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A High-Pressure Game - Bit.Trip Beat Review
Anyone who played 8-bit games back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s certainly has fond memories of playing levels repeatedly, getting just a bit closer to the goal every time, and ultimately clearing the stage. This style of gameplay is practically obsolete these days, but there are still a few titles out there that purposely challenge you and encourage you to give it one more go in the hopes that you’ll finally get past that tough level the next time. Bit.Trip Beat is one of those games, and its mix of high-pressure gameplay, rhythm mechanics, and simple controls makes it a compelling gameplay experience that should not be missed by gamers looking for a good retro challenge.
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Bit.Trip Beat Gameplay
There really isn’t much narrative behind Bit.Trip Beat, but that just adds a nice old-school touch to the game. You know you play as a pixelated spaceman named CommanderVideo, but that’s about it. You can play the game and use your imagination to craft a deep story, or you can look at it as a game that simply doesn’t need a plot. It’s open to interpretation, much like games of the NES era were.
At first glance, Bit.Trip Beat appears to be a simple Pong-inspired game. After a few minutes of playing, though, you see that it is much more than that. Though the Pong influence is there, rhythm, timing, and concentration are all a part of the experience. You control a paddle that’s located on the left side of the screen. Colorful pixels called beats make their way from right to left, and you must keep them from passing by blocking them with the paddle. Again, this is very Pong-like in premise, but because the beats move in different patterns and come in different shapes and sizes, it takes quick reflexes and a steady hand to deflect them successfully.
The game starts off fairly easy in order for you to learn the ropes, but after a few minutes, beats start appearing at a more rapid pace and in more complex patterns with a colorful pixelated light show in effect in the background. Return those beats with the paddle and you slowly fill up your Mega Meter. Once filled, you can rack up huge points and increase your score exponentially, which is what makes Bit.Trip Beat so insanely addictive. If you miss too many beats, however, you start to deplete your Nether Meter. Once this meter is completely drained, you enter a black-and-white music-less limbo. Deplete the Nether Meter here and it’s game over. Deflect beats and fill your Mega Meter, though, and you are returned to the colorful, sound-based world.
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You hold the Wii Remote horizontally and tilt it forward to move the paddle up and backward to move it down. The control scheme takes a little getting used to, but Bit.Trip Beat does a good job of allowing you to learn how to use the controls effectively in the first couple of minutes, and it quickly becomes second nature. The controls are responsive and intuitive, and they definitely fit well with this type of game.
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The visual style of Bit.Trip Beat consists entirely of pixels. The design manages to look very complex and very artful, though. This is due to the beats’ patterns and movements across the screen as well as the bright, animated backgrounds. When you fill your Mega Meter, the game’s look gets even more impressive. Every beat you deflect releases colorful pixels and everything looks like a computerized light spectacle. The game’s look is very indie and retro, and it is a true work of artistry.
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As you get deeper into the game, you discover that the music in Bit.Trip Beat is a huge part of the experience. Every beat you deflect adds to the game’s already enjoyable soundtrack. The chiptunes added to the soundtrack help you either create or hamper the sound, and this is something that really drives you to hit as many beats as possible in order to keep the music sounding great.
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Bit.Trip Beat consists of three 15-minute levels. That may not sound like a lot, but the game’s design encourages you to keep on playing. This is a hard game, and it takes more than one try to clear each level. However, Bit.Trip Beat is never really frustrating and features a “try again and get a little further each time” design that was seen in many old-school games. Additionally, beating your previous high score quickly becomes a priority in this game. It’s incredibly compelling replaying levels and trying to miss as few beats as possible in an attempt to score just a tad higher in the game’s leaderboards. You can even get together with up to three friends to take on levels and rack up points cooperatively.
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Bit.Trip Beat Review - Overall Score
At 600 Wii Points, Bit.Trip Beat is well worth the price of admission. There may only be three levels, but they are designed so cleverly and offer such a great challenge that you constantly want to go back and play again. Bit.Trip Beat is a really tough game, but it is also an incredibly rewarding one. This is a must-play title for anyone who enjoys challenging retro-style titles.