I have been doing some serious playings on Bit Trip Runner for the past 3 days, and it is quite enjoyable. I have been jumping, kicking, sliding and most importantly running like a crazy man and it has been a whole lot of fun.
When I first heard of Runner, I was immediately concerned. Clearly Gaijin Games was going insane by daring to make a Bit Trip game where you control Commander Video himself instead of an ambiguous blocky shape, and I got quite nauseous and dizzy when I heard there was going to be a "Non Trotski", whatever that is. However, once all the dust settled it became quite clear that Gaijin Games knew what they were doing all along and the world resumed spinning on its normal axis. Runner is certainly quite different from the epic synthaesthetic blobs that precede it, but it is also completely a Bit Trip game.
Instead of demanding that players sit down for 15 minutes to progress through the game, Runner has chopped itself into many small, digestible pieces which makes it much more accessible. Each of the game's 3 worlds is comprised of 11 one-to-two minute long levels and a boss battle, and the game's menu makes it quite easy to pick up and put down the game whenever one wants. However, this setup takes away most of the engrossing, trance-inducing feeling that the series had, since you're not carefully building up a single song over a long period of time. There is still a song-building element in the game, but it only lasts for the duration of each small level and is then reset when you procede to the next.
What Runner does carry on well is rhythmic, timing-based gameplay. Like Vib Ribbon, Canabalt, and probably some other games I haven't played, Runner's game is built entirely around timing moves precisely. The whole running part is done automatically so all one has to fret about is getting those jumps just right. His Royal Lord The Right Honourable King Video also has a few other moves at his disposal. He can kick, slide, and spring up with trampolines, and it's never unclear what obstacle demands which move. There is also a 5th maneuvre in the game, but it is introduced quite late in the game and comes off as redundant and unneccessary especially with the game's bonus levels.
Each level in Runner has a bonus level that can be accessed by catching all of a level's gold bars, and these extra stages are honestly the best part of the game (partly because they look like they came out of an Atari game). These stages are much harder than regular stages and only put to use Senor Video's jumping, sliding, and trampolining abilities. This is the main reason I like the bonus stages so much, because they keep things simple yet incredibly varied and challenging. The funny thing about these stages is that the only significant difference between them and the regular stylized stages is their appearance, lack of music, and difficulty, as if Gaijin Games only made them to point out how much more important good gameplay is to everything else in a game.
Above all of this stuff though, is the game's superb plot which, while open to interpretation, has been thouroughly analyzed and dissected by yours truly. The game is clearly about a man (represented by Emperor Video) who works through many menial jobs like miner and city construction worker (represented by the game's stage backgrounds) in order to get enough money (gold bars) to be able to fulfill his fondest dreams - going for exciting jungle field trips (represented by the pitfall-style bonus stages). Runner is clearly a tale of perseverance and determination, teaching us that you can achieve all that you want as long as you work hard and time your jumps correctly. You can try and outdo my interpretation, but it is basically indisputable because I have countless experiments and books I have read, you see.
The only major complaint I have for this game is that the 3-D perspective sometimes makes it hard to tell how close Captain Video is to an incoming obstacle. Other than that this game clearly deserves:
Cherry Pie A La Mode out of 10.
I suggest everyone to go get it because it is loads of fun and is also only 8 dollars (8 dollars!).
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