BIT.TRIP Complete preview (Wii)
Just settling down to play BIT.TRIP Complete is an experience seldom had in the modern era. It’s an assortment of 80’s-inspired mini-games for Nintendo Wii that echo a golden age in gaming. Ahead of a March 16th release Stephen Ebert went on a tuneful voyage of retro rediscovery.
BIT.TRIP Complete is a collection of mini games inspired by the past in both gameplay and aesthetic, if not quite sound. Think 8-bit gaming with better music, and you’ll get the idea. That may upset the purists and those who grew up in the 8-bit era, but the soundtrack to BIT.TRIP Complete really is a glorious orchestra of 8-bit effects laced with trendy beats.
There’s always plenty of bustling activity on screen, but you’ll wish there wasn’t just so you could savour the sounds. This is musical therapy, in video game form, rivaling even Child of Eden on artistic merit alone.
On gameplay, too? Like Child of Eden, BIT.TRIP Complete has the ability to immerse you without realising. It’s a sensory overload in both sight and sound. Its six games: Beat, Core, Void, Runner, Fate and Flux offer little we didn’t see over 20 years ago, but that’s just part of the appeal. This is quick blast instant gratification action, with music at the core of everything that happens in a series of delightfully addictive games.
Back to (old) school
Beat is a Pong-like game, where each hit from the paddle, controlled by a horizontal swivel of the Nintendo Wii remote scores points and livens up the beat. Each miss is a step closer to spoiling the party, gradually resulting in an overcast monochrome screen and the music muting till you recover.
Void is a clever game of risk and reward. Using the Wii Nunchuk analogue stick you control a black dot that must collect other dots to grow bigger whilst avoiding incoming white dots. Colliding with one shrinks you, removing your points tally, so cashing in on your points at the right time is the only way to score big in a game that rewards exciting styles of play.
Fate plays like an old school side-scroller on rails that has you shooting lasers at walls to clear the way while enemies fire at you from all directions requiring the players fullest concentration. Boss battles lend some welcome finality to each stage. Core is a battle of the senses and a true test of whether you have an ear for a beat. The premise is simple. Press buttons in time with said beat. The challenging reality will have you self-harming within minutes, and then wanting to do it all over again.
Runner is an early favourite. It’s a 2D side-scrolling platformer where you control a constantly moving 8-bit character that must run, jump and duck pat enemies in time with a beat. It’s another gratifying game of timing and patience. Mistime (you’ll be doing plenty of that) and you’ll crash into a wall and be forced to start over. Short but challenging levels encourage repeat goes and encapsulate everything there is to love about some of the games on show.
Whichever BIT.TRIP Complete game you play, there’s no denying that each has a magical quality that developer Gaijin games has bottled up for this budget Wii package. In today’s climate of shooter sequels and multi-million blockbuster games, BIT.TRIP Complete is a reality check of what we loved about games in the first place.