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EGM Review
BIT.TRIP Collections (BIT.TRIP Complete and BIT.TRIP Saga)

By
Posted on September 15, 2011 AT 01:00pm

Ground control to Commander Video

I still remember my initial reaction when the original BIT.TRIPBIT.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 (and its younger sibling, BIT.TRIP Saga) 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.

BIT.TRIP Complete

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.

BIT.TRIP Saga

BIT.TRIP Saga—the 3DS collection of the BIT.TRIP games—is interesting. On the surface, Saga would instantly seem to be the lesser of the two collections, due to the fact that it doesn’t include some of the major extra components of Complete, such as the 120 addition challenges or the online leaderboards.

And yet, while playing I often found myself enjoying the various BIT.TRIP games more via their 3DS incarnations. These games work really well on the small screen; a few times, especially in Runner, the smaller view can make certain obstacles a bit harder to see, but overall the visual style of the series just comes to life on the 3DS’ display. (No doubt this is partially due to my playing the Wii versions on an HDTV, where the upscaling process mutes some of the crispness and color richness each games so prominently features.)

My opinion so far of playing games in 3D on the 3DS has been mixed; sometimes I’ve enjoyed it, other times I couldn’t turn the 3D off fast enough. BIT.TRIP Saga is something I could definitely see myself playing in 3D on a regular basis—at least, as long as my eyes allow me to before they threaten revolt. This is due to the fact that Gaijin Games took a more reserved approach to the 3D effect for BIT.TRIP Saga—it’s there, it adds a nice depth of dimension, but it isn’t overdone to the point of being obnoxious or tiresome.

The one other major change to the games that comes about in the transition to the 3DS is in terms of control, and again, I found myself sometimes preferring how the 3DS versions did things over the original Wii iterations. I far more enjoyed using the stylus to control games such as BIT.TRIP Beat, versus tilting a Wiimote forward and backward. You may find your preference different on a game-by-game basis, but know that absolutely none of the BIT.TRIP titles have suffered in regards to control in the move.

Which way to go?

Simply looking at both BIT.TRIP Complete and BIT.TRIP Saga, and trying to decide which one I’d recommend to players unfamiliar with the series, it’s hard not to go with Complete. For the same price, not only are you getting the full roster of games, but also a great collection of bonuses, giving you far more value for your dollar. Again, however, I really did enjoy the overall experience of Saga on the 3DS (except for anything having to do with the 3DS’ d-pad), and if I were making the decision myself knowing what I know, I might be perfectly okay with going the 3DS route and sacrificing the extra challenges and online functions for that more intimate handheld experience.

In the end, it’s a choice where there really is no wrong answer. Either way you go, the BIT.TRIP series is a great collection of unique and enjoyable games that offer far more than their screenshots may seem to promise.

 

 

BIT.TRIP Complete

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

SCORE: 8.5

 

BIT.TRIP Saga

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: The BIT.TRIP series looks and plays great on the 3DS (even in 3D)
  • THE BAD: Missing the great extras of BIT.TRIP Complete
  • THE UGLY: Seriously, that 3DS d-pad.

SCORE: 8.0

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got his start via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as he can convince them to fit in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk him on Twitter: @pikoeri. Meet the rest of the crew.

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