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BIT.TRIP SAGA Review

April 28th, 2012 by

Allow me to save you some time. If you own a Nintendo 3DS, go and buy this game.

Should you require a little more convincing then please read on.

The BIT.TRIP series first found its home on the Nintendo Wii through the Wii Ware downloadable service. Each of the six games were released individually and since then has been released on a compilation known as BIT.TRIP COMPLETE. This compilation has now made its way onto the Nintendo 3DS under the title BIT.TRIP SAGA . While the Wii version does offer more levels plus the inclusion of online leaderboards I am still confident that it will be the 3DS version that you keep going back to.

The reason I say this is because each game in this package feels like something you can happily just pick up for five minutes and feel satisfied. The trouble though, is that once you start playing, chances are you will get hooked into its addictive ‘one more go’ gameplay and find yourself playing for several hours, I certainly know this had happened to me a fair few times.

What all these games have in common is their emphasis on rhythm based gameplay. Do not play this game with the sound off. Not only is it integral to the gameplay, it’s also absolutely charming and will have you smiling from ear to ear. There is an element of the game called the Nether which emphasises just how much the sound gets you into the flow of the challenges it presents you with, but I’ll get back to that in a bit.

The six games featured are called: Beat, Core, Void, Runner, Fate and Flux. There is not a single dud among them. All of them are great fun in their own way. Now I’m sure you will find your ‘go to’ titles amongst them but I am confident there will not be a general consensus as to which is the strongest title, it will vary from player to player. Personally for me Void and Runner are my favourites but I still really enjoy the other titles. Every title has easy to pick up controls and also a great difficulty curve to break you in to what each one demands.

Beat and Flux are very similar to each other. Both feature a paddle and will remind you of Pong. You control your paddle with either the analogue stick or with the stylus. I highly recommend playing with the stylus as it offers much better control of the paddle, the analogue stick control feels a little bit too sensitive and makes it incredibly hard to line up the paddle with all the oncoming “beats”.

The aim of these two titles is to hit all the “beats” that are coming your way. Doing this will raise your multiplier and give you a higher score at the end. Each “beat” you miss however adds to your “Nether” bar. When this fills up the screen goes black and white and the music stops, the only sound effect left sounds like a heart monitor. It’s really effective and appropriate as this is a last ditch effort to save yourself. You receive no points while playing in “Nether” and if you continue to miss oncoming “beats” you will lose.

Flux varies slightly to Beat as you also have to worry about avoiding certain beats. These are circles and if hit add to your “Nether” bar.

Both of these titles are incredibly addictive and progressively increase in difficulty to the point where you will be scratching your head how to make progress, but with some commitment, most certainly will.

In Core you have a reticule in the middle of the screen. From here you can shoot up, down, left and right. What you have to do is point in the direction of the oncoming “Beats” and shoot as they reach the halfway point of the screen. Once again this starts off very simply but soon gets mind-bendingly difficult to keep up with. Luckily while you are building up a combo you are also building up a bomb meter, when this is full you are able to clear the screen and give yourself a quick breather before the barrage begin again. Once again I recommend playing this game with the sound on as it really helps you with the timing of your shots. There is also a “Nether” mode in Core which acts the same way as it does in Beat and Flux. Zero points awarded in this phase and your last ditch effort to avoid a game over screen. I found it much harder to escape this phase in Core as with the lack of music it made it incredibly hard to keep my timing.

Void is my second favourite title in this package. In this game you play as a black orb. You have to collect all the black “Beats” and avoid the white ones. Each black “beat” you collect causes your orb to grow in size. This greater your size the more points you are rewarded. However the bigger you get the slower you get as well. It is up to you to decide when to pop your orb to reduce it to its original size. Doing this retains your combo count and keeps your score going up. If a white “Beat” hits your orb you will also go back to your original size and lose your combo. It’s a great game which focuses on risk vs. reward. The “Nether” mode I didn’t find too hard to overcome here as it’s easy to see what you have to avoid. It’s also one of the only games in the collection that I think you can play with the sound off if you really have to.

Now onto my personal favourite title in this collection; Runner. In this title you play as a little running man. What you have to do is get him to the other end of the level by jumping, sliding, kicking, blocking and springing. Each of these actions is required for the various obstacles that are in the runners way. If you don’t get through an obstacle properly or use the wrong action to deal with it you are instantly taken back to the start of the level. This brings me onto what makes this for me the most addictive title in the whole package. There is no game over screen. If you hit an obstacle the game whizzes you back to the start of the level and the little man just instantly starts running again. This keeps you in the game and each run of a level you do, even if you are failing a lot, also feel like you are learning. It’s just as much a memory game as it is a reflex one. I even found myself counting obstacles at one point. Some of the later levels are also much longer. You really start to feel the pressure later on as you know that one mistake will cause you to go back to the start. It’s a fantastic game and highly addictive.

The last game in the pack is called Fate. While this is the title I go to the least out of all of them I still think it’s a fun game. It plays like a side scrolling shoot ‘em up. What this game does differently however, is that you are forced to travel along a wavy line throughout each level. This is where the name Fate comes from as you are destined to travel this predetermined path. You have a tiny red cross on your character which is your hit box, if any enemy bullets hit this then you will lose some life, get hit too much and you enter the “Nether” for your last effort to save yourself. I think the main reason I don’t play this as much as other titles is that it is much slower paced and the music just doesn’t seem to get me as involved as much as Beat and Runner do. Another problem is the controls. You move your character with the Analogue stick but you have to aim and shoot with the stylus. After a prolonged amount of play this does start to feel uncomfortable as you are holding the weight of the system in one hand.

Overall though despite my gripes about Fate, BIT.TRIP SAGA is a fantastic game that I feel is a must buy if you own a Nintendo 3DS. The games are highly addictive, the visuals are fantastic and the 3D effects add a nice layer of depth to the titles. The music is also wonderful and all the old sound board style bleeps and bloops will have you grinning like a Cheshire cat. Be warned though, thinking “just one more go” could lead to losing hours to its addictive gameplay. Go buy this game now.

MLG Rating: 9/10 Platform: 3DS Release Date: 16/03/2012

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of BIT.TRIP SAGA by the promoter for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a 3DS. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

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Midlife Gamer - Computer Games Reviews - Content By Si Stevens & Digi