Personal Rating: " Worth playing"
Traditional Rating: 7/10
Genre: Rhythmic Platformer
BIT.TRIP RUNNER see's you take control of Commander Video, the main protagonist from the BIT.TRIP series but this is the first BIT.TRIP game where you actually get to control the Commander. BIT.TRIP is the fourth game in the BIT.TRIP series and is best described as a "Rhythm 2D Platformer" or alternatively as the kind of game that places gamers into mental institutions (more on this later).
BIT.TRIP RUNNER's world is divided into three zones each containing 11 levels plus a boss encounter. The main objective for each level is to simply avoid all the obstacles in your way as you character moves from left to right. Commander Video is equipped with various mechanisms to avoid these obstacles such as jumping, sliding and kicking. Once the game starts there is no stopping the Commander unless you become entwined with one of the many obstacles placed in his way which will result in the Commander being warped right back to the start of the level. Various things like power upgrades and score multipliers will be placed in your path to boost your gains. These multipliers and upgrades will also have a distinct effect on the games soundtrack adding more and more layers to the electronic soundtrack the further along the level you progress.
At its heart, BIT.TRIP RUNNER is a game of memory. It all starts out deceptively easy but by the time you start to close out the first zone, levels start to get incredibly long (some lasting upwards of 10 minutes) and it can get incredibly frustrating nearing the end of a level only to slip up and get dragged all the way back to the beginning. Apart from memory, BIT.TRIP RUNNER also demands absolute focus and concentration from its players and I often found the game to be incredibly exhausting (particularly the later levels which seriously increase in length and difficulty). Often multipliers and upgrades will be placed in tenuous positions that will require some quick fiddling with the controller or keyboard lest you connect with one of the obstacles and see yourself placed, yet again, right back at the beginning of the stage. This is where the mental institution bit raises its head because many a time it will induce the kind of rage that bursts blood vessels, brings on tantrums and produces tears. To the non-initiated it may look very much like the start of madness and often it is. BIT.TRIP RUNNER demands a lot from its players so be prepared to gnash teeth, throw keyboards and controllers and generally swear like a foul-mouthed demon that has just raised its head from the pits of hell.
I enjoyed the 8bit style graphics meshed with modern game design and the elecronic soundtrack, whilst incredibly cool at first gets incredibly repetitive as the levels progress. Since you are only given one tune to enchance per zone, if you land up spending hours and hours in one zone be prepared to listen to the same tune over and over and over (which can also induce all forms and sorts of madness on its own).
BIT.TRIP RUNNER is not the kind of game you play solidly for 8 hours at a stretch but as game to occasionally dip your toe into during playthroughs of other games it can be a lot of fun. Just know what you are getting yourself into and make sure that memory of yours can beat an elephants.