A run for your money
Bit.Trip Runner is the 4th game in the series of Bit.Trip games from the creators Gaijin Games . It mixes the Music/Rhythm genre with the platformer of the atari 2600 age. You play as Commander Video, the heavily pixelated man that runs through various stages avoiding obstacles and collecting gold bars that add to you score. The goal is to run from one end of the stage to the end without running into anything and trying to get as many gold bars as you can. The catch is that Commander Video can't be stopped! He will run through the stage with complete disregard for everything in front of him. As the player you can make him do a variety of actions to help him pass each obstacle as he nears it. The music is comprised of "notes" you make by using his abilities along with the beat in the background. Staying "on beat" is key to this game as each jump, slide, etc. is aligned with a sort of predetermined song that will play as you run through the stage, that gets more intense as you near the end.
As a cheap and simple game you start out with only the ability to jump. You will have to time each jump carefully, but if you listen to the beat and don't get distracted, each action will flow with the game very easily. Later you will get the ability to Slide, Kick, Spring(this requires a spring pad to be under Commander Video and pressing up), and Block which all are required to pass the later stages' obstacles. In addition to collecting Gold Bars you also can collect score multipliers that look like pink plus symbols. Your multiplier starts the level at 1, Hyper. Each multiplier you collect will upgrade it, all the way up to 5. Hyper, Mega, Super, Ultra, and Extra. As you get each one, the music upgrades in intensity until you collect the final one in the stage and activate Extra mode. While not providing any gameplay benefit, Commander Video will gain a rainbow trail, as seen above, once he is in Extra mode. The Rainbow trail is very reminiscent of the old Activision 2600 label on their Atari games.
There are 3 zones in the game, each with 11 stages and 1 boss stage per zone. The Boss stage plays out much like the normal stages, only sometimes you are required to "attack" the boss if the obstacles set you up to do so. Usually this involves launching into the air and kicking them in the face, which is really satisfying in a weird way.
If you manage to collect every Gold bar you get to play the bonus stage for that level, which is a "de-ressed" version of the game which looks surprisingly like Pitfall! You can collect some more gold bars here for more points, although with the music here, it's not nearly as much fun as the normal game. But you will get a good laugh out of how retro it is, depending on your age of course.
Of course the game has its flaws. The game is HARD. While the early levels seem simple and easy, the later levels in each zone, particularly the last 2 levels before the boss, are brutally hard and will test your patience. There are no " checkpoints" in this game whatsoever. If you run into something you go all the way back to the beginning where Commander Video will do some Air Guitar to get back on the beat before starting his run once again. While that alone doesn't seem like a big deal, those later levels I mentioned earlier are extremely long and have a handful of tricky obstacles. 1-11 for example has a whopping 92 gold bars to collect, compared to the usual 20-40. You can see how this gets frustrating very quick.
But if you enjoy a good challenge and have a good level of patience this game can be an absolute blast. I recommend playing in short busts, and not trying to marathon the entire game in one sitting. Coming back after a couple hours fresh goes a long way in helping you maintain focus, and not make clumsy mistakes. For 800 Wii points you can't go wrong with this game, unless of course you have a really short temper, in which case stay away. If you are up for it, and manage to finish it, you feel a pretty strong sense of completion and excitement that you finished something so challenging. Which in my book is bliss.