I was born too late to enjoy the atari era of games. I’ve played some of those classics decades later but it’s not the same. Most will think that it’s not such a big deal since that era almost killed the whole videogame scene back in 1983, but I think there’s a certain charm to those old games. Things were way simpler back then, games with no story and very little visual flair but a gameplay that manages to hook you and encourage you to keep playing for a better score.
During my time with the bit.trip I was reminded of those atari games of the 80’s. Let’s see why.
The Bit.Trip (I hate to do the dot thing) is a collection of six Bit.Trip games. What are those like? They’re arcade-style mini games of various genres with a bit of a relish for rythm-based gameplay and some motion controls sprinkled into the mix. Those mini games have quite simple concepts yet they’re incredibly difficult to master.
But each game is different so I think I should explain them separately.
The first one is called Beat. Think of it as a single player version of Pong played with the gyroscope. The game will throw at you colored squares with different trajectories and speeds and you’ll have to tilt the paddle to bounce them away. As you miss some of those square-things, your nether meter builds up, keep screwing up and you’ll get into that monochrome mode, then you have a small window to correct yourself by chaining some succesful hits but if you don’t, it’s game over. That mechanic is actually present most of the games of the collection. I really liked beat, the game is simple but addicting just what I expected from the collection. I just wished that the vita gyroscope were a little more precise.
Core is the second game on the bit.trip and I could define it as a rythm game dressed as a shooter. You’ll have more square flying at you from 4 directions and you’ll have to shoot them down, intercepting them as they fly across the axis of the screen. I found this minigame to be quite hard honestly, the trick is to look up with which pixels came first in what direction in order to time it correctly but that’s easier said than done. This is probably one of the games I enjoyed the least though because of how unforgiving it is.
The next game would be Void. Here you’re controlling some sort of black hole that devours black squares and has to avoid the white ones. As you suck that black matter your black thing grows thus making it harder for you to evade the white ones until it’s too big and then you chicken out and pop it small again. This was probably my favourite game on the whole bit.trip. It’s simple and challenging but lots of fun.
Then comes Runner, the most “famous” game of the collection. Your character runs automatically through a scrolling level and you have to precisely avoid any obstacles in your way. Jumping platforms, sliding under stuff, breaking barriers… fail once and you’ll be pushed to the start of the level. The game gets hard pretty quickly but it’s a fair challenge so it’s still pretty fun. Controls are as tight as they can get and it has to be also noted that this is the most detailed game in the collection visually but that’s not hard since up until now we’ve only seen squares of different colors and sizes.
Fate could be called an on-rails twin-stick shoot em up. You traverse the level through a literal rail, but even though the screen is ever scrolling you can go forward and backward as you shoot the enemies from the curvy rail and you can use those curves to your advantage to avoid incoming shots and such. At the end of each level you’ll encounter a boss fights and those I found the best parts of the game. There are also power-ups that pay homage to other games which is pretty cool. As for the game as a whole, it feels a little underwhelming with very little enemy variety and the shooting itself just doesn’t feel quite right.
The last game of the bunch is called Flux. I see why they’d want to put this one as far from beat as possible since this one is pretty much a mirrored version of that other game. In this case the squares come from the right side of the screen and in other patterns but the core of the game is just the same. I still found it very fun but it’s a shame that in a collection of 6 games, two of them are basically the same.
Things I liked
- Stylish: Judging by some screenshots the games might be mistaken to be taken straight out of an atari 2600 but that doesn’t feel quite true when you’re playing through them yourself. Even though it’s pixelated, the effects, the music in synch with the action… it all makes up for a much enticing presentation than what it looks at first.
- Addictive gameplay: These games were designed so every time you fail you will want to hit the restart button and try harder this time around and they succeed at that most of the time. Props at the developers specially for the whole nether mechanic, which is just spot on.
Things I didn’t
- Mixed bag: The games are varied so that means that you’ll sure like some more than others. In my case, some that I loved and others that I tried and then abandoned completely.
Who’d like this?
If you’re an arcade game junkie you definitely should try these games, I’m sure you’ll find some that will hook you. Have in mind though that not all of the games are equally great.