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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
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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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Avatar image for ChocolateAddict

Is this a joke? Not even a full 3D game? A step down from the previous game and yet you need 2 million in advance? This is just BS.

Avatar image for ggregd

@ChocolateAddict Make up your mind...

Avatar image for lilflipp

@ggregd @ChocolateAddict It's not in 3D! MOOOMMM I WANTED IT IN 3D YOU STUPID B**ch!!!! THIS GAME SUCKS

Avatar image for ChocolateAddict

looks very interesting

Avatar image for deactivated-5b59688fc6492

Really?? ANOTHER 2D platformer tops the charts again? Gamespot has been obsessed with those lately. This 2D 'slideshow' wouldn't even register on my GPU. I mean, I get that GS is trying to keep things diverse, but it's becoming a pattern now. It's just that something about this 2D sprite collection getting a 9 is bugging me.

Even a dumb shooter like Crysis 3, just based on it's awesome graphics, shouldn't be topped by any 2D slideshow, no matter how creative the slideshow is. I'm saying, if Crysis 3 doesn't deserve a 9, this slideshow definitely doesn't deserve it. I know that considering this game in vacuum, it may seem very creative and alot of fun to play, but at the same time there should be some basic standards relative to other modern games, some baseline.

Playing this game looks as interesting as trying to use a 8-inch floppy disk in a modern PC. It doesn't sound like much fun... And if I ever considered playing a modern "Super Mario meats Supersonic" type of game, it would be on a handheld or console, not PC.

p.s. It hardly even qualifies as a 2D platformer. It's actually mostly 1D because it's moving in a single direction, mostly in a straight line (except when you have to press the jump)

Avatar image for zilcher

@mishdogg 1D ? Do you understand what 2D is? Height and width. He also jumps, therefore 2D.

Avatar image for Stonecutters908

@mishdogg Wow, they should put you in the Zoo. You're everything that's messing up the industry wrapped up in one person and the way you shamelessly out yourself is just amazing.

Avatar image for Sefrix

@mishdogg To sum up for you: "I don't really care for this kind of game. I'm glad to hear that there are people who really enjoy it but it's just not for me. I'd personally prefer a game like Crisis over this, but that's just me."

It's amazing how much better it sounds when you only speak for yourself. In the end, that's all you represent anyway. Sorry to hear this game isn't for you, I hope there are others (I'm sure there are) that you are enjoying instead of this one.

Avatar image for labub_007

@mishdogg kill yourself!!

Avatar image for ruudboy5

@mishdogg I'm embarrassed for you

Avatar image for adam1808

@ruudboy5 @mishdogg likewise

Avatar image for TheJazzGiant

@mishdogg are you seriously comparing this to a game like crysis? you have to rate a game based on what it intends to be, and this game seems to have accomplished that. and i don't think you understand what a dimension is, 1D is a strait line and nothing more and doesn't have anyting to do with what way your character can do... this game has 3d objects from a 2d perspective

Avatar image for Naylord

@mishdogg Yes I agree; It's also stupid how movies like Citizen Kane are considered all time classics when they aren't even in HD, widescreen or COLOUR! I mean hello! It's the 21st century and every movie should use a lot of high budget CGI and special effects or it's terrible.
Luckily people understand quality better than "critics" do and that's why masterpieces of film making like Avatar earn the most money.

Avatar image for WithoutGraceXII

"...creating a premature release of the tension that's been building..."

Well if there's one thing I'm good at it's premature release. Guess I should buy this game.

Avatar image for LE5LO

@WithoutGraceXII This game clearly needs its own nasal spray.

Avatar image for SamehH99

Looks great. Too bad I don't have any time or money to play games. I think I should kill myself.

Avatar image for Soundaholic92

I own a PC and a 3DS, and this thing is released for X360, PS3, WIIU, VITA, IP, MAC and UNIX. I believe now is an appropriate time to smash my head on the keyboard

Avatar image for smicheal75

@Soundaholic92 i do not know why PC is not listed as one of the platforms, but there is a PC version, i just checked steam



Avatar image for MonkeyKinght98

@smicheal75 It's not listed because this review was posted to the PC page. It's doesn't show the name of the platform page that you are on.

Avatar image for thereal-15-cent

Unique, won't sell a huge amount, kind of an "art" game.... It will probably beat GTA 5 for Gamestop's GoTY.

Avatar image for Leboyo56

@thereal-15-cent Except that GTAIV got a 10 by Gamespot, so...

Avatar image for thereal-15-cent

@Leboyo56 @thereal-15-cent True, but it still didn't win their GoTY award. That isn't my point though, I'm not accusing Gamespot of being biased against GTA. My point is that they waste the GoTY award on short, unusual games, just to prove a point about "games being art". I mean... Journey over Halo 4, Dishonored and Far Cry 3? Give me a break.

Avatar image for Leboyo56

@thereal-15-cent @Leboyo56 Hey, Journey deserved GOTY in my opinion. And Runner 2 is so far my favorite game of 2013, and is also one of my favorite games overall now. You should note that Gamespot didn't give this game the 'Unique' merit, either. Auto-runners have been around for some time, Runner 2 just happens to be the best by far.

Avatar image for Frostbite24

Everyone should experience this gem of a game.

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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 Rating163 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