And so goes another game in the Humble Indie Bundle. Wait....is it....yea, it's in the Bundle. So goes another game in the Humble Indie Bundle, and man, this is going to be weird to write about. Not because I don't know what to think about it; I'm pretty confident that I'm going to pester you guys endlessly if you haven't played this. But then the strangeness comes in when I tell you that it's not going to be because of anything relating to the actual game.
Hell, what is there to the game that I even could recommend? The game asks you to press buttons, and you press buttons. Well, except for the times when the game doesn't ask you to press buttons, but every other time, you're pressing buttons. I know that sounds reductionist as hell, but that's literally all there is to the gameplay: pressing buttons when told. The game may introduce different buttons to press, but it's never going to introduce anything beyond simply pressing buttons. Hell, it's not even going to try to justify itself with any kind of story or context or anything like that. You want some explanation? Here's a button; here's when you press it. That's your explanation. Story? There's a guy named Simon, and he says that buttons must be pressed. And then you press buttons. Now do that and we'll attach some numbers to it. Not that it really means anything. I'd go into more detail on that, but I think it'd just boil down to me not seeing the point of scores in a lot of games. Suffice it to say, though, that this isn't the type of game I'd recommend to play because it's fun to play in and of itself.
Instead, I'd recommend it because it's fun to play. It's not flu season. The reason you're sneezing so much is because I blew your mind so hard that your face is now violently cumming onto your keyboard. Surprisingly, BIT.TRIP Runner is better than that. Why, you ask betwixt nose ejaculates? It's all about being staying in the moment and making a ton of cool stuff happen on screen at once. I'm aware of how confusing that sounds, but remember Rez? Remember how every action there caused a sound in the environment? Well, the same principle applies here, and holy hell, does it work. Suddenly, concepts that didn't seem so fun before are the best thing in the world. Why collect gold for points, for example? Points suck. True, but in BIT.TRIP, they make sound, so now it's totally fun. And those health packs might seem totally useless in lieu of one hit kills (more on that later, though), but in lieu of the aesthetic, they're the best thing in the world. They allow you to transcend sound itself. But don't feel too bad if you miss one of them, because the game's still fun when it's musical. It's like you're playing a song, except the other kind of play and not the one that's usually used in this context.
Oh, and it's not just because you're making music happen before you. (Remember me mentioning songs? I AM THE MASTER OF TRANSITIONS!) It's because of how deliberate the level design is. Trust me: every detail in any level has been needlessly thought out. For example, people who have played this game and therefore have nothing to gain from this blog: ever notice how repetitive the levels can be? If you didn't, I've finally caught you, Helen Keller! Communist bitch. But to everybody else: ever wonder why that was included in the game? No, it isn't because the game sucks. I'm quite sure I'm making that clear. Instead, it's there as a warm up. You know, to ease you into the more difficult stuff to come. You can't just start with the more exciting parts, and I can't imagine the game having tutorials outside the actual game parts, so you end up with the repetition. Then you get to the cool moments where the game places gold in such a way as to create a melody and plays with your expectations and timings and all that. What other possible reason for this could there be?
Perhaps the balls hard difficulty. That's another possibility. Did I mention how absolutely difficult BIT.TRIP is? "How much of that is fair", you ask?...........Some? It's here that I have to admit that the game can be mean-spirited a lot of the time. If ever you make one mistake, just one tiny mistake, you're getting booted back to the beginning of the level. Miss a jump by a fraction of a frame or bleed out your eyes because the game looks too good for your eyes to handle (or maybe you miss a detail because of strange camera angles), and it's back to the beginning of the level. This is especially ridiculous for boss battles, where you're essentially sent back in time because you thought you were supposed to jump when the game didn't want you jumping. But you know what? Even knowing all that, I'd still gladly go through this gauntlet of a game. A lot of the levels are short enough that checkpoints aren't entirely necessary, so I don't really miss them. But then there are those parts that just go on forever, otherwise known as "the end of the game". This is when you buckle the eff down and power through it. It may take more time than you have, and may even require you to shut down your brain so you stop trying to reason with the game. So be it. At the end, when you've completed it all, you're left with the realization that there's nothing beats beating BIT.TRIP at its own game. Not even violent face cumming.
- The game has all the complexity of Atari.
- Only it adds music on top, which is somehow enough to make things fucking awesome.
- But no less difficult.
How many enemies are there? I MUST KNOW, DAMN IT! CHIE'S BUTT IS IN THE UTMOST DANGER, AND I MUST PREPARE ACCORDINGLY!
It may seem as though I chose these two games side by side because they both have "Runner" in the title, but....no, you're right. But let's assume that I'm more intelligent than that and that I wanted to make some type of point. Would BIT.TRIP be just as fun without the musical nature driving it? Surprisingly, yes. Would it be fun if the perspective was shifted 90 degrees and depth perception was meaningless? Uh, kind of? Would it be fun if it was 3-D Worldrunner (technically Tobidase Daisakusen, since I was playing the FDS version)? I feel like you should know the answer by now.
Yes, it's fucking fun! What's not to like about running? OK, there's vomiting and bleeding nipples, but keep in mind that this is a video game. That means all the fun parts of running without the blood-vomiting nipples. Speed! Presumably other things! OK, I don't run, but that was just my way of saying that the game's fast and fun for it. The game's at its best when you're weaving through enemies and pillars right as they're about to hit you. Fortunately, that's most of what the game is. The rest is the boss battle. There'd be an S on the end of that, but there's really only one battle in the game: you jump up in the air and shoot a snake a billion times. It feels less like a fun part of the game and more like a distraction. An odd design choice for Square, but whatever. The bosses don't take up that much time (except in the final two worlds, where you just end up fighting the same guy a billion times), and the core concept is solid eno-
EXCEPT FOR THE PRESENTATION. What? I'd addressed the Runner, so now it's time to move onto the 3-D, arguably the worst part of the game. Look at that screenshot up there. Notice how 3D it is? No? That's because it's 2D, killing any chance of depth perception. Things just pop in at you, and you have no real way of gauging how to react. This isn't exactly the best thing to have in a game that relies on fast, precise actions. Prepare to die a lot because the game expected you to sink like a rock onto a thin strip of land, and all you could manage was to float down to your death like a pretty princess. Of death, presumably. Or maybe you got close to an enemy, and the game decides that this counts as a hit. Yea, a lot of the levels are just flat expanses of nothingness where this isn't too much of an issue, but just as many expect you to jump through the void, so it's not exactly easy to ignore issues as large as these. Hell, they're a lot of the reason why I didn't like the boss in 3D WorldRunner. You can't tell where you're aiming, so a lot of the time, you run down the clock and have to start over. I'd say a simple reticle would help immensely, but I don't know how that would tell me when to jump.
Although now that I reflect on it, it is a bit strange that I'm insulting the graphics as much as I am, since I really love how the game looks. How can you not? Everything's just so cute and delightful and whimsical. If that's not enough for you, let's throw some music on top of it. Is there any other music? Not really. Does it matter? Hell no! If you're not giddy at the sound of that music, then you're probably living a fairly depressing life without emotion. It would presumably be depressing if you could feel emotion in the first place. Look, emotionless monster: the point I'm trying to make is that the music is awesome enough to make you want to play the game. Then the speed is enough to keep you playing the game. Then the whole "trying to be 3D in a 2D world, even though that's a very bad idea" problem fucks everything up and makes you feel conflicted about continuing this insanity. Or at least it would if you could feel emotion.
- Take all the fun of BIT.TRIP Runner...
- ...and then fuck up the perspective.
- How did I end up in a conversation with a hypothetical emotionless person, again?