BIT.TRIP BEAT Review
The easiest way to describe Gaijin Games’ BIT.TRIP BEAT is as a game of Pong merged with a rhythm action game. Originally released as a downloadable title on the Wii last year, the game makes a seamless transition to the iPhone with its great gameplay, incredible soundtrack, and nostalgia inducing retro visual style. But like the original, it’s also incredibly difficult. So much so that it will probably turn off a large number of players.
Like the quintessential Pong, BIT.TRIP BEAT has you controlling a paddle and using it to bat away incoming balls. It’s not a virtual game of table tennis though, as you’re not playing against a computer controlled opponent on the other end of the screen. Instead, you’re just bombarded with balls. They flow in from the right, slowly at first, before picking up in speed and intensity. There are different types of balls too. Some will simply bounce off your paddle and off the screen, while others will boomerang right back at you or swirl around in confusing patterns.
The balls also come at you in time to the beat. So successfully knocking them away is as much about keeping with the rhythm is as it is about quick reflexes. And you’ll definitely need both in order to get very far.BIT.TRIP BEATis made up of only three different stages, but they’re all quite long with no save points. So if you happen to fail, you’ll have to start over again from the beginning. And since the difficulty ramps up very quickly, this makes just finishing a level a very satisfying accomplishment. But it also means that things can get very frustrating as you’ll inevitably be stuck playing the same stage over and over again.
The iPhone version of the game does feature three new “remixed” stages, but these need to be purchased separately as a $2 in-app purchase. They aren’t for the feint of heart, however, as the new levels are even more difficult than the rest of the game. In addition to the single player mode, BIT.TRIP BEAT also features both online and local multiplayer play. In these modes, up to four players can play simultaneously, which, while fun, can be a bit of a mess. Keeping track of everything that happens in the game is hard enough during the single-player mode, but when you throw in a few extra paddles it can be overwhelming. I also experienced a number of technical issues when trying to play local multiplayer games, as the game would frequently either run very sluggishly or disconnect all together.
In the transition from the Wii to the iPhone, BIT.TRIP BEAT managed to retain its incredible, neo-retro sense of style. The visuals are simple, pixelated, and gorgeous, with dazzling special effects that make it hard to keep your eyes focused. Likewise, the chiptune soundtrack is fantastic across all three of the included levels, though the new remixed stages aren’t quite as impressive musically.
All in all, the iPhone port of BIT.TRIP BEAT is a solid version of a great game. It may be ego-crushingly difficult, but it’s still one of the best rhythm action games around, with an incredible sense of style and some great music. If you don’t mind failing – a lot – then BIT.TRIP BEAT is sure to have you nodding your head for hours. Just be sure to play with headphones on.