Bit. Trip Runner 2 Hands-On Preview At PAX East 2012
I’m kind of a Bit. Trip junkie. The retro styled rhythm game series from Gaijin Games has taken up residence in a special place reserved in my heart. Hell, I own Bit. Trip Beat on the Wii, PC, and iOS! Thankfully, the team announced that they were working on a sequel to Bit. Trip Runner, one of the best games in the entire series. I initially didn’t think that I’d see a Gaijin Games booth while at PAX East, but was shocked and extremely excited to see that they were showing off (Take a breath here): Bit. Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien. Naturally, I had to get my hands on the game as soon as I could. While the gameplay trailers and screenshots show a drastically different looking game than what we’re used to with the Bit. Trip series, make no mistake that this newest adventure with Commander Video is exactly what you’d expect and more.
Runner 2, the newest adventure with Commander Video
Gameplay in Runner 2 is for the most part the same as in the original game. Commander Video can jump, kick, and slide in order to avoid obstacles. In the original game there were a maximum number of points that could be obtained on any given level, which sort of killed the concept of competing for high scores. Runner 2 changes that with the ability to make Commander Video dance by pressing the right trigger (My demo took place on an Xbox 360 build of the game). While dancing you can gain more points, however you are unable to react to hazards along the way, so it’s best to dance when you have a nice stretch of empty road. And even if you do run into an obstacle, Runner 2 thankfully adds checkpoints which helps to let up on the game’s sometimes brutal demand for perfection.
Just because Runner 2 has alot of gameplay mechanics in common with its predecessor, don’t think that the levels are still just linear paths. This time around, you can take different routes through levels in order to find hidden unlockables. I was told by folks at Gaijin Games that you can find keys hidden in the levels that will unlock doors leading to new routes. On top of that, some branching paths will lead to new characters to play as or coins that can be used to purchase new costumes and characters. When asked which characters we would be able to play as, the developers said that both Commandgirl Video and a…er…pickle (who appears at every checkpoint) would be playable, but could not say anymore about who else would be appearing.
Obviously, the biggest change in Runner 2 are the visuals. Gone are the retro graphics, and in their place are bright, “living” HD environments. Hills in the background now have faces while once blocky trees and buildings are now round and smooth. The overall color scheme looks as though it’s leaning more towards pastels rather than bright neons. Commander Video now appears more cylindrical, looking more like he belongs in a cartoon rather than a retro videogame. Even his trademark rainbow trail has been replaced in favor of a rainbow scarf that flaps around behind him, rather than leaving a permanent trail. Fans of the classic art style might be upset with this new look, but it honestly works really well, especially after seeing some of Commander Video’s ridiculous dance moves. Fortunately, we’ll all be able to see these cool new features in HD, as the game will be coming to both PSN and XBLA (as well as a potential Wii U release).
I can already tell that Runner 2 is going to be great. The original Runner was a simple game that anyone could play and enjoy, yet it was never too easy to the point where you’d quit out of frustration. Everything you know and love from the series is coming back; bigger and better than ever: the music, the gameplay, the challenge, and, of course, Commander Video. There isn’t a firm release date yet for Runner 2, and the wait is going to absolutely kill me. Then again, I should probably just go back and play the entire series over to prep myself up for my fix of some rhythm-game goodness.
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