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BIT.TRIP Runner2 Review:
I hope you have quick reflexes, because BIT.TRIP Presents... Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is going to put them to the test as you command CaptainVideo to jump, kick, and dance through levels. Avoid obstacles to reach the end and pick up collectibles to beat your friend's high scores.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward, but that does not mean it is not tricky. You have to be mindful of when to jump, slide, kick, etc., but also of your character's status when you do so. You cannot jump while in the air, which is understandable, but this restriction can be frustrating when you press the button just before your character lands on the ground, thus preventing that jump. Really though, the primary source of frustration for this game is me. I am just not that great at games like this, and even though I know that, I cannot help but try to perfect scores. At least the game is somewhat forgiving with that.
As you would expect, levels have checkpoints you are pulled back to if you mess up. From what I can tell, there is no penalty to using a checkpoint. The only punishment for failure is having to replay at least part of the level, as well as seeing yourself die.
One thing that would have been appreciated, by me at least, is a suicide button; some manual way to pull yourself back to the checkpoint or level start, instead of restarting the level. Restarting the level takes longer than just killing yourself and being pulled back to the beginning anyway, so such a button would save some time.
Speaking of buttons, the game recommends using a controller. I started using my keyboard, but as I have a Logitech F310, I decided to plug it in and compare the two input methods. Simply put, neither is perfect, but for me, I am sticking to the keyboard.
At first my keyboard was not that great because my space bar has a little bit of wobble to it, preventing a clean press. (Like other keyboards I have seen, the button portion is in the center and a metal bar is used to align the key along its length. If I do not strike directly above the actual button, the key will first tip before depressing. That is what I mean by 'preventing a clean press.') Using the controller I do get clean presses, but I noticed a lag between pressing the button and the action. Input lag is not something you want here, so I went back to using the keyboard, but avoided the space bar. I do not know why the controller suffered input lag, but it could be caused by many things and many related to my computer specifically, so do not be afraid to use a controller on your machine.
Using other buttons on the keyboard definitely worked well as they do give me clean presses and I did not notice any input lag.
The graphics are cartoony and work well with the game, soundtrack, and most definitely the introductory narration. Really, you will just want to hear that on your own. Unfortunately there is no anti-aliasing option, and it could use one.
The soundtrack is suitably driving for the game and builds as you play the levels. This is a nice reward for your progression, and as a punishment for when you die.
Altogether, is Runner2 a stand-out title to make the bundle worth getting? If you enjoy games like this or are willing to give them a chance, then yes. I cannot call myself an aficionado of this genre, but Runner2 does appear to me to be a well-designed example of it that is approachable for any gamer. It does have some issues, but really, unless you are a perfectionist, those will not bother you. If you are a perfectionist, you have been warned.