Austrian developer Bplus has had some bad luck with WiiWare so far. Its first game, Plattchen: Twist N Paint, was hideously overpriced at 1500 Points (not to mention immensely confusing and frustrating). Then came its second attempt, Niki: Rock N Ball, which was cheaper but still annoying to play. Is Bit Boy!! a case of third time lucky? Not even close.
The concept is a genuinely clever one: as Bit Boy, you have to make your way from the early 4-bit days of the Atari and Coleco consoles, all the way through 8-bit (NES), 16-bit (SNES), 32-bit (PlayStation), 64-bit (N64) and 128-bit (Wii) generations to save your friends. As you progress through the game's various levels, the graphics and gameplay evolve to show how gaming has changed over the years. At least, that's the idea. The reality is far from enjoyable.
The simple fact is that, graphics and controls aside, there really isn't much difference between the 4-bit levels (run around a maze collecting red blocks and avoiding enemies) and the 128-bit levels (run around a maze collecting red blocks and avoiding enemies). Yes, as you get to each new "generation" there are some differences to the gameplay, but the simple fact is that by the time you get to the 8-bit stages and gain the ability to attack the gameplay doesn't really evolve until the final 128-bit stages, where you can jump (poorly) by flicking the Remote.
A Bit Rubbish
Every time you start a new generation of levels, you're presented with a list which literally spells out the changes in the graphics, sound and gameplay that you can expect. This only goes to show that Bit Boy!! doesn't really do its job, because despite us being blatantly told "look! This is what gaming used to be like! Do you see the difference?!", the fact is that the differences are actually negligible.
How come the sound effects when we collect objects or die in the "128-bit" levels are exactly the same as the ones in every other generation, all the way down to "4-bit"? How come the 32-bit, 64-bit and 128-bit levels all have the same terrible 3D camera: didn't that evolve too? How come the music in the 128-bit levels isn't CD-quality stuff but just the same retro-sounding stuff we've been hearing throughout the whole game? And if the final set of 128-bit levels is what Bplus really thinks a Wii game should look like, then it needs to take another look: this makes Ninjabread Man look like Gears Of War.
While this might all seem like nit-picking, the most important point to note is that, "clever" retro gimmick aside, Bit Boy!! is simply a bad game. It has terrible level design (the mazes have all sorts of dead ends, which leave you no choice but to end up trapping yourself in with an enemy and using up one of your attacks), atrocious AI (the enemies don't seem to be interested in where you are at all), an embarrassingly low lifespan (we completed all the levels in 40 minutes) and a complete lack of replay value. Yes, there's a "Warp mode" (whatever that means), which is effectively a high score mode, but there are countless WiiWare and Virtual Console games which are infinitely more enjoyable for anyone who's into high score-beating.
It's a sad day when a developer goes for style over substance, and then proceeds to get the style completely wrong too. Perhaps had Bit Boy!! been based on platform games then there would have been more scope for variation (4-bit: still screens, 8-bit: scrolling, 16-bit: map screens etc, 32-bit: 2.5D side-scrolling, 64-bit: 3D free-roaming, 128-bit: Wii pointer controls), but by choosing to go for the maze game genre, which has effectively been all but dead since the 16-bit days, Bplus has drastically stifled its own potential for creativity. Bit Boy!! is like a comedian telling a long joke, realising half-way through telling it that nobody's finding it funny, then losing interest and not really telling it properly. It sounded like a great idea when it was first announced, but the result is a poorly-executed game with a poorly-executed gimmick attached to it. If you want a maze game, even the badly-ported NES version of Pac-Man is better than this and it's 100 Points cheaper.