The Bit.Trip: Hard to Beat Value Pack of Zen

The Bit.Trip is a collection of six games featuring the character Commander Video in very simply controlled arcade style games featuring chiptunes, rhythm based movement, and a pixely 80’s style aesthetic.

The six games in Bit.Trip have those qualities in common, but they range from side scrolling shooters to a trippy re-imagining of pong. Let’s take a quick look at each game in Bit.Trip.

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Beat is like a one player pong, with a paddle on the left, and balls approaching from the right. Just when you get the rhythm down, Beat switches it up by having balls bounce at you diagonally, or my least favorite, boomerang back at you three times until you can finally swat them away for good. The paddle is controlled simply by tilting the Dualshock 4 or Vita slightly, and control is very responsive. If you miss too many balls, the colors and music fade, leaving a very Pong-like look and sound until you can build back your score or you lose the game. This was my favorite game of the pack, and I preferred playing it on the PS4, because when I tilted the Vita, my eyes would sometimes lose track of the ball due to movement.

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12768167_10153886448721866_6206417138117645450_oCore places a giant crosshairs in the middle of the screen, and pixel balls come across the screen from all four directions. As the balls cross one of the four arms of the crosshairs, you must press that direction on the crosspad while pressing X at the same time to blast it. I simply was never getting the timing right while playing on the PS4 with the screen 7 feet away, but once I played on my Vita, with the screen right in front of me, I did much better.

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12771957_10153886448706866_4403721464491839305_oVoid has the player controlling a pixelated ball that gets larger as it touches other black balls, and pops when it touches white balls. I suppose it’s meant to be a black hole based on the name. It becomes quite challenging to avoid the white balls as your black hole grows to fill almost the entire screen, but you can burst the black hole yourself and get points. The question becomes how greedy for points do you get before risking it all with a brush against a white ball?

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12711085_10153886448566866_250461172714480957_oRunner was probably my second favorite game in the collection. Commander Video is running from left to right, and the player can only controller whether he jumps or slides on the ground. Obstacles like pits and overhead boulders must be avoided, while speed powerups and gold that unlocks the bonus stage must be collected. The music and backgrounds are especially great for this game, and timing your jumps to the beat is critical, especially with stairs.

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Fate is a side-scrolling shooter with one key difference. You are trapped on a curving rail, able to move forward and backward, but not off the rail. This makes you vulnerable to enemy shots quite a bit more than if you had free movement throughout the level. Fortunately, enemies release cubes which replenish your health, as well as power-ups which give Commander Video better weapons. In a nice touch, some of these power-ups will look familiar to indie game players like myself. For example, one of the power-ups is Meat Boy!

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12466115_10153886448561866_5252495725424683887_oFlux plays a lot like Beat, except your paddle is on the right, balls fly at you from the left, and controls for the paddle are inverted. Players seeking a challenge may love this one, but the inversion made my head hurt, and I couldn’t get into the flow on this one.

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Verdict: Recommended

It’s hard to argue the value of The Bit.Trip. Even if you don’t like a few of the games (for me, Core and Flux), you get six full games playable on PlayStation 4, Vita, and soon PlayStation 3 for just $9.99. Sony’s crossbuy feature really helps this game’s value, as these games work well for the most part on mobile and home consoles.

The games within Bit.Trip really meld music, simple controls, and rhythmic gameplay well, giving the player a zen-like experience in a very short amount of time. Beat especially would be a great palate cleanser after an intense online shooter, allowing the player to unwind, unclench, and zone out for a bit.

For unwinding in general, emptying your mind of swirling thoughts, I can recommend a quick play session with The Bit.Trip. 

It’s way cheaper than therapy.

A copy of The Bit.Trip on PS4/Vita(PS3 TBA) was provided for review. As always, you can hear more about this and other games I’m playing on the Plug and Play podcast.