While the game doesn't really tell you a story, it does at the same time. One must look at the series as a whole to figure out the story of RUNNER. As I mentioned before, this game, like the other Bit.Trip games, are chapters of a story about a man's life, in this case CommanderVideo. From what I've seen, these is like CommanderVideo's golden time, he's making friends and helping people out. Still, there really isn't much of a story in the small scale besides the Commander taking down baddies in slowly decaying city and finding a new love interest. I don't think that this detracts from the game too much anyways. The other games had the same minuscule style of story, but what's important is that as a whole they all tell a story. Therefore, I can't really score the story for this game alone, but what it does is great.
Let's move on to the heart of the game, the gameplay. Solid gameplay is important in any game, and RUNNER has it. This time we find our hero, CommanderVideo platforming his way through three zones. Also, you actually play as the Commander this time, making this one of the only two games you do this in, and being the first one. Within the context of the game and the game play, this is a smart move. I don't know how they could of done it without having you play as our hero.
Anyways, as I mentioned before, the name of the game is a platforming this time around. You take control of CommanderVideo as he runs through three zones full of enemies and obstacles trying to stop him. The entire time the Commander is running forward, so it's like the flash game Canabalt. What you the play does is "action commands" as in jumping, sliding, blocking, and using springs. Very simple concept, just like past games. The catch is you're doing it to a set rhythm, which you add to by performing these actions. Oh and the game is hard. Like really hard. There are many times that I've found myself throwing my controller out of rage because of some of the parts of the game. It's possible to beat, but it's very hard. I think it's difficult because timing is everything in this rhythm game. There are times when the game throws in a spike of difficulty, best example is 1-11 because it just becomes extremely hard.
The game is broken down into three zones, much like the other games of the series. Each zone houses twelve levels, this is including a boss level. And within each level, no including boss levels, there is two levels. It's kind of like there's a box within a box. Let me explain a little bit more. In each of the eleven normal levels, there are gold bars for you to collect. Upon collecting all of the gold bars, you enter into something called a "Retro Challenge" which is much harder then the normal level and has more gold bars for you to collect. If you manage to collect all of the gold bars, as well as earn all the points in the normal level, you get a perfect score. Let me remind you, this is hard to do. Heck, I've only done it twice. But, overall this adds a ton of levels to play and will keep you coming back to the game for a while to come.
The only real beef I have with this game, besides spikes in difficulty and something I'll mention later, is the controls sometimes. Granted, in a game like this you need controls that are easy to use and react as soon as you press the button. But, that doesn't mean I want to block when I'm hold down on the D-Pad. Some times the D-Pad thinks you're pressing a different direction on it then you really are and you might just end up failing because of that. Now, this isn't the biggest problem in the world because it doesn't happen all the time, but it does happen.
Boss levels are fun too. They are about as hard as the rest of the game, not the parts that like to spike. By the time you face the boss, you're well prepared for it. It may take you a few tries to get it down, but that's kind of expected. The thing is, the final boss is a total let down. I don't really want to spoil anything, but compared to the other two bosses, it might as well be just another level. That's what it really feels like. It's fun, don't get me wrong, but it's a let down and is pretty anti-climatic.
All I have to say is one word about the graphics. Wow. Taking old-school, 8-bit style graphics and mixing it with a modern style is what the guys at Gaijin Games does best. Now, I've enjoyed the graphics of all the games in the series, but this one is amazing to look at. Heck, I can't tell you how many times I died because I was busy looking at that was going on in the background of the game. Each of the zones has their own feel: mines or a moon, a forest, and a decaying city. Everything in each of the zones makes it feel alive in a way. For example, in the second zone, just about everything has eyes, and I mean everything. Trees, giant fish, clouds, boxes, just about everything. The game is also every colorful. Nice use of bright colors, and not so bright ones, when needed to give the feel for the zones. The cut scenes, what few there are of them, also look great. They are well done and help tell what little story there is in the game.
If there's one thing that's always impressive about the Bit.Trip games, for me at least, is the music. Oh man, the chiptune sounds in this game are amazing and they'd have to be because the game is really based around the music. It is a rhythm game after all. The songs give each zone their own feel, they really go hand-in-hand with the graphics and help set the mood of the game. Each tune may start off low in vibes, but as you play through the levels, they grow and become more alive when you start to go up in multiplier. Probably my favorite tune is the boss tune simply because it has sort of a backbone drive to it that I get myself caught up in. I should also mention that the guest artist this time around, Anamanaguchi, does a superb job on the title and credit tracks. Also, the one line of voice acting really says it all in this game and is a great addition at the very end.
Overall, Bit.Trip RUNNER is a great addition to the Bit.Trip series. Though it's not my absolute favorite, and it's difficulty could in fact turn off many gamers (I know I was almost in that boat for a while), it is just one of those games that you really need to play. The price jump, the previous games were only 600 Wii Points and this one is 800 Wii Points, is well worth it with as many levels as this game has. Truthfully, to actually beat this game it'll take a lot out of you, so don't think you're done once you beat the final boss. Simply put, this is a great game.