BIT.TRIP Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien review
What Runner2 Got Right
+ Simple mechanics that just work
+ Great visuals that really pop
+ Unlike any other puzzle game, ever
+ Tonnes of extras to discover
What Runner2 Got Wrong
– Backtracking can be a little annoying
When Gaijin Games launched the BIT.TRIP series on Nintendo’s WiiWare service all those years ago, who would have thought their particular brand of retro gameplay would become a cultural hit. Spawning six games across multiple platforms, including mobile devices, Gaijin have returned with Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien. Dropping the pixel art style for something with a little more substance, can they pull it off again and win another marathon, or will they be left panting at the first mile marker?
Runner2 is exactly what you would expect from the BIT.TRIP heritage; an unforgiving, stage-based runner that has players jumping, sliding, blocking and dancing throughout a multitude of highly detailed levels. The difficulty curve is absolutely perfect with the first world acting a tutorial of sorts, slowly introducing each new mechanic and giving you a chance to test them out in the wild.
Things really ramp up after the first world, however, almost to a point where you will often throw your controller in frustration as you failed to slide, jump and block through a particularly tricky section. It becomes an exercise in memorising where the enemies are places, how to avoid the obstacles and make your way to the end of the stage.
Many of the levels have two viable paths to explore. The easy path just takes you to the end of the level without any bonuses, yet the hard path will often lead to locked sections which harbour hidden “retro zones” and costumes.
These locked areas present one of the few issues I found with the game – backtracking. In order to find the key to unlock the paths, you need to have finished the level at least once. Then you need to playthrough it again to grab the key, and then head up the locked path to grab your special items. It’s not game-breaking, but it can often feel like a chore, especially when you go through all the trouble to discover that a particular locked path doesn’t harbour any exciting goodies.
Another new feature making its way into Runner2 are checkpoints, which were frustratingly missing from the original game. Those who prefer a hardcore challenge can simply jump over the checkpoint without triggering it, which activates a nice score boost which will surely see you rise in the leaderboards.
The most noticeable change from the original game, however, comes through the art style. First impressions left me with feeling of LittleBigPlanet meets Adventure Time, and while I’m sure a number of Runner purists out there will miss the lo-fi graphics, I personally loved the new style. It runs silky smooth on all the consoles, while still maintaining a little flash that makes it pop from your screen of choice.
Completionists out there will find Runner2 is packed with awesome characters and accessories for each one, hidden levels, tonnes of gold bars to collect and 25 “retro zones” to find and complete. There’s certainly enough content in here to keep you busy for quite some time.
Runner2 is a fantastic sequel that takes all the good parts from the original, tweaks them and throws in a new art style to create something that is familiar, yet different enough to offer fans a reason to come back. If you’re after a fun yet sometimes frustrating game, and you don’t mind backtracking for those hidden zones and costumes, Runner2 is well worth your time and money.