The BIT.TRIP is a collection of the BIT.TRIP games, at least the first six, all under one title. Some of the games are fun or stellar, while other are lackluster and don’t have any substance to attract gamers. It’s difficult to review a collection of games, especially when you’ve never played them and can’t make a comparative note. Each game won’t have a score, however; the final score will reflect the overall package of The BIT.TRIP, making distinctions along the way for each title.
The first game is Beat: a game which, for all intents and purposes, is a Pong replica, except you’re playing against yourself. To begin, the game uses the Vita’s gyroscope, calibrating it when you boot up Beat, and you must tilt the handheld to control the paddle. Pixels will enter the screen, along different trajectories and speeds, where you must line up the paddle to bounce them out the screen. The more pixels you miss, the higher your “Nether” meter will build up – a mechanic featured across the majority of the games – and you’ll have a small window to correct yourself before it’s game over. I actually enjoyed Beat; it’s fast, fun and chaotic. My only problem with it is the gyroscope, obviously something that is key to the game. I’ve always hated the gyroscope; it feels gimmicky and unreliable – when you have pixels coming from all over the spectrum and you need to be quick, you’ll find yourself messing up and blaming it, not your own ability. Because of that, I’m not sure I’d recommend Beat, not unless you are OK with gyroscope-centric gameplay.
Core, a game where you “laser” down pixels as they come flying in from four different directions, is next. The game is also very chaotic, yet fun; you have to keep up with which pixels came first in what direction in order to time it correctly. Core is one of the games that features the Nether system, which I really like. It gives you an opportunity to get a comeback and stay in the game without making you feel bad about, frankly, playing badly. The mode is hard, like extremely hard, and you’ll find yourself losing your temper quite often, but I found it to be one of the memorable – and more beautiful – games in the collection.
Void is probably my favorite game in the collection. With three stages, each named after a part of the Freudian mind, you’ll be avoiding white pixels while building up your blob with black ones. The catch is that your blob can get too big, and you’ll need to pop it in order to better avoid the white pixels. Between its colorful display and awesome patterns, Void easily held my attention ‘til its end. It may not be long, totaling maybe two hours, but it was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s level designs are smartly constructed and I don’t think a single person should sleep on this title.
The next game, Runner, was surprising; I didn’t think I would like something like it as much as I ended up. Runner has you, well, running through different stages with various obstacles you must face – the running is automatic and you must control the runner’s reactions to those obstacles – and it’s your objective to collect as much goal as you possibly can. I originally thought it was going to be like most runners I played. However, since it has stages, more objective-based and has bosses, it felt refreshing. I did have some issued, though. When you pick up a power-up or gold, there is a blast of color on the screen. That blast can actually cover up the upcoming obstacle and ruin the groove you had established during that run. Also, there was a bit of a frame rate issue when too much was going on on-screen. Overall, Runner was great, and it may spur me to purchasing its sequel, which is already on Vita.
Fate is an on-rails twin stick shooter. You’ll have your path predetermined, but you can go forward and backward as you shoot the enemies. Just like every shooter, there are power-ups, and they are awesome; ranging from an omnidirectional fire to giant blobs, they feel like power-ups and are well-designed. Sadly, Fate is easy – too easy. I often found myself holding down the right stick, the one that shoots, and getting by no problem. The only real challenge are the boss fights at the end of each level. Also well-designed, bosses make you come up with a strategy on the spot, and feel like a boss fight. However, some people may find the real challenge is getting through the boring level beforehand to just encounter them.
The last game in the collection is Flux, which is just a rehash of Beat. The differences are fairly minor – in Flux the paddle is on the right, Beat’s is on the left – and it also utilizes the gyroscope, though it doesn’t seem more accurate and responsive than Beat’s. If I had to recommend one over the other, it would be Flux. The pixels and the “stage’s” design are more varied and interesting that you’ll sit and think, “That’s cool.” However, I’m just not a fan of the gyroscope and can’t tolerate using those controls for more than a 5- or 10-minute session.
There are some qualities that range across every single game in The BIT.TRIP. Every game has a great soundtrack that’s responsive to what’s happening in the game, like jumping a hurdle in Runner, and it just makes the game seem so right. On top of that, the colors are psychedelic and pop out. They look great on the Vita’s OLED and aren’t too obnoxious.
The BIT.TRIP collection has some very solid games – Runner, Void and Core – while the other games aren’t as up-to-snuff as they could be. Again, it’s hard to recommend a collection of games when the titles in it are so varied and different from one another. However, I do think the collection is very open about what the games are and what they involve – you won’t buy it and be surprised, except for maybe Runner. In the end, I think The BIT.TRIP offers some good games for me, and I enjoyed my time. If you were to take a look and see that two or three games pique your interest, then that warrants a purchase – one where you won’t be disappointed.