Bit.Trip Presents…Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien Review
The original Bit.Trip Runner was simple yet elegant. Guiding Commander Video through landscapes far and wide, all the player had to do was follow the beat and keep on running. But how does one make a sequel to something like that? Gaijin Games’ Runner 2 has finally answered that question: by taking the original concept and running with it – so to speak.
Back on the scene after a three-year hiatus, Bit.Trip Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (Runner 2) adds a number of new features to the original platformer-rhythm hybrid. By following the beat, the never-ending jog of our hero Commander Video requires perfection of both the landscape and the beat of the world. Those who have played the original can easily coast through the first world with relative ease, but those who have yet to cut their teeth on the series need not worry. A gradual learning curve and infinite lives make learning the ropes a breeze.
New players also have a huge advantage in Runner 2 with the addition of checkpoints. The days of replaying the entire level without a single mistake have been rectified with stops now available in nearly every level. It’s true that these (optional) checkpoints help Runner 2 feel more fair than its predecessor, but the title is far from a cakewalk. The emphasis on perfection is still alive and well here, making even the slightest advantage a godsend.
But that’s the joy of Runner 2 — there is always a challenge to face, and the new leaderboard system for each level proves this. Not only does it compare you to the rest of the world, it also compares you to your bumper crop of friends. Granted, your mileage may vary depending on how many of your friends play the title, but the dangling carrot of becoming number one is a tantalizing one that will keep completionists busy far after every level has been cleared.
The only problem with Runner 2 is that it is a refinement rather than a revolution. Despite a much larger budget and a radical shift from blocky pixels to (mostly) detailed 3D landscapes, the same tried-and-true gameplay still remains. Obstacles like loop-de-loops add some flavor, but there is nothing that truly changes the established underpinnings of the original. This is definitely comforting for those who want more of the same, but those looking for something completely different best look at one of Commander Video’s other adventures in the original Bit.Trip series.
Runner 2 is essentially a re-imagined version of the original. Improving on everything from the graphics to the ever-important soundtrack, it is a fully-realized version of an indie classic. Commander Video has finally evolved in this fully realized sequel to the indie classic.