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FTG Review: Bit.Trip Saga (3DS)

 

The Bit.Trip series is one very close to my heart. Way back when the Wii still brought about feelings of hope and happiness, I bought my first two downloadable titles on the system: Orbient and Bit.Trip Beat. Orbient is still a really fun puzzle game, but Beat really resonated with me in a way not many games have. I’ve always like rhythm games, but the whole music genre was really starting to sour, since Rock Band had been out for 2 years at this point. Beat, with its rhythmic, pong-like gameplay, was still in that genre, but in a completely different and unique way.

Core upped the ante. It was more difficult, which sounded completely unreasonable, but remained manageable. The plot running through every title, the story of Commander Video, slowly started to manifest itself into a cohesive tale. The plot is the glue that binds the series together as a whole. It is abstract and very, what most would call, artistic and I think that works in its favor. These are rhythm games, a basic plot structure would only get in the way, but a series of artistic vignettes that play into the themes of each level accentuate the experience.

Beat was the first in the series and is like an insane, rhythm version of pong

Void twisted the series. While every entry is a rhythm game of sorts, Void is the first entry that doesn’t involve hitting buttons in time with what was happening on screen. You start as a small black circle, collecting the black dots to grow larger while avoiding the white ones and yet it never lost that rhythm feel. Gaijin Games really seem to have nailed a formula. They make fascinating games that, at their core, remain rhythm games. Their most notable and well known is the next entry, Runner.

Bit.Trip Runner is not only my favorite Bit.Trip game, but my favorite rhythm game. Runner takes the formula I’ve grown fond of and melds it into my nostalgia for old school platformers. It’s a perfect storm of mechanics and aesthetics as you jump, slide and kick to the beat. I’ve played my share of incredibly hard platformers and games in general. Bit.Trip, and Runner in particular, is one of the few that gnaws at the back of my brain for not being fully completed. Those challenge levels get so incredibly difficult, but never in a cheap way. Everything is based on mastering the mechanics, not luck, and I absolutely love that.

Fate is the odd duck of the series. It’s a shooter that has you moving on a fixed path, aiming with the stylus. It’s seems the least rhythm based on its surface. The plot line running through the series explains a lot of the elements in this entry that seem to not fit, not that these elements make this title bad. I do consider Fate the weakest of the series, but that doesn’t make it bad. Fate is a great title and worthy of playing and of purchasing when it was first released.

With Flux, the Bit.Trip series literally comes full circle and replicates the style of Beat, but with enough to differentiate it. This time the paddle is on the right side of the screen and there’s no fail state, if you ‘die’ you move back to one of the numerous checkpoints and continue on. It is similar to an HD remake, it adapts many of the additions the series gained over their releases, yet this is a unique experience.

Fate is the most different of the series

The Bit.Trip series is one of the only things that really justified Wiiware and because of its limit to that platform, so many people missed out on it. Saga stands to put it in the hands of handheld gamers everywhere in a complete form. This series simply works on a handheld and it has rarely left my 3DS since I got it. I am waiting patiently for Bit.Trip Runner 2 and I am salivating at the thought of what Gaijin will do next, their talent is something to keep an eye on.