right. Avant-garde but with a healthy respect for the past, Runner2 is a marvelous rhythmic platformer that just about anyone should be able to enjoy.



THE VERDICT - BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner 2, Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

Reviewed by Kyle MacGregor

9 /10
Superb: A hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title. Check out more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.





Runner 2 plays exactly how you would expect on the Vita photo


Runner2 releasing on Vita in less than a week photo


Gaijin Games releases iOS version of Bit.Trip Runner2 photo


Runner 2 'Good Friends Pack' hits 360 and Wii U this week photo


New Bit.Trip Runner2 characters like disco apparently photo


Portal, Spelunky characters join Bit.Trip Runner2 cast photo


CommanderVideo runs free in new Bit.Trip browser game photo


Review: Bit.Trip Presents Runner2 photo


Runner2 first on Wii U and Steam, other versions dated photo


This Runner 2 trailer will have you sprinting to play it photo


BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner 2, Future Legend of Rhythm Alien Updates, Screenshots, & Videos







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BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner 2, Future Legend of Rhythm Alien



5:15 PM on 12.19.2013
Runner 2 plays exactly how you would expect on the Vita

Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien launched very early on in the year for just about every platform under the sun. We reviewed it, and really liked it. Not long after that, Gaijin Games announced that R...more



11:15 AM on 12.12.2013
Runner2 releasing on Vita in less than a week

The PlayStation Vita keeps proving itself to be a serious contender for independent games, with titles like Terraria, Rogue Legacy, and Spelunky either already on the platform or in the works. To add to that list, Gaijin...more



12:00 PM on 10.31.2013
Gaijin Games releases iOS version of Bit.Trip Runner2

Commander Video is trotting onto the iOS App Store today in Bit.Trip Run!, Gaijin Games has announced. Bit.Trip Run! is the mobile version of the marvelous musical platformer Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of R...more



6:30 PM on 08.14.2013
Runner 2 'Good Friends Pack' hits 360 and Wii U this week

Although the Good Friends Character Pack for Runner 2 has hit the PS3 and PC platforms, it's been absent from the Wii U and Xbox 360 versions of the game -- until this week, that is. Straight from the developer, the 360 will ...more



2:30 PM on 07.12.2013
New Bit.Trip Runner2 characters like disco apparently

Yes, that's Commander Video getting down on the dance floor with Cave Story's Quote. Bit.Trip Presents Runner2 is pretty cool like that. Gaijin Games released a downloadable character pack for its rhythmic pla...more



7:00 AM on 07.11.2013
Portal, Spelunky characters join Bit.Trip Runner2 cast

Gaijin Games has unveiled the final trio of characters joining the colorful cast of Bit.Trip Presents Runner2 as downloadable content. Atlas of Portal 2 fame joins the roster as a Steam exclusive, whilst the eponym...more



5:00 PM on 07.04.2013
CommanderVideo runs free in new Bit.Trip browser game

The Bit.Trip series' heroic protagonist has made the leap to browsers in the eponymously titled CommanderVideo. Heralded as "quite possibly the longest game in history," Gaijin Games' latest effort is a free endless runner re...more



3:00 AM on 02.26.2013
Runner2 first on Wii U and Steam, other versions dated

Gaijin Games has put out some proper release dates for the various versions of Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien. Up first are Wii U and Steam (Windows, Mac, and Linux), with those launches happening to...more



8:30 AM on 02.25.2013
This Runner 2 trailer will have you sprinting to play it

Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is nearly here, and Gaijin Games has a new launch trailer to celebrate. Taking us through a brief history of the original Runner, the video kicks off with around a ful...more




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