At some point, every little chick or black, monolithic bipedal being must take the steps required to move away from their home. No matter what our destination is, or how happy and content we are once we reach it, there is always something that makes us want to go back to our point of origin. Since 2009 we’ve journeyed alongside CommanderVideo through five distinct phases of his own personal journey away from home. Along his trek he has had to jump cubic structures, dodge blips, lay waste to countless bosses, and collected waves of beats; but now it’s time to go home. The series’s sixth and final installment, Bit.Trip FLUX, has not had its addictive qualities at all diminished when compared to its predecessors. Each time you fail at a level you will find yourself saying, “Just one more try,” over and over again until your eyes are red, crusty, and feel like they are going to fall right out of your skull. When you close your eyes to sleep at night and all you can see are sliding paddles and flying bits, that’s when you know you’ve been playing it right.
The first five Bit.Trip games all had vastly different core gameplay mechanics. The development team at Gaijin has visited a wide range of ideas from platformers, to shooters, and other things in between. However, each game revolved around the same basic element of rhythm which tied them together and offered a sense of continuity.
Bit.Trip FLUX deviated from this formula a little and returned to the paddle based, Pong inspired gameplay of BEAT. Just like in BEAT, the goal in FLUX is to deflect the scores of bits on the screen with your paddle. You control the paddle by holding the Wii remote horizontally in your hand and twisting it to move the paddle up and down. Hitting beats successively will add to your points, as well as fill up the bar at the top of the screen. Once the bar is full, the game will switch to a special mode in which the point multiplier is higher, and the music and graphics change slightly. Missing a bit will reset your multiplier as well as fill up the bar on the bottom of the screen. Once that bar is full, the game will switch you to Nether mode, or as I like to call it the Nether regions. The graphics will become monochromatic and the only sound is a beep from the speaker on the Wii remote when you successfully hit a bit. To mix things up a little bit, Gaijin put the paddle on the right side of the screen, as opposed to it being on the left side of the screen in BEAT. In BEAT each beat had a different color, and those colors were associated with a certain behavior – yellow bits flew straight at you, orange ones were going to bounce off your paddle a few times, etc. Now in FLUX the beats are all solid white so you have no way to predict what they will do. There are pieces of the previous games interwoven with the new title, such as the beats you must avoid. There are also checkpoints, and the ability to restart from that checkpoint when you fail. Both of these very welcome features are reminiscent of RUNNER. All of these things come together to form a precisely controlled game that is one of the most solid offerings in the rhythm genre for the Wii’s library.
Story and Presentation
Believe it or not, there actually is a story to these games, though what precisely that story is has largely been left open for the players to decide. Bit.Trip BEAT begins the story of the games’ protagonist CommanderVideo, which is told solely through the images of the cutscenes. These cutscenes are rendered mostly with simple geometric shapes with monochromatic colors and the trademark colors from CommanderVideo’s rainbow. It is surprising that these cutscenes can invoke any emotion at all, but they do. Players are likely to find themselves feeling anything ranging between joy and melancholy as the Commander’s story unfolds. Without divulging too much detail, it is easy to say that Bit.Trip FLUX is a game about CommanderVideo’s journey back home. Not only does FLUX return to the core gameplay elements of the game that marked the onset of his journey, but moving the paddle to the other side of the screen indicates that CommanderVideo is heading back in the direction from which he came.
The retro-inspired rhythm arcade game action of Bit.Trip FLUX not only is well constructed technically, but it looks and sounds great. Graphically, the game blends the look of old school pixelated games with modern, 3D high definition imagery of today. Colors are bright and sharp and demand your eyes’ attention. Unfortunately, the foreground action of the game is rendered solely in white and a shade of red. This adds to some difficulties, especially for Bit.Trip veterans that are used to determining an oncoming bit’s behavior by its color. In the two player co-op mode, both paddles are rendered in red, with the second player’s being marked with some black horizontal lines. This can lead to some confusion as to who is controlling which paddle during the game’s more heated moments. The music is a mega-mix of chiptune, dubstep and trance. Each stage’s track starts out good and just gets better and better as your score gets higher. Good music is definitely a prerequisite for any rhythm game, and there is no shortage of it here. The sound track could even be listened to in settings outside of playing a game, if only the tracks were just a little longer.
It’s a little sad to think that there won’t be any more entries into this fantastic series of games, but Gaijin definitely ended with a bang. Key elements from past games such as beats you must dodge, throwback paddle centric gameplay, combine with a crucial checkpoint and restart system to make the penultimate game in this series. The somewhat melancholy story of CommanderVideo has drawn to a close, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work your way through this entire series of awesome games. Well, you could skip VOID, but that’s another article all together. Once you reach the end of CommanderVideo’s journey in Bit.Trip FLUX, you’ll realize you just finished one of the most well-planned and beautiful rhythm games of this generation, and it has a toe-tappin’ soundtrack to boot.
|Great visuals, superb sound, precise controls, and unique gameplay mechanics come together to form one of the best WiiWare experiences to date.||Some would say the color palate choices just add to the challenge of the game, but they really just seem to add an extra and unneeded level of difficulty.s|
|Verdict||Gaijin took everything that was good and amazing from the Bit.Trip Games and expertly melded them into the title known as FLUX. Bit.Trip FLUX is a game you can't live without, unless you hate everything good in the world like chocolate and unicorns.|