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Pong Turns Evil: Bit.TRIP.Beat Review

Rating
Gameplay
Graphics
Replay Value
Price
Summary: Pretty to look at, awesome to listen to, challenging to play - the way games should be. Could be a little cheaper.
3.3
Addictive

Here’s a challenge for you: try to imagine what the offspring of 80s classic Pong and modern-day Guitar Hero would look like. 

Got a picture in your head? Nice. Now let’s see if looks anything like this…

Beat Trip Beat

Bit.TRIP.Beat is a genre-melding mash-mash of gaming styles. It fuses the the feel-good fun of retro gaming with the frustration and patience-sapping of modern puzzle titles.

So whilst it’s nice to look at it is by no means a walk in the 8bit park…

Bit.TRIPPY

Bit.TRIP.Beat (BTB hereon-in  is made by Gaijin games, a company whose other title ‘Bit.TRIP.Runner’ is also available from the Ubuntu Software Center. Both titles have featured in previous Humble Indie Bundle sales.

The game mechanics sound simple enough on paper: you control a bat on the left-hand side of the screen and must use it to deflect ‘beats’ that come along from the right, with each successful deflection adding to an overal ‘rhythm’ that you can use to aid you as you go on.

So far, so simple.

But, as someone who once threw a Gameboy at the wall in frustration over the ‘fast’ levels in Tetris, I did find that as the game progressed so did my level of frustration. Things get relentless. Relentless to the point of insanity, in fact. And that’s without mentioning the (often weird) boss levels.

See, the little ‘pong’ pixels you bat away don’t all behave the same way. To make the game more challenging different pixels have different behaviours, so you need to be able to adapt fast. And as this game is, on Linux at least, played using a mouse or trackpad you will need to ensure your sensitivity levels are very finely tuned.

Difficulty aside (note: there are three varying degrees of this, so do try each to find your comfort zone) my only major in-game complaint centers around the degree of animation in its backgrounds. When there are incoming beats moving in the foreground the last thing I want my reflexes to be responding to are twirly-swirly cubey-woobies doing a dance in the background.

More often than not I needed to pause, shake my head and steady myself before going back for another pixel-smashing onslaught. If you’re susceptible to motion sickness do have a sick bag ready.

Summary

The retro vibe, chip-tune soundtrack, and easy-to-grasp gameplay gives BTB a relatively low entry level, making it ideal for casual gamers, bored students, or anyone stuck in a call-center queue for 20 minutes and in need of entertaining.

It woos you with its fun, glossy exterior, and the savages you inside with ferociously fiendish gameplay waiting to feed on your frustration.

Whilst it won’t win over the Crysis contingent, a sub-group rarely satisfied by anything, a thriving gaming ecosystem relies just as much on variety as it does top-tier graphics and triple AAA titles.

And with those aforementioned set of games on the way with Valve’s Steam for Linux, Bit.TRIP.Beat proves to have perfect timing.

Buy Bit.TRIP.Beat Linux

Price wise Bit.TRIP.Beat (Linux) is a little more expensive than I’d want, being sold in the Ubuntu Software Center for $9.99.

Buy Bit.Trip.Beat on Ubuntu