Bit.Trip Fate Review (WiiWare)

Posted by Jim Cook, Oct 27, 2010 23:52

Gaijin Games’ series mixing old with new continues, and this time they’re offering a very unusual idea. Bit.Trip Fate takes the core of a side-scrolling shooter (like Gradius, Aegis Wing, U.N. Squadron, etc.) and gives it two twists: Shooting enemies causes music to play (and it sounds much better if you manage to regularly and quickly destroy them), and your movement has to stay on a pre-made line; this path is generally the only part of the screen you can be on. The first part just makes the game sound nice when you’re playing well, but that second twist makes dodging incoming bullets rather interesting.

Played using either the Classic Controller or Wiimote plus Nunchuk, you move Commander Video along the line as the stage scrolls automatically; one analog stick moves, and pointing the Wiimote or using the other stick aims. He has a red plus symbol on his chest this time around, which is a player-friendly way of indicating which part of him can be hit by enemies; most of your character is immune to damage, and much like in some bullet hell games slipping that small vulnerable part between projectiles while the rest just appear to hit you is a very important skill. Normally this would be easy, but the line controls where you can go; you’ll have to stick close to its slopes if you wish to go up and down quickly, or gauge whether a fast horizontal move will slip you between the incoming attacks. It’s an interesting idea, and one that adds some real depth to Bit.Trip Fate.

Like most scrolling shooters, you have some power-ups to pick up. Most of them just incrementally upgrade your character when you gather enough of them, letting him take more hits and fire a wider spread of bullets but others are genuinely new weapons that stay with you for a short time. Multi-angle shots, lasers that are hard to aim but can smash through enemy projectiles, and more are available to help you in tight spots. While the new weapons are temporary, the mode upgrades are must-haves; without them your shots won’t cover a very wide area and you’ll be killed in just a few hits.

Each stage lasts several minutes, and while there aren’t many of them they tend to have a large boss at the end. These bosses are where the ’bullet hell’ segments really come into play, because you have to balance being able to move quickly with repeatedly shooting the boss... it’s challenging since Commander Video slows down significantly while you’re firing. Much like Bit.Trip Runner there are no checkpoints so if you die at any point, including the boss fight, you will be sent back to the very beginning of that stage. Some would call this suitably old-school, but I call it needlessly outdated and mean; it’s one of two meaningful flaws the game has.

The only other issue is that Bit.Trip Fate is short, stage replays forced by dying excepted. Each level is pretty long by genre standards, lasting several minutes apiece, but you only get perhaps a half-dozen of them. You can feasibly clear most of what Bit.Trip Fate has to offer in just a few hours, though this has generally been true for the series’ history.

800 Wii Points/$8 USD is an okay price for what you get. Bit.Trip Fate is short, but definitely creative and fun. If you’re a fan of the genre then this game’s unusual ideas will probably appeal to you, and anyone else willing to give a creative game a try will be well served. Honestly, the only groups I wouldn’t recommend the game to are those who shy away from ’hardcore’ games (Bit.Trip Fate is pretty difficult) and those who must make their every gaming dollar stretch as far as it can; this one is more about quality than quantity. But if neither of those cautions apply to you, then this rhythm/scrolling-shooter hybrid should be a nice addition to your Wii’s library.

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Our Rating for Bit.Trip Fate Review (WiiWare)
4.0 Replay
Short and linear, the only real reason to come back for more might be score-attack play.
7.5 Graphics
Mixing blocky retro-style graphics with modern effects works out pretty well here, and most stages have a very good color contrast between the background and incoming projectiles; you’ll definitely see what’s attacking you.
8.0 Sound
The music sounds pretty good when you’re following the flow of the game properly; do well and you’ll enjoy some nice tracks.
8.5 Gameplay
Dodging projectiles by only moving along a sloping line is an interesting idea, and most bullet patterns are fun to try avoiding. Only a few particularly brutal segments near the end and lack of mid-stage checkpoints cause any problems.
5.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
The advertised co-op play actually consists of handing either the Wiimote or Nunchuk to your friend, so you divide the tasks of movement and aiming/firing. It works, but it’s hardly a real selling point.
8.0 Overall
Like most Bit.Trip games, this rhythm/shooter hybrid is short but enjoyable and worth playing if you don’t mind high difficulty.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

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