This is Part II of a two part review of the BIT.TRIP.SAGA game by Gaijin Games for the Nintendo 3DS. Part I of the review can be read here, which covered the first three games in the series, BEAT, CORE and VOID, while this review will cover RUNNER, FATE and FLUX.
My review of RUNNER will be solely from the perspective of the 3DS game and not comparing it to the PC or Wii edition. I will mention, however, that I was a little bit weary about purchasing BIT.TRIP.SAGA because of some negative reviews on Amazon.com about lagging in RUNNER and comparing to how it played against both the Wii and PC versions. I will say that I have not experienced any lag or skipping frame rates in either 3D or 2D mode. I typically play with the 3D slider set at about 75% of the way up, unless I'm too distracted by all the bits and debris flying at the screen and then I'll turn in either down or off. I will also add that when first playing this on the PC, I felt that it would be an amazing experience on the 3DS and I feel that I was very much right.
All that aside, RUNNER is a great game with an amazing soundtrack. The game plays like a rail-platformer set to music. Whenever you miss a jump, run into a wall, get hit by flying beats or fall down a pit, you don't die, the music doesn't stop, you just get flung back to the beginning of the level, all with the music continuously playing. One might find this to be tedious, having to start over because you were hit by a stray beat, but for me, I feel motivated to play more to hear the music increase in complexity.
Like any platformer, some levels are harder and/or longer than others and there are times when I feel too frustrated and have to switch to another game or just shut the 3DS completely, but that doesn't happen very much.
FATE plays like another throw back to older shooter arcade-style games like Gradius or 1942. The big difference, is that while it is a rail-shooter, it's more of a double rail shooter. You're propelled through the level, but you're also attached to a track, all the while shooting enemies and obstacles earning points and replenishing health.
This game is played with a combination of the joystick, moving back and forth along the track and the stylus, which is what you use to aim your rapid-fire projectiles at anything that might be combustible on screen. When not shooting, you're able to move a lot faster along the track, which I really only did to grab a power up that was floating away.
The music in FATE I probably noticed the least of all the games. It's not that so much that I didn't enjoy or that didn't pick up on it, more like I was as aware of how the game play was affecting the music.
Like all the other games though, FATE is an exceedingly challenging game and again, like all the other games, I seem to have hit a very hard, tall wall with the second stage. Is it impossible? No, but it's going to take a lot of playing to figure it out and make my way through to another fun/frustrating boss fight.
FATE, the last game in the BIT.TRIP series is a throwback to the first game, BEAT. It's a pong-style game, but the paddle is on the right hand side of the screen. Other than that, the game plays pretty much the same as BEAT. But, there are some little differences.
The first difference, is that like RUNNER and unlike BEAT, you have unlimited lives. You can mess up as many times and not make it out of the Nether and you'll have to start the level from the beginning or from your last checkpoint. On some level this is a nice bonus, but in some ways, I get tired of constantly messing up in a specific area and just wish the game would tell me by way of a "Game Over" that I need to play something else for a bit.
The second difference is that the beats you hit back don't make any noise or build upon the music until after they hit the left side of the screen. This can be a little bit distracting as it almost feels like a lag, but because that's the way this game is designed, it's only disorienting for the first couple of beats during the beginning, when the song is just starting.
The third difference is that the beats like to play with you. A series of them will come flying towards you, then about two-thirds of the way across the screen, they will start spiraling, fracture and you'll have to hit them, alternating between top and bottom of the screen. It's crazy times like this that the beats seem to be random, but there is always a pattern and it's just something you have to learn or follow Peppy and just trust your instincts.
In conclusion, yes, these are pretty difficult games. Have you tried playing Mega Man 2 or Ninja Gaiden? Those aren't easy games (but they do look easy if you watch No Hit Speed Runs), but they're still a lot of fun to play, and that's exactly what Gaijin Games and Aksys Games have put together here. Here you have six great games that play very well on the 3DS, with great, sometime subtle, sometimes distracting 3D effects, but that's all part of the experience. If you could power through all six games in 3 hours, where would the fun be? I've spent just over seven hours and am on the second stage in each game and while I've hit the aforementioned wall, the difficulty won't keep me from trying to find a way to climb, dig or smash my way through to the next massive wall.
I Can Almost See What I'm Fighting For