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Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien Review

  • First Released Feb 26, 2013
  • Reviewed Mar 6, 2013
  • PC

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. Though it's possible to surmount the challenges of Runner 2 with the keyboard controls, an Xbox 360 controller is highly recommended as it is a much more natural fit.

CommandGirl Video shows off some retro duds in The Mounting Sadds.
CommandGirl Video shows off some retro duds in The Mounting Sadds.

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.

Boss fights provide neat variants on the core gameplay.
Boss fights provide neat variants on the core gameplay.

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
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Bit.Trip Presents...Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

About the Author

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.
74 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for StonerDemon

Like if PS Plus brought you here.

Avatar image for darksonic140

Anything but Android? Are you fucking kidding me?

Avatar image for obsequies

@darksonic140 and nintendo

Avatar image for PowerDingALing

Ridiculous. I hope (in fact I know) this kind of games keep being the minority, 'cause if don't I'll have to stop playing games. I've played games like this during the 80's and 90's, and I've had enough. Thank's god games evolved, look at what we had today! No reason to play it. It would be acceptable on Android, not videogames or PC.

Avatar image for solatron

@PowerDingALing games like these still in demand for bigger screens such as video consoles / PCs. And I am one of them. You might had enough and you may go and look elsewhere, but not for everyone else.

Avatar image for shreechandel

@PowerDingALing if u don't like these kind of games why bother commenting on the games review page and for your information all people have different taste

Avatar image for Leboyo56

@shreechandel @PowerDingALing He has the right to express his opinion, no matter if its positive or negative.

Avatar image for MamaLukuBuku

All the people bashing the high score this game got need to go look at all the other sites giving it a similar score. For once GS got it right giving this game a 9.0.

A game doesn't have to have a multi million dollar budget and be made by a top game company to be a fantastic game and deserve a high score.

Avatar image for commuter1991

I have a disorder called "Prefect"

Avatar image for madsnakehhh

One of the best games this year...even if it is march, still excellent game.

Avatar image for bokisa303

Once you start playing, you cannot stop. Very addictive!!!

Avatar image for TimeFrame

No thanks.. I'll just load up an emulator if I want to play a platform game.. At least if this is the platform game I get to play..

Avatar image for Leboyo56

@TimeFrame This game is unlike almost any retro classic; you can't really get an emulator to play something like this. Seriously, it's an auto-runner, not a traditional platformer in nearly any sense of the term other than the fact it has a 2d perspective and is a side-scroller.

Avatar image for cjtopspin

@TimeFrame I know right? I'll honestly admit that I don't get it. Has the game functionally changed since the platformers of the 1980's asside from graphical and sound differences?

Avatar image for AenaosMonomaxos

best game of all time

Avatar image for estalling

Appears to be a nostalgia score to me. No accounting for tastes I reckon. Meanwhile, about that 8.5 given to Tomb Raider....

Avatar image for AenaosMonomaxos

@estalling yeah the 8.5 given to Tomb Raider is surely not fair and does not represent the reality.It's obvious that it is overrated.

Avatar image for estalling

@AenaosMonomaxos @estalling I take it you've played all the way through it, then?

Avatar image for hitomo

this game sounds like REZ ... the onkly positive aspect I saw so far

Avatar image for destemido

It's funny that so many people don't understand what reviews are, nor journalism for that matter... no1 approaches you and says "I'm sorry sir, you can't like [insert whatever here] that much. Like it less." Yet, game journalists can't express their views on games without being e-stoned... stop pressing that B button and evolve already!

Avatar image for SKaREO

Same guy who hates TF2 gives this piece of shit game a 9.0 lmao. How do you still have a job here? This web site is a joke.

Avatar image for Atheosis

A 9.0? For this? Rofl...

Avatar image for tyorll

@Atheosis Completely agree.

Yes it may be fun, for a little while. But seriously... giving a title like this a rating higher than most AAA titles is ridiculous. Gamestop has rated this as high as the original XCOM - UFO Defense. That itself is ridiculous. Where will this game be in a couple of weeks? Completely forgotten, unlike XCOM which has spawned numerous sequels/reboots and copies. Runner 2 will a short lived game at best.

Avatar image for lilflipp

@tyorll @Atheosis Your argument is a bit flawed. You use the fact that the game's sequels and reboots as a mean for a higher rating, but you shouldn't rate a game for what sprouted out of it, you can't. When a game comes out and you rate a game, the sequels aren't out yet, so you're rating the game for what it is.

This game is great. I hope you played it long enough or even at all. The feeling is great, and it's one of those games that you leave hanging around, and every now and then you go back and play for a bit, it's so fun and quick to get into it. Great game, hope this game will bring more sequels lol I can see this working.

Avatar image for Leboyo56

@lilflipp It's funny because the first Bit.Trip Runner completely revitalized platformers by introducing the auto-running genre to consoles and most audiences. In fact it is the main reason games like Temple Run, Jetpack Joyride and a near countless amount of indie games like those exist. So really, this game DOES have a legacy.

Avatar image for Rickystickyman

I'm not going to lie: the first game had a nice style because it mixed 8-bit graphics and 3D graphics perfectly. The main character was retro and the rest of the world wasn't. But this game... just looks kind of awkward. Visually the graphics are good but they aren't nearly as appealing. The style doesn't do the first game justice. But that's just me.

Avatar image for pablodavid

@Rickystickyman I miss the original Commander Video too.

Avatar image for archiasif

good audio work

Avatar image for Leboyo56

This game completely blew my expectations out of the water. I gave Bit.Trip Runner an 8/10, and I just knew Runner 2 was going to be better before I purchased it, but I never expected it to be THIS amazing. It is currently my favorite game since Portal 2.

Avatar image for shansss123

will surely try this out!!

Avatar image for chyng85

Thanks for the review~

Avatar image for Thesuperstar2k

I need this game!

Avatar image for Evenphilip7

This game is amazing. I bought it on Steam having never played any of the original Bit.Trip games, and I love it. It starts out easy, but gets difficult over time. For $15, you can't go wrong.

P.S. Don't buy the PC version unless you have a controller, as the game is practically unplayable with the keyboard alone.

Avatar image for GetafixOz

So how many of the 14 people using linux are enjoying this game ?

Avatar image for hadlee73

Its on iOS, so naturally it joins the ever growing "9.0+" club for iOS games reviewed by GS :P It does look fun though so I'll probably give it a go at some stage.

Avatar image for obsequies

man linux has great indies

Avatar image for fbgbdk4

I also don't think it deserves a so high score.

It is not the graphics. It is the fact the you have just one way to play the game in perfect. It is a game better played by computers, or played by humans following a one and only computer script.

Perhaps it is why you match the music. You are just following the game script.

Avatar image for Leboyo56

@fbgbdk4 Platformers aren't exactly known for having the most gameplay freedom.

Avatar image for ruppe84

@Leboyo56 @fbgbdk4

Castlevania,Mario,Megaman,metroid,pugsy,bubsy,older sonics,earthwormjim,zelda2 etc

I could go on a while.

Avatar image for Leboyo56

@ruppe84 @Leboyo56 @fbgbdk4 Why do you think I said auto-runners afterward?

Avatar image for Leboyo56

@fbgbdk4 Especially auto-runners.

Avatar image for logicalfrank

I am excited for this game but not sure I'm ready for another game to put me through the ringer like the first one did. Those last levels get pretty damn tense even on the default difficulty. Maybe I'll play this one through on easy like a chump.

Avatar image for Leboyo56

@logicalfrank This game is considerably easier than the first, it's very noticeable. But it's still pretty hard at times.

Avatar image for Stonecutters908

This is easily the best 2013 release I've played. Got it on Wii-U for the off TV play. It just poops all over the AAA releases we've had so far this year, maybe besides Tomb Raider.

Avatar image for LE5LO

So arguably, the treasure chest levels in Rayman Origins are in debt to Bit.Trip Runner, but it's kind of hard to believe Runner 2 deserves a higher score than the latest Rayman. That game was amazingly good, this just looks like a distilled arcade version, with simpler mechanics, repeated over and over. In fairness to it, the game-play looks tight, and the music syncs well, and you can dance now! 9/10!

Avatar image for white_wind


Avatar image for pinicolaroxa

This guy loves this game

Avatar image for Marsh87

is that Colin Mochrie I hear as the narrator in the game

Avatar image for VincentLAURiA

@Marsh87 Charles Martinet. Voice of Mario.

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

  • First Released Feb 26, 2013
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • Linux
    • + 7 more
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • PlayStation Vita
    • Wii U
    • 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.
    Average Rating162 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Bit.Trip Presents...Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
    Developed by:
    Gaijin Games
    Published by:
    Gaijin Games, Aksys Games, Limited Run Games, Pikii Godo Kaisha
    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.
    Crude Humor