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Gaijin Games |  Nov 2nd, 2010

What do you get when you take the simplicity of Pong, a game that involves hitting small square “balls” with a rectangular paddle, and add in some musical aspects, a bit of plot, and ramp up the play mechanics beyond a 2 player game of tennis?  Whatever it would be, it’s probably pretty close to BIT.TRIP BEAT. Ok, really the only thing they really share in common is hitting balls with paddles and retro styling. The general premise here is that you must deflect a series of rhythmic balls back with your paddle.  They are more or less in time with the beat making this a bit of a Rhythm game, though not really in the traditional, Dance Dance Revolution/Guitar Hero sense.  It’s not as straight forward as it seems either.  You’ll start out with straight flying balls in a regular fashion but the game quickly becomes more complex with balls that stop or fly in series and move at angles striking just off from one another.  It can get pretty complex at times.

As you deflect more you build up a larger multiplier for your score.  You also change from various modes depending on how well you’re doing, which actually ramps up the difficulty some.  If you continue to do well, you’ll go from all of the balls producing melodic notes and producing flashing sparks down to a very bleak near death black screen with white dots, no background music and only simple beeping to signify that you’ve hit anything.  Miss too much in this basic distraction free mode, and it’s Game Over. It’s generally a fun game, you’ve gotta be quick and the chip tune style music is well mixed.  It’s a bit short unfortunately.  There’s only a few stages and songs to play though each song is pretty long and consists of several “stages” in itself.  The recent Valve Potato Themed ARG added a nice Glados themed tune in addition to the original songs.

There’s even some bosses.  These bosses are large blocks of balls which come out and shoot parts of themselves at you.  There’s a bit of a benefit here because the ball color tends to correspond to how it acts and knowing what a boss is made from can help anticipate how to react.  For example, the boss pictured here has simple yellow straight shooting balls but it also has a lot of the orange “bounce” balls which require being juggled for 3 or 4 hops before they leave the area. The simple graphics are charmingly well done as well, though when things start to explode or the background gets a little bright it can make the game difficult to keep track of.  This is part of the game’s difficulty though there are times when it feels like kind of a cheap shot at artificially increasing the difficulty. So in summary, BIT.TRIP BEAT is a decent musical retro styled game that should appeal to fans of twitch style rhythm based gameplay.  It could stand to be a bit longer but it’s a pretty solid and well made game otherwise.

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