Bit.Trip: Core Preview: Thumb-Aching Good Fun

Bit.Trip: Core is the second installment of a six-part WiiWare music game series developed by Gaijin Games.

The first game, Bit.Trip: Beat came out in March 2009 and quickly established itself as a tough game with solid rhythm gameplay. Though Nintendo never releases sales figures for its WiiWare titles, it's safe to assume the title did pretty well for itself since we already have part two after only a 3-4 month wait. Oh, and it was awesome, too — even though the later levels got crazy-hard.

What Is It? Bit.Trip: Core is a rhythm shooter in the same family as Rez and Everyday Shooter. Players control a fixed reticule in the centre of the screen and shoot beams in one of four directions to tag "beats" that move across the screen in various patterns. As your score climbs, the music changes and you enter into Mega mode and eventually the new Super mode which award higher scoring multipliers. Mess up too much, though, and the screen turns black and white as the player goes into Nether mode, which is a few missed beats away from player death.

What We Saw I spent an hour with the game at Nintendo's Redwood City office. First, I watched developer Gaijin Games' CEO and lead designer, Alex Neuse, take on level 2 and then joined him for co-op in level 2 before attempting level 1 two times on my own and dying horribly without his assistance.

How Far Along Is It? Final. The game is due out on WiiWare Monday, July 6 — the day after my birthday.

What Needs Improvement? Should Come With a Do Not Disturb Sign: You cannot play this game and carry on a conversation. The beat of the music is so crucial and the timing so unforgiving that you need total focus just to survive the first two levels — never mind the crazy-hard last level.

Co-op Might Cause Break-Ups: The co-op gives the reticule two beams for players to control to hit the beats which both go toward a common score. Smart partners will communicate before the level starts to determine which parts of the screen each is responsible for. Not-so-smart partners will probably shoot at the same things at the same time; but this can still work out because having two beams firing in the same direction at the same time in effect extends the time that the beam appears on screen. This gives you a tiny bit of leeway to be off in the timing. But ultimately, unless you're in perfect sync with your partner all of the time or you can laugh at yourself when you lose for the bazillion-th time, you are going to want to garrote your idiot partner with the Wiimote-Nunchuck cable whenever they mess up. And that, kids, is what they call a relationship breaker.

What Should Stay The Same? Amazing Music: Gaijin Games outsourced the music to a place called Petrified Productions and I really dig what they did with the soundtrack.

Listen To The Rhythm Flow: When you can get yourself into that Zen state where nobody is talking to you and you're completely in tune with the music, Bit.Trip: Core feels amazing. It's like a form of meditation with an awesome soundtrack.

It's Like Rez For The Wii: What's not to like?

Final Thoughts I really hope that Gaijin Games does two things: one, that they create a compilation of all six parts once they come out and two, that they create a DSi version. Neuse says there are no immediate plans to do either at the moment, but if the Bit.Trip games continue to do well on WiiWare, he says there's no reason they wouldn't look into it. Rock on.


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