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Bit.Trip Presents: Runner 2, Future Legend of Rhythm Alien Review

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On 03/07/2013 at 12:00 PM by Jesse Miller

I'm tripping out of my skull!

For fans of the original, those that love classic arcade games, and those looking for a little trip.

I’ve often said that simplicity is underrated, especially when it comes to video games.  Growing up there wasn’t much you had to learn to play a video game.  With only two buttons and a d-pad, there were only so many control schemes you could cram into an NES game.  Some may think that’s limiting, but I think it’s more inviting.  Anyone can pick up an NES game and be able to figure out the basic controls right away.  Mastering these controls, well, that’s a different thing all together.

Bit.Trip Runner was a call back to these simplistic control schemes.  It’s a game where the goal is to run from point A to point B without getting hit.  You could jump and slide.  That’s it.  Finished off with some catchy tunes and a retro paint job, you’ve got one of my personal favorite rhythm games of all time. 

Sequels tend to complicate things.  They add new elements on top of the core established in the original, rendering the game less accessible to a new audience.  With Runner’s sequel, Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (let’s just call it Runner 2 from now on), the changes – the complications – are immediately apparent.  Gone is the retro, pixilated look; replaced with a rather slick and smooth graphical styling more appropriate to more modern games.  New control mechanics are introduced very early on - kicking, bouncing, springing and whirly-gigging - more than doubling our Commander Video’s moveset.

I expected to be bothered by these changes, and I’ll admit to being a little put-off at first glance, but this would only be a temporary state-of-mind for me.  Runner 2 is more than a worthy successor to the original – it’s better in every single way; and still just as accessible.

The original Runner was known for its difficulty.  In the tradition of its NES ancestors and more modern games like Super Meat Boy (to whom it pays tribute at times), Runner 2 starts off nice and simple before ramping up the difficulty by mixing up the trained elements.  As a result of this natural progression and mixing, there is no dreaded difficulty spike; rather it’s a gradual build that makes completing levels and attaining high scores much more satisfying.

In a game where the goal is to simply run to the end of the level, linearity can be a problem, and was to an extent in the original.  Runner 2 addresses this issue by introducing multiple paths, each marked with an arrow indicating the path’s difficulty (red for hard, green for easy).  Not only does this add an element of choice, but it encourages experimentation and replay.

Accessibility becomes an issue when complexity is added – in this case with an expanded moveset and levels with multiple paths – but this has been addressed as well.  Runner 2 boasts a more modern gaming element in the form of check points.  The hardcore gamers out there may be gnashing their teeth at this addition, but I’d like to point out that these checkpoints are completely optional.  If you want to give yourself a little extra challenge you can simply jump over the checkpoint.  Yup, if you jump over it and then fail you’ll be transported back to the very beginning of the game instead of the checkpoint.

Runner 2 is a rhythm game, and that means music.  Many of the tunes will seem familiar to fans of the original, but that isn’t a bad thing.  Old tunes have been remixed and sound even better than before and the new jams fit right in; compliment the old while blazing new ground.

If the game has any obvious shortcomings, it’s in the menu management.  The sheer number of different menu items is rather odd considering the limited functions, which can make things like leaderboards a bit difficult to access or even find in the first place.  And while the Wii U version isn’t affected, it should be noted that other versions of the game suffer from overly long load times.

Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is a natural progression to the series that will serve veterans and noobs alike.  That being said, if you didn’t enjoy the original, you’re not likely going to find a lot to love here.  Now excuse me while I start tripping.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Matt Snee Staff Writer

03/07/2013 at 05:45 PM

I haven't played the other games but I've been hearing a lot about this.  I just might have to check it out. 

Good review!


03/07/2013 at 05:50 PM

" excuse me while I start tripping." Effing ace! x)

Cary Woodham

03/07/2013 at 07:26 PM

I reviewed this game, too!  You can read it here if you like.  --Cary

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

03/07/2013 at 11:02 PM

I love this game. It's just so charming, addictive, humorous, and it's narrated by Charles Martinet.

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