Bit. Trip Beat is a unique, immersive game that sports more longenevity than you might think.

User Rating: 9 | Bit.Trip Beat WII
I called it. When I first saw the concept for Gajin's first game, Bit Trip Beat, I deemed it an instant win. Super-difficult pong set to chiptone music. It was almost the coolest thing I've ever seen, and here's the facts to back it up.

The concept in Beat is simple. Like the original "Pong" you have a small paddle on the left side of the screen. You can move this paddle up and down by holding the Wiimote sideways and tilt it forwards and backwards respectively. Your job is to reflect little squares called "bits" that are coming at your side of the screen in all different colors and patterns, all the time following the beat of the chiptone tune in the background.

On the main menu you're given a choice of three songs. Only the first is unlocked, and you have to conquer it before you can select the second song, and so on. At first, the choice of only three songs might be a bit of a turn off. But, there are a couple factors that give the game much more longenevity than meets the eye. First off, these are no wimpy three-minute songs. Each song is roughly fifteen minutes long, and you won't be beating them on the first run. Guaranteed. The second factor is the biggest one. This game is meant to be a tribute to old-school gaming, and with it comes old-school difficulty. If you're really good, you might be able to take on the first song on your first go, but don't count on it with the other two.

The difficulty comes from the massive variety of the bits. You won't just be facing yellow dots coming at you in straight lines. Those'll be there, no doubt, but you'll face long lines of them, pulsating up and down like worms. Some will stop half way and move, trying to throw you off. Some blink on and off, some are the exact length of you're paddle, the list goes on and on. A meter on the bottom of the screen will keep track of how many bits you've missed. Miss too many, and the usually colorful, pulsating background will disappear; the music and sound will cut, and you'll suddenly be playing the game with black and white visuals reminiscent of the original Pong. This place is called Nether. Hit enough bits, and you'll escape; miss too many more and it's game over for you. Succeeding on the songs relies on playing them over and over, until you know what's coming and you can get it right. Surprisingly, this doesn't get old. You'll want to play the song over and over until you finally conquer it.

The music of Beat is a huge factor, because the game centers around it. The bits coming at you follow patterns in the music, and make sounds when you hit them that add to the tune. Well, take it from me, Gajin has done well. The tunes have a heavy pulsating beat, and I can't explain it, but the music has a sort of "epicness" to it. There's just something that happens when you're doing well, and that music is pulsing in the background. If you get a certain amount of bits without slipping into Nether, you're Nether-meter is erased, and suddenly the sound and visual quality ups a bit, taking on a bit more of a modern look and sound, the sound more than anything. It's a largely satisfying experience.

Finally, the game takes on a bit of an art form as well. The game (along with the other games in the series) is supposed to tell a story. Apparently, this story largely takes place in the background during a song. As interesting as this is, it really only provides eye candy for those watching. I don't doubt the background means something, but you can't really pay a lot of attention when 2000 bits are flying at you at high speeds. It's a bit awkward and a shame.

After you've beaten the game, there's not tons to do, but there is one thing. Already pre-programmed into the game is a set of high-scores. Some of them are insane, but if you're - enough, you can take 'em on at your leisure. The only major flaw is what critics have been saying since this game's launch, and that is "no online leaderboards." It's a crying shame, because they would've added so much to the title.

At first glance, Bit Trip Beat doesn't seem worth it. It's only $6 but you'll have to shell out $10 minimum. In reality, though, Bit Trip Beat is worth every penny you pay. You're getting a unique gaming experience that's truly something special. You won't regret giving this one a download.


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