REVIEW: bit Generations

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There’s a big series of these now, but I’m not sure how they are all related save for being released on Nintendo systems.  There’s this series, which was developed by skip for GBA, then the Art Style games for WiiWare and DSiWare also developed by skip, then the Bit.Trip games for WiiWare developed by Gaijin Games.  They all have a very similar minimalist, almost vector-like style to them, and usually have rockin’ music to go along with the simple games.  The games are easy, variations on a simple things like pong, block rotation, sound pattern recognition, races… things like that.  They look awesome, don’t they?

Don’t fall for the same trap I did. I was super-excited when the bit Generations games came out. I had just realized what fun could be had with imported games, and since these were all in English, I was so ready to buy a couple and try them out. Of the initial batch, Orbital seemed like the most well-received, so I got that one first.

The object is to propel yourself around the galaxy and pick up little planets, or something, and make orbits. The game play is not intuitive, and while the game itself is entirely in English, the instruction manual is in Japanese, so I had no idea how to play. I had to wait a while before I found sufficient documentation online explaining the game play. By that time, I wasn’t ready to have fun with it anymore.

Dissappointed, I went for Boundish next. Boundish is a variation on Pong, and I sure do love me Pong and Arkanoid clones. The problem with this game is… well, it’s not enough of a variation. There are five different tables with five different objectives, and all the tables have variables you can change, like scores, difficulty, et cetera. At the medium settings, I cleared the game within a half hour. Except… I don’t think you “clear” this game. Nothing unlocks, and nothing happens when you win. I’m still not entirely sure I’m not missing anything, but as you can see, there isn’t much to look at there.

I left the series at that for a couple years, not wanting to get burned on concept again, even though Dotstream looked cool, and Soundvoyager sure did sound cool. After seeing Bit.Trip Beat and lusting after a Wii like nobody’s business, I decided randomly to pick up Dotstream, because a few people told me that the games were related. These people had clearly never played Dotstream, or any of the bit Generations games, but that’s okay.

Dotstream wound up being the most fun. Once again, I had to look up how to play the game, because the controls aren’t intuitive (or rather, the game is so simple that you aren’t sure you’re playing it right), but this time, online documentation existed. It’s a pretty simple racing game. There are six cups, each with five races. You are racing against five other lines. Other than a limited number of boosts, you can’t manually accelerate. You gain speed by riding one pixel above or below a line that is in front of you, and you lose speed by turning. Turning also stops your acceleration, and it is possible to win races by turning less than the opponents. There is also a bonus arrange mode, where you control the lines in a formation using commands you win in the GP. In addition to the GP, you could play each of the five races in the cups in a spot race section.

This game was actually pretty fun. It only took me a day or three to beat it, but the races are pretty challenging without being cheap, the mechanics are simple, and there are unlockables, which is always rewarding. I didn’t play arrange mode very much, but I appreciate the fact it was there.

So what’s the verdict on bit Generations? I didn’t think they were very fun. I don’t need to play Coloris or Dialhex to know those two wouldn’t appeal to me, and while Soundvoyager could be really cool, I have a feeling I would be just as disappointed with it as I was with Boundish. Digidrive could go either way… but again, with the series scoring a 33% in my report card, I’ll just leave it at that. I would probably dismiss most of the Art Style games out of hand as well. The Bit.Trip series though… those look like more substantial, fun games. And I can tell you before I even play it that Bit.Trip Beat is awesome. Have fun with that, you lucky Wii owners.

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