BIT.TRIP RUNNER is the latest in a series of loosely-related retro-styled arcade games from Gaijin. You take on the role of CommanderVideo, a blocky little guy who can run, slide, and kick like nobody's business. Work your way through over 50 stages, using rhythm-based platforming as you nail every jump, grab every pile of gold, and avoid every obstacle in your path. Because you're just that awesome.
BIT.TRIP RUNNER plays a lot like the browser game Canabalt, but there are a few neat differences that really set this one apart. For starters, BIT.TRIP features several additional moves like jumping, kicking, and sliding, along with environmental helpers such as springboards that can send you skyward. The action is still fast-paced and focused on left to right progression, but it's more varied, similar to a classic Sonic the Hedgehog game.
In addition to running and avoiding things, you'll also pick up blocky power-ups floating in the air that switch your mode from "hyper" to "mega", "super", "ultra", and finally "extra". Your mode determines how jazzy the background music is and also provides several visual flairs not present in lower modes. The more advanced your mode, the more difficult of a time you'll have making your journey, but it looks and sounds so much better, you'll want to crank it up to eleven (er, five) nonetheless. Also, depending on which difficulty level you choose, you'll be able to collect stacks of gold bars while running through each stage. Nab them all and you can participate in a bonus round where you go for even more loot! David Crane's Pitfall!, anyone?
Analysis: BIT.TRIP RUNNER is old school to the core. The "try until you get it right" gameplay would be right at home in an arcade cabinet. The music sounds like an NES, and visually, it sort of looks like an old Atari release, with chunky pixellated... everything, two-frame animations, and single color characters. Really, though. BIT.TRIP RUNNER's visuals are totally modern, as once you start playing, you'll see the smoothness in motion, marvel at the intricate details in the background and foreground, and go "ooohhh" when that little rainbow appears behind CommanderVideo.
And now for the music. That wonderful, wonderful music. The BIT.TRIP series has always been about fusing music with gameplay, offering little bonuses like power-ups that play sounds in time with the background when you collect them. That kind of syncopation, when implemented correctly, allows a game to leap the boundaries of player vs. computer screen and really pull you in to the experience. BIT.TRIP RUNNER nails that right on, creating a running game with fantastic chiptune-inspired music you won't be able to get enough of. And having Anamanaguchi guest starring never hurts, either!
Many of the BIT.TRIP games are available only on the Wii Shopping Channel. A few, however, have broken those constraints and worked their way to other platforms, such as BIT.TRIP RUNNER for PC/Mac and BIT.TRIP BEAT for PC, Mac, and iTunes App Store. Each title features a similar trial-and-error/fail sort of gameplay, retro graphics, rhythm-based gameplay, and loads of fun, so if you own a Wii, we highly recommend you check out the rest of the series!
BIT.TRIP RUNNER and the rest of the BIT.TRIP series are really something special to behold. The combination of old school design concepts and modern conveniences make it a great experience for seasoned and less-than-seasoned gamers alike, and the sense of zen mastery you obtain when you finally peg a level is worth working for!
Get the full version (via Steam)
Mac OS X:
Get the full version (via Steam)
For fans of the series, Gaijin Games do intend to publish the entire series on Steam.
I'm not sure why they went out of order, but supposedly, they're working on other projects as well, so this is probably just how they believed they could prioritize their resources best.
I love this series. BIT.TRIP RUNNER is definitely a favorite. It becomes challenging and the "throwback" bonus levels make it even better. If you do have a Wii, I suggest giving the other games a try.
@Pidgeot: Thanks for letting us fans know. Do you have a source to back it up? :)
@Pidgeot: RUNNER was released earlier because the Wii version was nominated for the IGF Graphics Award, and they wanted to bring it to PC players, too.
In case you didn't follow the IGFA, they won :D