Poetry in Motion

We bought BIT.TRIP Complete when it came out and we've voluntarily relegated ourselves to the naughty step for not telling the TGAM Massive all about it. 

For those of you unawares, BIT.TRIP was a series of six Wiiware, PC and devices-beginning-with-a-little-i games that came out from 2009 until 2011. They got good reviews but we weren't tempted to take the gamble. Plus, downloading new Wiiware is preluded by an hour long mini game called "Try to micro manage the selection of Wii games and channels you want with the tiny amount of space the Wii hardrive has" which is not intuitive, slow as fuck and all-round frustrating. However, the gods of gaming have smiled upon us by using divine intervention to convince the publishers of BIT.TRIP to release all six games and a soundtrack as a boxed Wii game. It will never sell huge amounts. Despite being multi-platform the brand is not well known and you'd be hard pressed to know what the games are about from the box art or screenshots without getting elbow deep into some reviews. But it does mean that we bought it (for a mere £15 new!) and it breaks our hearts to see it already slashed to half price. Buy it, we emplore you. 

The compilation has all six games in their entirety and comes with some extra tidbits; galleries, trailers, behind the scenes stuff and online leaderboards. We're trying to eek out the most from this compilation  by playing the games to completion in order. A rule we already broke by playing BIT.TRIP RUNNER before we'd finished BIT.TRIP BEAT. Both of which are excellent. 

BIT.TRIP BEAT is essentially scrolling Pong but with colours, music and balls that do crazy things. The aim is to stop the beats from crossing the left hand side of the screen by batting them away. It starts off relatively slowly but soon gets crazy and your brain has to enter "the zone" or fail. Hit enough beats without missing one and the audio ramps up, miss too many beats and you're kicked back down to normal mode, miss more and you have to play it in monochrome with paltry blips when you hit a beat. Keep missing them and it is game over. Start again. 

BIT.TRIP RUNNER is a game where the series' protagonist Commander Video runs along and you have to jump, slide, kick and block your way to the end of each level. Again, sounds simple but before the end of Zone One you're pulling off impossible feats of hand eye co-ordination that, when you succeed, force feeds endorphins to your brain to the point of trouser mess. Hit an obstacle or miss jump and you're sent right back to the beginning of the level. This could be frustrating except it is instantaneous from all singing al dancing right back to the beginning. A brilliant design decision that makes the game and eats hours of your life. Audio is also core to Runner as sound effects and the soundtrack match the on screen action perfectly. Collecting pink crossy things adds layers to the music, hit an obstacle and its back to the basic beats. It is undoubtedly tough but at the same time brilliant. One of the challenges is impossible to beat if you're thinking about it. You have to shut off the concious part of your brain and let the hands and eyes guide you. We concentrated so hard we burst blood vessels in our eye and spent the next day wearing an eye patch. No jokes guys we're super serial here. See here for one of the challenges. 

We haven't tried the other four games yet but it doesn't matter BEAT and RUNNER alone are worth the price tag. This is gaming that is putting a smile back on our conjoined face and considering that they're linear,2D and graphically retro they're surprisingly refreshing and give a greater sense of freedom than 3D lavish Wallpaper shooters seem to offer up these days.

On a retro beat, we also 100% New Super Mario Brothers Wii. Look we took a screenshot just to prove it to the ether. NSMB was one of those odd points in our game playing career when we put the game down for a long time, picked it up again and got a lot out of it. We found the post-credit game to be amazing and once again we're reminded that Nintendo does a lot of work to make the game look simple but is a devil with the detail of the design. In the first World you can visit Peach Castle and spend those Star Coins (there's nothing else to spend them on) on various hint movies. It's essentially a GAMEfaq within the game. In addition to hint movies showing you the location of secret exits and the more elusive star coins you can also buy 'Super Skills' videos. I imagine most players just wouldn't bother, we didn't until we'd 100% everything but viewing these at the eleventh hour of the game made us realise we've been playing NSMB all wrong all along.

   

Looks simple right? It's impossible for mere mortals to judge virtually everyone single one of those jumps let alone all of them in one video. There's a whole bunch of super skills videos and they made us wonder hard. Like, furrowed brow, fist under chin wonder. Are the levels designed and laid out deliberately with these kinds of skilled runs in mind or is it just a bunch of bored people at the Super Mario Club that come up with these in their lunch break? It seems that every koopa and every goomba has been purposefully placed exactly so for the less than 1% of players who can see through the code. We'd like to think they are made by real players and not procedurally generated. Especially this one, that one makes us sick to all four of our  stomachs and we hope that there are 14,000 failed videos attempting that run on the cutting room floor somewhere. 

So there we have it. Retro Old skool is the new black. No pressing X to win here compadres. Or A. Poor right buffer, never gets pressed to win.

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