Here's our review of BIT.TRIP FLUX, Gaijin Games latest (and final) chapter in the CommanderVideo saga.
It’s hard to believe this day has come. Long after the first chapter saw the light of day, the BIT.TRIP series is coming to an end. BIT.TRIP FLUX represents the final entry in the CommanderVideo saga and, in poetic fashion, developer Gaijin Games brings the series full circle and returns to the original game mechanics of BIT.TRIP BEAT.
For those unfamiliar with BIT.TRIP BEAT, FLUX plays like a psychedelic game of Pong. Players control a single paddle on the screen using the Wii Remote. Holding it sideways, the on-screen paddle is moved by tilting the controller up and down. Pellets fly towards you and you try to hit them all back. Going without missing makes the background and music brighter and more dynamic, while missing too many turns things down, eventually to the point that the game appears in black and white, and the only sound comes from the Wii Remote's speaker.
Unlike BEAT, however, FLUX throws in a new mechanic, in the form of circular pellets that must be avoided. These dangerous dots become difficult to maneuver around when they’re paired up with square beats. These Avoid beats become progressively harder to dodge, culminating in an entire boss battle based around avoiding these round menaces.
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Like the other games in the series, FLUX is visually stunning and a pleasure to the ears. After BIT.TRIP FATE's soundtrack left something to be desired, the music of FLUX is a nice return to form. The beats fit the music like a glove, unlike FATE, which was more geared towards shooting whatever was on-screen. The graphics of FLUX are beautiful to look at, but the bright colors can sometimes work against the player. The vibrant hues can sometimes make the onslaught of pellets difficult to see, particularly during later areas that feature pellets with light trails. Of course, that only becomes an issue for players skilled enough to go on the long streaks it takes to get the experience cranked up to its highest level. Players that are struggling to stay afloat in the chaos will likely see a lot of black and white, thanks to the game’s difficulty level.
Challenge is certainly one aspect of the BIT.TRIP series that has remained constant. Even without the infuriating GAME OVER screens that ran rampant in FATE, FLUX is still brutally hard. Each of the game’s three chapters has several checkpoints, and novices will make full use of them, seeing a lot of the same patterns repeatedly. Of course, pattern recognition will ultimately win the day, as most players will reach the end of the game purely by memorization.
FLUX can be mind-numbingly difficult, but it's far from impossible. After a certain point, the only real trouble is in the motion control. Responsive enough to be playable for the most part, I still found myself overshooting the right spot several times, which led to a lot of lost bonuses.
Gaijin Games has crafted a beautiful swan song for their retro love letter with BIT.TRIP FLUX. Loyal followers of the series will not be disappointed and those that were turned off by the drastic changes in direction represented by RUNNER and FATE can safely return. The best way to describe FLUX is to think of it as a direct sequel to BIT.TRIP BEAT. It's simple; it's fun; and it's undeniable retro goodness. BIT.TRIP FLUX is available now on the Wii Shop Channel for 800 points ($10).
Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what is video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?
Follow him on Twitter at @Ozz_Mejia for musings and random shenanigans.
psst, 800 wii points is $8
So I finished it this weekend and I have to say it was really great.
I'm divided on the checkpoint system ever since ...