Have you ever played a side-scrolling platform game and tried to plough through a level as quickly as possible? Have you ever felt the satisfaction of getting from start to finish without stopping, getting past every obstacle without it slowing you down? This is the satisfaction that Bit.Trip Runner recreates over and over again.
The fourth in the fantastic Bit.Trip series of WiiWare games, Runner is our favourite so far by a country mile. The aim, as with other Bit.Trip games, is deceptively straightforward: get to the end of each level while collecting gold bars and red plus signs.
As fans of Bit.Trip would know, however, doing this is not easy. For starters, your character continually runs left and right and can't be stopped, meaning you have to deal with the obstacles on the fly without having the luxury to slow down, take a breather and assess the situation. Then there's the fact that the slightest mistake - a missed jump, a touched rock, even a bump against a platform that stops you in your tracks temporarily - will see you sent right back to the start of the (often lengthy) level, with no checkpoints at all.
This may sound like a recipe for disaster but it couldn't be further from the truth. Bit.Trip is a game that demands perfection and while it's likely that playing it will make you drop f-bombs more frequently than Scarface it's immensely fulfilling when you finally get to the end of the level.
That's not even the half of it, though. The true majesty of Bit.Trip Runner lies within its sensational soundtrack. Once again the developer has gathered some of the best chiptune artists around and asked them to contribute for the game, resulting in not only the best title screen music we've ever heard in a game but also some truly breathtaking tracks that play and evolve to the beat of the platforming action. Each level has been expertly designed in such a way that every jump, every collectible, every action you perform adds to the music, creating an experience that's so much more than just running from left to right.
Bit.Trip Runner has one minor niggle in that there are no online leaderboards, though with a perfect score possible on each level it's clear why. Its longevity can't be questioned because getting a double perfect on each level (getting every gold bar and then every gold bar in the awesome Atari 2600-style bonus level) will be an achievement reached by only the greatest players.
If your Wii is online, you can't not get this game. It's the perfect example of what WiiWare is all about, it's immensely addictive and it puts some of the other cynical, money-making releases on there to shame.