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Review

Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien Review

  • First Released
    released
  • Reviewed
  • WIIU

Runner 2 artfully blends entrancing music and accessible gameplay to create a joyful experience.

The original Bit.Trip Runner was a simply named, retro-styled rhythm platforming game that deftly intertwined music and gameplay. The sequel, Bit.Trip Presents…Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, is more elaborately named and more visually lush, but its immense appeal is once again fueled by the elegant marriage of music and gameplay. As you leap and slide your way past obstacles as the perpetually sprinting protagonist, your actions trigger beats and chimes that enrich the burgeoning musical track. This creates a connection between you and the game that builds and builds, leading to an experience that is joyful, rewarding, and as challenging as you want it to be.

If you've played Runner 2's predecessor, Bit.Trip Runner, then you already know all the basics. Your character starts the level running, and doesn't stop until the end, providing you can avoid every single obstacle that appears in your way. Pits, robots, projectiles, walls, and more force you to jump, slide, block, and kick with judicious timing, lest one false move send you hurtling back to the beginning of the level.

These impediments and evasive maneuvers are introduced at a gentle, yet brisk, pace. By the end of the first of five worlds, you learn everything you could ever do in the first game, and then some. This structure keeps things lively for Runner veterans while remaining accessible for newcomers. If you find things are a bit too easy or too hard for your tastes, the adjustable difficulty level does a great job of helping you find a balance. Whether you're cruising past obstacles effortlessly, nimbly maneuvering through a tricky run, or trying time and time again to navigate a fiendish gauntlet, surmounting the challenges of Runner 2 is an enjoyable pursuit.

The whimsical environmental design adds to the appeal. Commander Video and his playable compatriots move with jaunty, fluid animations, while doofy robots, disgruntled hills, and even a jubilant Sasquatch watch from the background. There are a few elements that can be visually distracting at times, notably the kickable obstacles and the mid-level checkpoint attendees, but Runner 2 engenders the kind of focus that will likely allow you to navigate levels undeterred by occasional distractions. The Wii U version performs well on both big and small screen, though the controller screen does have the advantage of looking a bit smoother.

CommandGirl Video runs around one of the new score-boosting diamonds.

To encourage you to press onward and strive upward, the aforementioned checkpoints help mitigate the punishment for missteps. If you like your stakes high, however, you can always leap over a checkpoint and earn a nice point bonus for working without a net. Branching paths, unlockable treasures, and hidden retro bonus stages augment the generous difficulty spread and increase replay incentive, as do the online leaderboards. In Runner, you could achieve the perfect score on each level, but with the addition of point-garnering dance moves in Runner 2, every spare stretch of track is a chance to push your score a wee bit higher and edge out the competition.

There's a great sense of satisfaction that comes from acing levels and blasting yourself into the bonus bull's-eye at the end, but the real magic of Runner 2 lies in the music. Every obstacle you avoid and item you pick up sounds a chime or a beat that fits seamlessly into the musical track. This creates a powerful link between your actions and the music, enmeshing you in the rhythm of the stage and making you feel like part of the composition. It's an exhilarating feeling, one that not only makes you feel good, but also makes you play better. You may find yourself so in tune with the game that you feel like you're reacting instinctually with button presses before you consciously realize what you're doing. This is a rare sensation, one that compels you to start the next level even if you struggled mightily to complete the last one.

Every track gets richer the further you progress into a level thanks to certain power-ups that trigger a musical escalation. This progression sweeps you up in the action, propelling you along with increasing momentum (though, of course, your character's run speed remains steady). The final such power-up always elevates the melody to ethereal heights, creating a premature release of the tension that's been building all stage. You still have obstacles to overcome, but you coast past these with supreme confidence, buoyed by the euphoric melodies. You feel like you've already succeeded, and when you triumphantly ride this feeling across the finish line, it's just the glorious cherry on top. It's an ingenious stroke of mood management, one that makes your experience all the more pleasurable and engrossing.

Unkle Dill cheers on all checkpoint skippers.

Runner 2 ensnares your emotions with an artful cocktail of music and gameplay, sweeping you along in its rhythm and lighting up a smile on your face. It's a wonderful sensation to lose yourself in this game, whether you are facing down the formidable challenges of The Mounting Sadds or simply going for a breezy run in The Emerald Brine. Runner 2 doesn't just offer you an entertaining experience; it throws its arm around you companionably, ushers you into its whimsical world, and makes you feel like part of something special.

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The Good
Exuberant soundtrack
Engrossing connection between action and music
Broadly accessible difficulty spectrum
Charming world and characters
Fiendish challenges available for the intrepid
The Bad
N/A
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews
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About the Author

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.
55 comments
Thesuperstar2k
Thesuperstar2k

So getting this game! Runner is the only game that is awesome out of Bit Trip franchise.

saeton
saeton

I feel like I'm one of the only people that isn't ga ga for this game. Does it get better after the second world?


When I discovered Frequency on the PS2, I became hooked on music and rhythm games. For whatever reason, I keep finishing levels on Runner 2 and asking myself, is this over yet? 


I love its style and design, but I feel like there isn't enough musical variety, and listening to the same tune in C major for levels upon levels on end was way more frustrating for me than any of the jump, slide, and kick choreography routines I was leading Commander Video through.

emmeno1
emmeno1

That awkward moment when a 15$ downloadable and a port are the highest rated games on a console <.<

Seethful
Seethful

It's really sad seeing some normal repetitive games get 9 easily and revolutionary games such as (The last of us) barely  get 8.

i am completely amused by the unjustified ranking of games.

sjawz3288
sjawz3288

I absolutely love this game. Played through the entire game getting perfects on each level. Now going back and getting triple perfects for each level.

Naylord
Naylord

does it support play on the gamepad?

Paul Bastin
Paul Bastin

I've never enjoyed any endless running games. The first one was more frustrating than it was fun.

Saul Fresnokila Rivera
Saul Fresnokila Rivera

I enjoyed the first game a lot..and after playing the demo I can say this one sure has a lot more going for it...so I'll surely buy it when I get a chance

Bob Rea
Bob Rea

played the demo yesterday. boooooooring

BrutalPandaX2
BrutalPandaX2

Great review. I'm gonna get this on the Wii U when I get it.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

Bought this as soon as I found out it released on PSN, which was yesterday. Sure it was a day later, but whatever. I loved the original; not only is it the best auto-running game I've played, it's also one of the best entirely 2D platformers I've played this generation, alongside Super Meatboy, Outland, both Tales From Space games, Sound Shapes, Rayman Origins, etc.

T3H_1337_N1NJ4
T3H_1337_N1NJ4

Meh, I never managed to enjoy the first one. It basically consisted in:

Start level

Die

Restart level with a little more memorized, thus go farther.

Die

Repeat

Maybe since this one has checkpoints I'll enjoy it more. Not sure if I should give it a try.

olympiooly
olympiooly

@Seethful  well don't blame Gamespot. blame the reviewers.


tom mcshea is the one who posts all the controversially low ratings for otherwise highly acclaimed games. and even then, his criticisms are usually entirely valid, if often accompanied by too severely admonished ratings.

everyone appreciates your thoughtful and indepth review of runner 2 btw. "normal repetitive game"

deep.

btw. last of us was great. but i ended up putting more time into runner 2.

olympiooly
olympiooly

@sjawz3288 i'm in the same boat. i played through the game and beat every level on hard, with a perfect.

beat every retro and got every treasure. now i'm going back through to get perfect easy/normal on every level. the "clean up" as i call it should be quite relaxing compared to the difficulty of some of the levels on hard. especially when i'd insta-gibb myself if i missed even a single coin or music mode modification cross.

olympiooly
olympiooly

@Paul Bastin no one will remember your failure to handle the first epic masterpiece but you.

remember it in shame.

RealFabioSooner
RealFabioSooner

@Leboyo56 One day later AND with a 20% discount. I'd jumped all over it if I hadn't preordered it on Steam in a special bundle with the soundtrack (which will be, I'll bet, the best gaming soundtrack we'll hear this year).

gamewizard65
gamewizard65

@T3H_1337_N1NJ4 Sounds like you suck at games that have a challenge. Go play something like Kirby's Epic Yarn and leave us men alone.

JordanElek
JordanElek

@T3H_1337_N1NJ4 Runner2 is significantly easier than the first game. It very rarely throws things at you that you can't see coming in time to avoid them, and it doesn't require the kind of absolute precision that so much of the first game does.

It's just as fun as the first game, though, and in some ways it's more fun.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@T3H_1337_N1NJ4 It sounds games like this, Super Meat Boy, and Dark Souls just weren't meant for you.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@RealFabioSooner @Leboyo56 Eh, the soundtrack is still about as boring as the first game's.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

Well maybe not boring since it is unique and creative like the first game's music, but it doesn't really spark any interest when I listen to it. But it's pretty cool how interactive it is at least.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@T3H_1337_N1NJ4 @Leboyo56 

Yeah, it's almost a given Steam will have it on sale first. If I have a choice I instantly try to get console versions, however, since I only really started to play computer games in 2009 or so...when I made my Steam account.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@T3H_1337_N1NJ4 @Leboyo56 Oh derp, I completely forgot this was the Wii U page, and not the PS3 one. I don't have a Wii U, but I do have Steam, which I bought Bit.Trip Runner from.

T3H_1337_N1NJ4
T3H_1337_N1NJ4

@Leboyo56 Nope, am not a subscriber. Was thinking of buying it on the Wii U. Or Steam. The choice will depend on the pricing. Here's to you leaning to the 9.5 side!

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@T3H_1337_N1NJ4 @Leboyo56 If you're a Playstation Plus subscriber like me, the game is discounted at $12, which was a steal considering I love this genre so much. It might be too much for you if you're not a PS+ member, since it's actually $15, but I love it so far and would say that right now I would give it between a score of 9 and 9.5. If it successfully keeps up its fun, happy-go-lucky nature and continuously offers more and more surprising and interesting features throughout its lengthy adventure, I'll probably lean more towards the 9.5 side.

T3H_1337_N1NJ4
T3H_1337_N1NJ4

@Leboyo56@T3H_1337_N1NJ4The moments I really hated in Runner 1 was, for example, when you were given to paths (up with the platforms or down), and when you picked wrong you had to start again (gold left behind!). Seems like I'm getting this one too though then.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@T3H_1337_N1NJ4 @Leboyo56 Runner 2 also has an awesome retro superhero-cartoon vibe to it, complete with an old-style narrator and semi-grainy cutscenes that transition in a way that is reminiscent of a slide-show, which are all used to occasionally hilarious effect. The soundtrack of the six levels I have completed aren't remarkable by any means imo, but I never really liked the music of the first game, either. Sure it sounds nice, and the fact each noise is related to your every action is a great, immersive feature, but it still feels like background music.

T3H_1337_N1NJ4
T3H_1337_N1NJ4

@Leboyo56 @T3H_1337_N1NJ4 How you managed to spend 15 hours on world 3, not complete it, and never get frustrated is an accomplishment that I can only imagine by someone who has achieved nirvana. But okay then, seems like I can enjoy this game more.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@evilweav @T3H_1337_N1NJ4 @Leboyo56

We just added each other as friends, too. I realized that my first reply was practically begging for a flamewar, so I almost decided to edit it, but I really like defending my opinion and seeing the witty remarks of others, so I left it as-is. And voila!

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@T3H_1337_N1NJ4 @Leboyo56 Indeed. While bonus rewards like extra characters and costumes are tied to getting good scores, playing on Rather Hard, skipping checkpoints, etc., they are by no means required to advance. The levels on Normal that I've played so far (actually I've only played Normal on the first level, the rest on Rather Hard) aren't demanding by any means, but there are five worlds with what seems like 15 levels each or something close to that, so the difficulty will most definitely ramp up in later worlds (I still haven't beaten World 3 of Bit.Trip Runner on Normal, and I've spent 15 hours on it). The game is very, very fun and satisfying in my opinion though, and I haven't gotten frustrated yet either.

T3H_1337_N1NJ4
T3H_1337_N1NJ4

@Leboyo56 Holy... Well, there's something I won't have the patience to do for sure if I end up getting the game... But if you do use the checkpoints, you're in for a less maddening ride then?

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@T3H_1337_N1NJ4 @Leboyo56 Yep, the first five levels I've played are longer than the first few levels in the original. And there's still the whole constantly restarting levels if you want to get perfect ratings (requires skipping checkpoints), which I love because of its old-school outrageous-ness. In fact, every trophy in the game is bronze, except the one gold trophy for earning a Triple Perfect+ rating on EVERY LEVEL IN THE GAME. That means playing on the hardest difficulty (Rather Hard), skipping checkpoints, collecting every gold bar, and earning all possible points in a level. Looks like I'm in for an awesome, long ride...

T3H_1337_N1NJ4
T3H_1337_N1NJ4

@Leboyo56 @T3H_1337_N1NJ4 Sure.Specifically, do tell if there's still those really long levels, that you have to start all over again and send you to controller throwing rages. I'm hoping that with the checkpoints that's mitigated, but now they might make levels much bigger and really big stretches between checkpoints...

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@T3H_1337_N1NJ4 @Leboyo56 That's the spirit! And I'm typing on a laptop while I'm starting up Runner 2 for the first time. Care if I update my impressions?

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@T3H_1337_N1NJ4 @Leboyo56 No, my explanations for Super Meat Boy and Dark Souls were perfectly fine of what a player has to memorize to succeed in them. And why does the 'pure' part matter? None of these games are 'purely' memorization like a trial-and-error puzzle, but having a good memory is invaluable when playing them.

 Ugh, I hate flamewars. In fact, I'm going to get off Gamespot and play my newly purchased Runner 2.

T3H_1337_N1NJ4
T3H_1337_N1NJ4

@Leboyo56 Curious how you omitted the "pure" part from the quote.And your explanations of how those games have to do with memorization were dubious at best.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@T3H_1337_N1NJ4 @Leboyo56 

Except you asked "what the hell does Dark Souls and Super Meat Boy have to do with memorization?" and I flatly gave you what they have to do with memorization. Dark Souls may be a wildly different genre than Runner and SMB, but its difficulty is very much so based on how well you can memorize and pay attention to it, just like Runner and SMB.                                                       

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@T3H_1337_N1NJ4 @Leboyo56 You have to memorize how to perfectly jump and avoid obstacles in SMB like in this, especially if you want to get A+ ratings and bandaids, and Dark Souls requires the memorization of class advantages, enemy types and attack patterns, and what weapons/spells are effective against them as well as bosses. Plus you need to deal with where enemies spawn, where checkpoints and shortcuts are, where you died last, etc.

Bit.Trip Presents...Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien More Info

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  • First Released
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    • Xbox 360
    Runner 2 - Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is a rhythm-music, auto-running platformer that is inspired by the Bit.Trip series originally released on Nintendo platforms.
    7.7
    Average Rating146 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Gaijin Games
    Published by:
    Gaijin Games, Aksys Games
    Genre(s):
    Music/Rhythm
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
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