I enjoyed the last Runner title that came out in the same way I enjoyed Super Meat Boy: frustration could quickly set in, but I always felt a big sense of accomplishment when beating a level.
Well, I’m proud to say that Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien does an even better job of capturing that kind of feeling as well. No matter how frustrated or annoyed I am at missing a gold piece or getting hit by an obstacle, I always feel greatly rewarded by seeing what else the game has to offer.
The game picks up where the last one left off, with Commander Video and co. chasing after Timbletot. Video gets trapped in another dimension by Timbletot which he has to jump, slide and kick his way out of.
Of course, the game wants to tell you this every time you start it. Thankfully, you can skip the first cutscene. However, you can’t skip the advertisement beforehand or Charles Martinet welcoming you to the game. It’s cool the first time you hear it, but after you play the game multiple times you’ll be looking for any way you can to skip it, just to find that you can’t.
As the title says, the game itself is a platform runner. You never control how fast you run. Instead, you just dodge obstacles or perform different stunts while going through the five worlds. Each world has 14 stages, including a boss, along with five bonus stages. There are also three difficulty levels to try as well.
The different abilities you have are taught in a good way as well. They’re never just thrown onto you at once. You start off with just jump and duck, but will soon pick up block, kick, running a loop, dancing and more. Each time you learn a new technique you have a level to practice it and get used to it before it really gets tied into levels, meaning you should always know exactly what type of technique to use
As you run through levels running and dodging, your main goal is to collect treasure scattered gold each level, along with power-ups to increase the multiplier. The gold, combined with dodging and dancing in free areas, help build up your score so you can compete with friends and other plans on each level. The dancing is a big part to the score. Sure, you can collect everything and dodge every obstacle, but the end game comes into play when trying to figure out when to dance and how many times you can before an obstacle appears.
Collecting all the gold pieces in the level can also lead to a minigame at the end where Commander Video gets stuffed into a cannon. You then shoot him out to a bulls-eye where you try to get some bonus points by hitting the center.
So levels also have a few different features as well. Some feature a treasure chest that has a different costume for one of seven different characters to wear. There are also six characters to unlock in levels throughout the game. Other levels also feature hidden retro cartridges that let you play a retro world where you collect gold and dodge obstacles. My biggest complaint here is the three lives system. I know they’re trying to bring back the retro feel, but considering you can always retry the levels and always have to restart, why have the lives at all?
Another feature a lot of levels have are split paths. There’s always at least one easier path to take. However, the harder path can lead to an alternate exit with a hidden level or a treasure. Some paths, though, are blocked by a key which you need to unlock for a world by beating the key vault.
Besides Achievements and Trophies on the 360 and PS3, all versions also feature Rewards to unlock that include getting so much score over time or jumping so much or other progress points like this. They don’t do much, but always make you want to keep trying to progress and keep playing the game.
A feature on the Wii U system I liked in particular was the ability to watch and play the game off the GamePad. The game really feels great as a semi-portable title, and I think it will be a great port for the Vita this summer.
Probably the best part of the title, like most games in the Bit.Trip series, is the music. Every jump and dodge you make plays into the music and adds to the beat. In addition, power-ups change the sound and make the music sound fuller. Each level features catchy music and I always caught myself bobbing my head to the beat as I jumped and ducked my way through traps.
The graphics have also received an upgrade. They’re no longer the pixelated look from the first game, although the retro levels still feature it. Instead, the world has actual depth while still remaining colorful and vibrant. The worlds also have unique feels, along with a few secrets scattered throughout to find.
- Jumping and ducking work well and is smooth to switch between.
- Game offers plenty of levels and ways to increase high score.
- Soundtrack is really catchy.
- Difficulty can sometimes ratchet up.
- Have to sit through welcoming intro each time.
Overall, Runner 2 is a great step up for the Bit.Trip series. It’s addicting to play and has the difficulty/reward factor down. Definitely check it out if you’re a fan of platformers or runner-type games.