Bit Trip Beat might be one of the most accurate titles in recent memory. Those three simple words sound like a weird mash-up of awkward consonants, but they actually do a great job of describing what sort of insanity is going on in this retro-inspired rhythm game. Its 8-bit visuals are firmly rooted in the 1980s, the gameplay is built around an escalating beat, and the entire thing is quite simply a trip to behold. See? Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but at least it's accurate.
In terms of gameplay, Bit Trip Beat feels like a cross between Pong and a side-scrolling shooter.. with some Rez mixed in. You control a paddle on the left side of the screen and tilt the Wii remote like a dial to move said paddle up or down along a vertical axis. Scrolling in from the right are a series of colored blocks, and each of those blocks represents a sound on a gloriously lo-fi techno song. Once they hit your paddle, they'll make a noise in time with the song, and missing them with your paddle means the double shame of bad aim and bad rhythm.
The tricky part is that you build up a multiplier as you do better, which only increases the level of sheer insanity going on onscreen. The complexity of your targets (they're not exactly enemies) increases exponentially, and so does the complexity of the song. So while a single yellow block might sound like a snare drum hit, a trail of swirling trail of blue blocks might sound like a cascading synth keyboard riff. There's also an orange block that bounces repeatedly on your paddle, speeding things up a bit, or at least making the song sound faster. That's just a taste, though; there are all sorts of crazy, chaotic block patterns that you'll have to deal with that require quick reflexes and a solid understanding of pattern-based gameplay to nail. But when you get it, it pays off with the feeling that you're really a part of the music.
There are three levels packed into this small WiiWare game, and they increase in difficulty as you progress through them. Not only do the onscreen targets get crazier as you continue on, but so does the way you can earn points. One example is the power-down, which will shrink your paddle but increase the rate at which you collect points. It's a tough tradeoff, because smaller paddle means increased likelihood of missing targets. When you miss enough, you'll drop into a sort of Pong purgatory where the screen goes black and white, the sound drops out, and you need to quickly hit enough targets to revive yourself.
Bit Trip Beat will support four-player co-op, which allows you to play on the same exact levels, but with four paddles each at a quarter of the normal size. Single-player is already pretty challenging with a normal-sized paddle, so good luck to anyone who dares take on this challenge. But if our time with the game is any indication, it should be a bizarrely fun challenge, because Bit Trip Beat represents that crossover between dead-simple visuals and strangely addictive gameplay. No release date of price has been officially announced, but we're told it should be available very soon at the 500 Wii point price range.