BIT.TRIP Presents…Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien Review

Now that is a title! Runner 2 is the sequel to the fantastic BIT.TRIP.Runner that has seen releases for just about every format under the sun. We check out the PS Vita release.

If you’ve never played the original Runner, then it is a pretty simple affair. You take control of Commander Video and run from left to right avoiding obstacles. In a world of endless runners, this was pretty much a standout game, as it had a much better structure. Runner 2 takes the same premise and well…runs with it.

Runner wasn’t only simple to play, it had a very basic look to go with it. The game was lovely and colourful and a joy to look and and play. Runner 2 is very much the same, with near identical mechanics but it has been given a lovely makeover. The visuals appear as though they have had a lot more time on them, with backgrounds, level design and general feel, coming across as much more up to date game.

There are things going on in the background, that you will not initially pick up on, but just add to the overall immersion. You are concentrating on Commander Video and the obstacles that are there to ruin your run, so you simply soak up everything else that is going on, on an almost subconscious level. We only noticed properly when making a point of looking for it.

As said the mechanics are as you’d expect, if you had given the original your attention. Running from left to right, avoiding obstacles by jumping, sliding, blocking, dancing. Yes dancing! Instead of throwing all these mechanics at you from the very first level, the game introduces you to each aspect bit by bit, giving you a few levels to really get used to how they work.

Initially the game starts off fairly easy, you can complete runs with comparative ease and usually without death. However, as you progress through levels and then the various worlds, things become all that much more difficult. It becomes a case of trial and error, mixed with reaction times and good memory. The trial and error isn’t badly implemented though, it is designed around it, you play a level, you’ll die at a point, but then go back again and remember that section and how to take it on. Go further, maybe die again.

It is a system that works really well, but it isn’t just getting to the end  to complete the game. There is also a high score mechanic to go with it. Jump over an enemy, slide under an enemy, collect gold, crates, keys, etc and you are given points. These all rack up for a final total at the end of each level. When things like Dance are added to the mix, you can really boost that score. Dancing gives you points and you want to bust those moves as much as possible throughout each level.

Doing so is easier said than done though, as a dance move needs to get to a certain point before a jump or slide command can then be entered. We are only talking fractions of a second here, but when this is a game that tests your reactions, getting the balance right is vital.

As you are introduced to the new mechanics, you start to understand how those earlier unobtainable scores are possible and you go back to reach them. There are 100 levels in the game, plus 25 retro levels (which can be obtained by collecting secret cartridges in certain levels), each level has an easy, just right, or hard setting and any can be played at any time.

There is a lot of content here and great value for your money. There aren’t really any sections that are lacking and throughout your time with the game, you’ll have a blast. Well we say a blast, there will be moments or utter frustration, as you fail sections again and again. But much like something like Trials HD, the frustration never gets in the way of your overall enjoyment. It isn’t something easy to pull off, but the team at Gaijin have done just that.

Runner 2 is a wonderful game, one that will last you and age as you want nothing more but to rinse every last bit of enjoyment from a wonderfully crafted experience. Once you beat every level, complete every goal, you’ll be going after those top scores, the closer you get, the harder you want to try. Pick this up right now.