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Bit.Trip Saga review

All six retro-loving games squeezed onto one dinky cartridge

People often ask us what games they should get for their shiny new Wii. Almost without fail, we recommend that they get their system online pronto and download the WiiWare gem Bit.Trip Runner. Of course, Runner is only one of six Bit.Trip games on WiiWare, each offering a simple, addictive and insanely difficult, retro-inspired experience. Bit.Trip Saga gathers all six games and bundles them together on one 3DS cartridge.

The first and last games, Bit.Trip Beat and Bit.Trip Flux clearly take their inspiration from old bat-and-ball games like Pong and Breakout. The concept is simple - as balls approach your paddle you bat them away - but it's designed in such a way that things get very difficult very quickly.

The 3DS ports of Beat and Flux are much easier to control than the WiiWare version, which had you twisting the Wii Remote to move the paddle up and down. This time you simply touch your stylus on the bottom screen and slide it up and down to move the paddle on the top screen. There's also an option to play each game with the Circle Pad instead of the stylus, but it's hyper-sensitive and your paddle flies all over the place so we wouldn't really recommend it unless you've got a burning passion for Game Over screens.

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Core Blimey

Also in Saga is Bit.Trip Core, which we reckon is the most difficult of the six games and also the weak link in the series. Holding a D-Pad to choose a direction and pressing a button to zap balls as they travel through the middle of the screen gets dull and frustrating, and it's likely this is the last game in the series you'll be interested in taking the time to finish completely.

Thankfully, the same can't be said of Bit.Trip Void or Bit.Trip Fate. These are very different types of game - one has you collecting black balls while avoiding white ones as you grow, and the other is a shooter where you travel along a fixed path - but both are built around the concept of risk and reward, so you'll be keen to replay them over and over again in search of elusive perfect runs and higher scores.

Finally, there's the fantastic Bit.Trip Runner, a side-scrolling platformer where your character never stops running to the right. Split-second reactions and precision jumping are the order of the day here and, though you'll die many hundreds of times, the game chucks you straight back into the action to ensure you never have time even to consider whether or not to have one more go. This is a superb game and the soundtrack alone makes it a highlight.

Tuned In

In fact, it's the audio feats of all six games that make Bit.Trip Saga really stand out on 3DS. Plug in some good quality headphones, turn it up and you will fall in love with each game's chiptune, dance, chillout and dubstep-inspired soundtrack as every ball hit, jump made, shot fired and dot collected sounds out to the beat of the music. You will never feel so immersed in a game than you do when you're playing a Bit.Trip game (Core excepted) with headphones on and the volume turned right up.

Unfortunately, the eyes aren't treated as well as the ears with this 3DS port. With the exception of Bit.Trip Beat, every game in Bit.Trip Saga suffers from a hefty drop in framerate when you slide up from 2D to 3D. While this isn't such a problem in slower games such as Void, when you're playing the fast-paced Runner it feels like a real step down. Ironically, when playing the retro-inspired bonus stages in Runner (which are deliberately made to look simplistic), it runs at a perfect 60 frames per second, making it smoother than the main game.

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7 comments so far...
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  1. torterratrainer Thursday 15th Mar 2012 at 15:41

    i hope this is first comment.
    this looks really good and fun toi play but im sure like most gamers or now, i prefer length not modes

  2. Skywardwolf23 Thursday 15th Mar 2012 at 16:04

    Intresting. Though I agree length not modes.

  3. SoulSilver IV Thursday 15th Mar 2012 at 16:30

    I am picking this up tomorrow. I have all 6 games on WiiWare (plus Beat and Runner on Steam), and the prospect of being able to play these suckers on the Tube makes me really excited. I tried a demo out at the Nintendo Westfield event, and it seems they've toned the framerate down in 3D to stop slowdown experienced in the US version. To be fair, this is a small indie team, Gaijin is only 4 guys big, although they did acquire Robotube games so I don't know if they helped out on the port at all.

  4. Ai64 Thursday 15th Mar 2012 at 18:42

    I have all six games on wiiware, but also thinking to add saga to my 3DS collection. Bit trip on the move? Yes please! :)

  5. MartinIsAwesome Friday 16th Mar 2012 at 11:22

    I get that the selling-point of this is that it makes the Bit.Trip games portable, but I'd much rather have the Wii version, Bit.Trip Complete, which comes with more bonus materials including a soundtrack CD.

  6. tomutwit Friday 16th Mar 2012 at 15:51

    I guess I'll wait for your Complete review then. Assuming the Complete games will basically be the originals because, well, it's both on Wii, and then there's the extra stuff... looks like Skyward Sword might not be my last Wii game after all.

  7. diffusion8r Friday 16th Mar 2012 at 17:04

    Just wondering, was this UK or US version reviewed? As apparently they optimised the PAl version to remove slowdown?

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