Developer: Gaijin Games
Price: $3.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

I imagine that everyone who has ever owned an iOS device has played an endless runner or ten. They’re just ubiquitous. And sometimes, what happens during the best of them is that careful ballet – that feeling of everything coming together perfectly. Due to random and/or procedural generation, that happens only periodically.

BitTripRun1That feeling is what Bit.Trip Run is built around in its entirety. This auto-runner, based off of Runner 2 but revamped for mobile, is more akin to a careful dance than a frantic survival game like Canabalt or Temple Run because it is all about intricate design.

Players control the auto-running Commander Video – protagonist of Gaijin’s long-running Bit.Trip series – which saw an earlier iOS entry in Bit.Trip Beat. He must jump, slide, kick, and dance (that’s right) his way through levels that are plotted out with hazards in such a way that everything must be timed properly to make it to the end.

How the game makes this feel satisfying is through positive feedback. Doing something right, like collecting a gold bar or kicking an enemy, sets off a sound that is timed to the music. Thus, doing things correctly just feels so satisfying because it makes the music feel complete. It’s one heck of a positive feedback loop. It makes the game feel almost like a rhythm game rather than a platformer.

BitTripRun4The game also eludes frustration by quickly and automatically sending players back to the beginning – or to the checkpoint if it was hit. There’s also no real punishment to one’s score for messing up; actually encouraging players to experiment and to try to mess up in a frustration-free environment. Well, it’s not easy, especially the optional bonus levels, but at least the game makes it hard to get all that angry at it.

The controls are based around a swipe system that generally works well, though sometimes a swipe would be detected as something besides what I thought I did, causing me to die. So while that’s annoying, it’s really not too terrible because of the game’s structure.

Bit.Trip Run uses the gold bars that are collected throughout levels as a currency for unlocking new levels, characters, and outfits. There’s no kind of ‘pay to win’ mechanic, and levels can be easily ground out for more gold bars too, so it’s not a huge bother.

Really, Bit.Trip Run is just an immensely satisfying game. It nails that balance of challenge while not being frustrating. And it looks great: while I initially wasn’t a fan of Runner 2‘s move away from the Bit.Trip pixel art style, I must admit that in action it looks great. Plus, the pixely Commander Video is available, too. The 60-plus levels here will take some time to master, and more is promised down the road. I know most of us have played too many auto-running games in our lives, but make an exception for Bit.Trip Run – it’s that good.


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