By: Casey Curran
Typically, auto-run platformers are the kind of game I only play on my iPhone. The subgenre normally lacks the depth of a normal 2D platformer, so it is only really fun in short bursts to pass the time. Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, however, is the exception as it takes the formula and gives it a wealth of options only available with a large variety of buttons.
In the first two worlds, Runner2 is always introducing new control options. It starts with just jumping, then blocking, attacking, sliding, slide jumping, and a plethora of other options soon come up to add more variety. Each of these work against a specific enemy or obstacle, and the game does a good job of making you use everything the whole way through.
The controls work well for the most part, but later on the gameplay requires so much precision that any small issue or imprecision can seriously hurt. The controls are almost polished enough to work all the time, but in those rare instances where there’s a hiccup are very noticeable.
In terms of graphical prowess, Runner2 is just above average for a downloadable game. Thanks to its excellent use of vibrant colors, however, the game looks fantastic, so it is very easy to look past how basic it is technically. Enemy and hazard designs are also fun and charming, adding a lot to the game.
Music is fantastic. I would definitely recommend you play this game with headphones every time. Each action you make or item you collect has its own sound effect, which complements the music perfectly. This means that the more items you collect, the more complete the music sounds, which is a reward in and of itself for succeeding in gameplay.
Word of warning: Runner2 is hard. Expect to fail a lot, replaying the same level, especially in the later stages. Yet more importantly, the game makes sure that no matter how many times you fail, you always want to try again. The game instantly takes you back to the last checkpoint, but even when moving a far way back you can almost always see what you did wrong and just want to try one more time to try to get past that particularly nasty hazard.
I say almost because like I said before, there is the rare control hiccup. For the most part, however, when you fail in Runner2, it will be your fault, which helps the game stay addicting the whole time. The game also offers so many options that remembering what to react with on the spot provides just as much of a challenge as getting the timing right with the reaction.
Where the game is really addicting, however, is with its collectables. There is gold scattered across the entire game, providing a certain number of points and allowing a bonus if you collect them all. Point multipliers are also available to collect as well as a few secret collectables that can get you to new 8-bit inspired levels.
These collectables are so addicting that I found it near impossible to beat a level without getting everything. Not just because gold is used to buy optional levels, but the musical cues they provide make the game sound wrong if they do not chime. Getting a high score is a draw too, especially once the dance option is available and the game will make it always feel like you could get a few more points.
Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien will drive you nuts, but for all the right reasons. It blends its music fantastically with its gameplay creating a game that rewards the player’s ears for succeeding. Combine this with a fun visual art style, and Runner2 excels in the gameplay, visual, and audio departments.