Gaijin Games’ sequel to the (mostly) acclaimed Bit.Trips’ Runner, Runner 2, is a side scrolling, rhythm based, platformer set in a bold and bright world which has you, the player, guiding your auto running chosen character through a world full of obstacles with the use of well timed jumps, blocks, kicks etc….
Unlike many auto running games, Runner 2 differs in that each level has a start, middle (checkpoint) and an end. Rather than being one continuous level where you are measured by the distance you survive for, instead you are measured on collectibles per level and as such, there are approximately 100 levels available across five differently themed worlds to challenge you all of which can be played on 3 different difficulties. There are many characters and different outfits that can be unlocked by progressing through the levels normally and finding keys that open chests containing these collectibles but the main collectibles are gold and plus signs, each of which add notes to the background music increasing the tempo and volume along with your playing.
Visually the game looks great. There are big and bright colours with smooth animation and some interesting things going on in the background (if you can take your eyes off the path for a split second). It is all very cartoon like and works a treat. The different themes in the world all look great with designs based on coastal areas, jungles and even lava worlds.
The sound is obviously vital to a rhythm game and is perfectly suited to the gameplay. Collectibles and obstacle avoidance add beats and rhythm to the on-going background track and harder difficulties and later levels with more obstacles really throw high tempo tracks at you adding to the tension of preparing to avoid the next obstacle. The feeling that your actions control the music is definitely there and adds so much to this game.
As well as perfectly suited game play music, all voice over narration and cut scene work was done by the exalted Charles Martinet who voices Mario, Luigi, Wario, Donkey Kong, Vigoro (Skies of Arcadia)and Paarthunax (Skyrim) to name just a few. The cut scenes and narration is comical enough and adds to the overall humorous and slightly “out there” feel of the game.
The gameplay is smooth and easy to pick up but challenging to master. A perfect run would include making it to the end of the level having avoided all obstacles and collected all gold bars and plus signs. If you get to the end of the level like this you are awarded a score of Perfect and at the end of every level, when completed perfectly, there is a little addition where you character pops himself into a cannon and you have to fire him at a target. Hit the bull’s eye and your score changes to a Perfect Plus.
Thankfully this game is easy to get into with a smooth learning curve and while you will find yourself restarting levels and checkpoints often, it never felt frustrating. Instead I just carried straight on practicing and practicing until I got through the difficult area and then moved straight on to the next. It is a very rhythmic experience and you find your fingers moving perfectly to the beat as you jump and slide your way past obstacle after obstacle.
The game also has many challenges and rewards to help keep you playing and most achievements and trophies are built around these. They are very straightforward and are more based around length of play or level completion. Rewards like “Jump 100 times” and “Slide 100 times” will all come naturally through playing whereas having to get a certain amount of “Perfect Plus” levels may take a little more practice.
What you get with Runner 2 is not deep, inspirational or thought provoking. It is not an immersive story or ground breaking in anyway. What it is though is FUN! Slightly humorous, bright and colourful and perfect for short, sharp bursts of enjoyment. Challenging enough for those who want that and easy enough to get into and improve for the rest.
A very decent game.
Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
The Final Score - 8/10
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