148Apps Network Post
Developer: FutureNewbApps
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Retro will never stop being cool. The Bit.Trip games, the return of Mega Man, Bionic Commando: Rearmed – right now we can’t get enough of pixelated games with a classic style and a cool chiptune beat in the background. So surely the time is ripe for neon-tinted, vertical scrolling arcade-themed retro game like Lightspeed Bit Bit?

Not that the game isn’t aware of that. In a spin on Bit.Trip Beat, in Lightspeed Bit Bit‘s main mode, the Bit Bit Mode, the idea is to drag a ship across the vertically scrolling screen, collecting the right bits that drop down and avoiding all the other ones. The right bits are the ones which match the colour of the ship, and these matching bits reward players with points and a health boost. The wrongs ones, however, take away health and break up the combo scoring made up from chains of collected matching bits. More unfortunately, though, the ship’s colour changes every so often, forcing players to be alert. Even more unfortunately, the number of bits dropping down increases quickly until it’s like a multicoloured firestorm raining down from on high.

While it’s a strong idea and as a novelty is interesting, on the normal difficulty games are typically over far too quickly because of that ensuing firestorm. Even with the power-ups that drop down – like one that makes all bits matching – on the normal difficulty it’s incredibly tough to stay alive for more than a minute or two because avoiding non-matching bits becomes all but impossible. Of course there’s an easy difficulty, but this seems far removed from the normal one – the bits drop down so slowly that the game loses its arcade feel. Difficulty is always a tricky balance to strike, especially with many different players to cater for, but Lightspeed Bit Bit needs some tweaking beyond that to make the game last longer than a few minutes and sustain interest throughout that time.

What saves Lightspeed Bit Bit for me are the Obstacle Mode puzzles, in which the ship must be guided through a maze of moving bars. It’s much more satisfying, but unfortunately there are only 20 of the puzzles and each lasts about half a minute. With a few more (maybe a lot more) of those and some heavy tweaking of the main mode there may well be a really decent game in Lightspeed Bit Bit, but right now it sadly doesn’t come together and isn’t anything more than a retro bit of alright.

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