I’d like to officially welcome Binerexis to T3 as our fourth writer. Binerexis joins us from “across the pond,” though nobody will tell me where the pond is or if the woman who abandoned me at birth is there. Please welcome him to T3 with the force of a thousand children crying themselves to sleep. ~WiNG
First of all, let’s get introductions out of the way. My name is Binerexis, I live in England, I’ve been playing video games for sixteen years solid and I’ve never embarked on something as pants-crappingly exciting/terrifying as writing for T3 before* so you may have to bear with some whimpering every now and then. With that out of the way…
No doubt a lot of you have been keeping an eye on the Steam Store recently. As usual, there have been huge savings available from the 24th-29th and boy have people been taking advantage of it, especially with the Indie Bundle of the day: a collection of five games with a collective value of around £40 reduced to £4. Not to mention that thirty people will be chosen at random to get the top five games on their wish lists for absolutely nothing. Fuckin’ A. What I’m going to be doing is giving a quick run-down of the games I bought during this limited promotion. If you like what you hear, buy the game and support independent developers!**
BIT.TRIP BEAT is a rhythm game which really doesn’t give away that much about itself. The store description is of no help in regards to what the game looks like, but the trailer shows it off as being a kind of trippy, one-sided pong game set to a funky soundtrack. This level of intrigue plus the low price tag prompted an immediate “Screw it, why not?” response, with £3.49 promptly being removed from my bank account.
It installed pretty much instantly (a welcome bonus) so I didn’t waste any time in jumping straight in…
Gameplay in BIT.TRIP BEAT is basic, but rewarding. You are a pong paddle on the left of the screen and small blocks come from the right of the screen; you get points for every block you hit, with combos for consecutive bounces, etc. Every time you hit a block, the game plays a nice little chipset noise. When the block bounces off the right hand side of the screen, more sounds play, making for some nice little tunes when combined with the background music. Once you’ve racked up a certain number of points, the background music adds another track and the blocks make 16-bit noises rather than 8-bit noises. As things ramp up, the music goes from sounding calm and pleasant to really getting you in the zone.
If, however, you cock everything up, the game reverts to Atari 2600 era graphics and sounds until you improve. This is probably one of the best incentives I’ve seen in a game to get a high score: Do well or get ear raped.
That said, there’s one more thing that needs mentioning:
This game is damn hard.
BIT.TRIP BEAT knows you’ve played games like Audiosurf and DDR and it does not fuck around. One second, all you’re doing is bouncing a few pixels back and yeah, it’s pretty easy… but then it shoots two at a time, one high one low. Okay, that’s fair enough, I just need to move quickly from one end of the screen to the other and hit the pixel back, no probl- why did that bounce? All the other pixels just bounced back to where they came from; why did that one bounce up my paddle and go behind me? Never mind, I’ll know it’ll do that next time now. Wait, why are those purple ones spiralling all over the place? I’m supposed to hit all of them back?! AND it’s throwing five bouncing ones at once at me?! Why did those fellows explode?!
Why is everything in black and white now?!
Do you know how long I lasted? 26 minutes, which is basically the first level and maybe a quarter of the second level. In that time, BIT.TRIP BEAT completely seduced me with its quirky pixelated graphics before bending me over and using me as a coffee table. The scary thing is I still found the experience enjoyable. It’s like giving in to the hot closet dominatrix who lives down the hallway; you’ll spend an enjoyable night with a beautiful woman, but you’re never sure if you’ll be able to look at Barney the Dinosaur in the same way ever again.
BIT.TRIP BEAT is certainly worth the money. The visuals, although basic, are gorgeous and the music is a joy, especially if you get lucky enough kick enough ass to consistently advance the combo meter. If the Steam sale is still on for whatever reason when you read this, grab it now. You won’t be disappointed.
Questions? Flame posts? Confessions of love? Use the comment section below!
*This is from someone who paid to be blasted into the air at 120mph and fall ten feet straight down
**Or gamble on the fact that they may go on sale again. But you can never really tell what will or will not be on sale at any one time.†
†If you possess this ability, please contact me immediately. ~WiNG