Auto-runner games seem to be released every day, especially on mobile devices. While they may be initially fun, it’s a short burn and is mostly forgettable after it’s all said and done. Bit.Trip Presents…Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien distinguishes itself from the pack with its ability to constantly evolve and challenge you without feeling unfair.
At face value, Runner 2 may seem like a simple auto-runner game, but don’t let that initial assumption fool you; the simplicity you find early on is short lived, and the game advances in many ways as you dive deeper into each world. While the game controls your forward motion, you control just about everything else imaginable.
You play as Commander Video, and you’re on a mission to find your friends. That’s about as deep as the story goes, but the game only uses the story as some context for what you’re doing; it’s a pretty thin story, but the game never tries to make it bigger than it has to be. The game just focuses on being a fun game, and it thrives in doing so.
The beauty of Runner 2 is its ability to introduce new mechanics at just the right time. Just when you get comfortable with everything the game throws at you, whether it be a new enemy, skill, or obstacle that is introduced that will have to be integrated into your growing repertoire. The first levels are fairly simplistic with jumping over obstacles, whereas later levels will introduce punching to take out some enemies, sliding to get into tight places, bound pads to time your jump perfectly for gold, and so much more. The diverse challenges that the game provides keeps it fresh until the very end, and it constantly kept me on my toes.
At the end of each world, you’ll have a boss stage to complete in order to progress forward. These boss stages often consist of commands and skills that were introduced in the previous levels within the world you’re currently in. While bosses offer a different change of pace, they can sometimes feel cheap, as the indication for what to do may not be as obvious as in normal levels. Since the boss stages take most learned skills from their respective worlds, it can feel almost like a downgrade from the perfect accompaniment of skills, rather than testing everything you’ve learned like in normal levels. The boss battles can still be somewhat fun, but compared to the rest of the game, it doesn’t reach the same pedigree.
Runner 2 won’t blow you away with its graphics, but it’s pretty enough to be somewhat visually pleasing. The move to PlayStation Vita has resulted in the game not looking as crisp as the console versions, and it lacks the visual polish that make the original game pop. Environments, characters, and everything in between have a more pixel-y look about them compared to other versions – even the iOS one.
Runner 2 comes with an excellent soundtrack that goes to the beat of your platforming. It not only is catchy, but invaluable, too. Using the beat of the music while progressing through levels always helped me form a rhythm when I maneuvered through whatever the game threw at me. The melodious cadence in Runner 2 is peaceful, and it invokes a sense of calm during play, which is a nice contrast to the heightened urgency you’ll feel when playing the game.
Runner 2 is an excellent port, and it’s a perfect fit for the Vita. The short levels and constantly evolving challenges always keep the game fresh and rewarding. Runner 2’s easy to learn, difficult to master approach to gameplay opens up to a more casual crowd while still offering a brutal challenge to those looking to test their skill – and patience – for ecery level. Boss levels and downgraded graphics hold back Runner 2 from being nothing short of incredible, but they’re only miner hindrances to an otherwise amazing experience.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation Vita version of the game Bit.Trip Presents…Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien by Gaijin Games.
- Amazing Progression
- Great Soundtrack
- Boss fights
- Okay Visuals