How do you translate a series that's entire gimmick was based on the Wii's motion controls? It's a tough question, but they figured it out with the Switch, making it a handheld must - lite users, this one's perfect for you. Graphics inspired by the pre-NES era, a treat and a rarity in the indie space (with most opting for that 8bit nostalgic overdose), a variety of different homages whether to pong, runners or shoot-em-ups, and a finale that ties all these classic genres into one? Bit.Trip takes simplicity and does wonders with it.
Indie games that pay tribute to the arcade days tend to end up in that vein of being homages without the authenticity - they clearly draw inspiration and base their entire personas off of the old gaming hubs with the joystick there for the taking, but they either add too much stuffing or veer too far from the path to feel truly genuine. A few of the Bit.Trip titles (particularly Beat) stand out as truly feeling like the arcade experience in the modern day, with tight-knit controls, superb momentum, intuitive gameplay that makes the entry level approachable, fair difficulty with checkpoints aplenty and no pixel perfect shenanigans. The challenge is present as it was back in the golden days of arcade machines; the simplicity is at the core of each and every entry into the collection; the visual art style (in most of the titles) has that old time-y feel - it's just smoother and crisper. Granted, not every single entry into the collection feels like it could be found on the original arcade machines, with Runner coming to mind in particular, but it stands out with its own drop-dead gorgeous backdrops and visuals, as well as its almost Super Meat Boy secret level aesthetic that feels more akin to the modern classics which is joyous in its own right.
The biggest gripe I have is that all of these games are being sold in separate packages rather than a complete collection with a menu differentiating them - having many Bit.Trips flooding my Switch Home screen was a little bit obtuse and certainly made jumping from one to the other less user-friendly. However, the structuring of these games is fantastic, with each one easing you into a different arcade game, whether that's getting used to firing off a laser beam to take down enemies, deflecting white pixels in a Pong-style fashion or even becoming a black hole that you had to shrink at the perfect time, all to cultivate with Bit.Trip Flux. In this Endgame of arcade games, each of the prior titles play a role. However, despite this ultimate finale that tests all your skills being the be-all-and-end-all, I found myself playing Bit.Trip Beat more than anything, purely because the simplicity of Pong toppled with the smooth and responsive motion controls was a treat that didn't need to try too hard, so it didn't. That's what this collection ultimately excels at, offering a classic experience for everyone without the archaic, janky problems of days-gone-by, whether we want to admit that the ol' arcade titles weren't perfect.
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Story / Personality
There's hints of a story in Bit.Trip but it's clearly not the main focus - there are some key characters and a cutscene or two. Personality, however? There's plenty. From the perfectly named titles, with my favourites being Core, Fate and Flux, to the action-packed visuals that make even the less appetising portions interesting to look at, right through to the chiptune music that feels nostalgic yet fresh all in one fell swoop, Bit.Trip breathes and bleeds charm in a way that many indie Member Berries fail to.
Graphics / Art Direction
When it comes to graphics - there's not a whole lot to say. Bit.Trip has clean, sharp visuals that look good on a Switch big or small, but the point that needs to be talked about is its massive leap up from its last Nintendo outing - the Wii. Last time we experienced Bit.Trip, it was in a 4:3 aspect ratio and it looked squeezed to say the least. Having the widescreen certainly did wonders and it, rather naturally, looks even better shrunk down onto the tablet.
Final Score: 83%
Bit.Trip is an arcade bundle which is fast becoming a more niche slice of gaming, but if you enjoy the genre, then it's a must-have. The collection is simple but the difficulty is fair, albeit absolutely present. That learning curve isn't too steep - it's intuitive, easy to navigate, but gradual enough to egg you on to keep pushing for perfection. These games make for a fun time-killer, but they're also a treat to master.
Thank you for checking out our Bit.Trip Series Switch review, thank you to Wiretap Media for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
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