Ground control to Commander Video
I still remember my initial reaction when the original BIT.TRIP—BIT.TRIP Beat—was first revealed a few years ago. I saw a game that seemed interesting—one that had a certain charm I found appealing. I also saw something else: a game I expected to be an astounding flop.
Thankfully, the BIT.TRIP series wasn’t a failure; it saw all six of its chapters completed and released, with the games received quite well among both critics and consumers. Various pieces of the franchise have gone on to win awards and have seen ports to other platforms.
It turns out the biggest hurdle for BIT.TRIP wasn’t the series’ retro graphics, deeply symbolic storyline, or its demanding level of difficulty—it was its method of distribution. As Nintendo’s WiiWare service has unfortunately become a place where great games can go unnoticed, one has to wonder how much more successful a series like BIT.TRIP could’ve been if released via a method more accessible to the majority of Wii owners.
BIT.TRIP Complete is where we may find out that answer. Gaijin Games has taken all six of the BIT.TRIP releases—Beat, Core, Void, Runner, Fate, and Flux—and brought them together onto one disc. It’s interesting the effect the collection had on me and my experience with the games; though they’re quite enjoyable by themselves, together they feel like the gaming equivalent of a concept album, where the true meaning and purpose of the project is only fully revealed when each of its pieces are in their proper places.
BIT.TRIP Beat, the first of those pieces, is exactly what you’d expect from an opening track. The concept seems simple—a hardcore interpretation of the classic Pong—and the series, much like its hero Commander Video, is trying to get a feel for who and what it’s supposed to be. Core reminds us a bit of Beat—tiny “beats” enter from offscreen, and we, the player, must stop them—but now the idea is well-timed button pressed versus the simple physical interaction we utilized before. By the time Void makes its debut, those beats still exist, yet not only has gameplay evolved into something quite different than what we first encountered in Beat, but we can also feel a noticeable change in the overall tone weaved into the games.
Then we get to BIT.TRIP Runner, and all our expectations for what the series is are thrown out the window. Runner’s fast and furious platforming has made it the most appreciated of the BIT.TRIP series, and it isn’t hard to understand why: Though all of the games are enjoyable in their own right, it’s clearly the stand-out star of the collection. Fate is interesting; the path-following shooter feels somewhat pedestrian and plodding at first, but after some time, it had become one of my personal favorites of the BIT.TRIP family. Finally, we come to Flux, a game that brings things back around full circle to the experience we had with Beat—though, by this point, that experience has matured, mutated, and taken on aspect of its predecessors.
The strength of BIT.TRIP Complete is that this isn’t just six WiiWare downloadable games tossed onto a disc and called a collection. Along with those games is a long-requested feature—online leaderboards—as well as a variety of unlockables, additional difficulty modes, a limited-edition soundtrack CD, and 120 new optional challenges (20 per game). It is these challenges that are the star of the Wii collection—they’re taxing even for veteran BIT.TRIP fans, and they’re a nice, satisfying chunk of completely original content.
Are those extras enough to convince you to pick up BIT.TRIP Complete if you already own all six individual WiiWare releases? Maybe not—but if you’re interested in the BIT.TRIP series and aren’t in that position (or are a die-hard fan of the franchise), then BIT.TRIP Complete is the only way these games should now be experienced on the Wii. Not just for the added features, or added bonuses, but also for that added appreciation it’ll give you for the series as a whole.
Summary: BIT.TRIP Complete offers the six retro-inspired BIT.TRIP games in a collection that gives more content, bonuses, and appreciation for the series as a whole.
- The Good: Six great games combined with a nice amount of bonus content
- The Bad: Playing Core with the Wiimote’s mushy D-pad
- The Ugly: Your self-esteem after the BIT.TRIP boys crush it