Voxel Runner

“Foul!” cried the gaming community.  “Someone made an off-brand, generic version of Bit.Trip 2 and released it right before Bit.Trip 2 came out.  A pox on their house!”  You see the same venom directed towards developers of Minecraft clones, or guys like Milkstone when they release cheap XBLIG clones of popular hits like Slender or Binding of Isaac.  The weird thing is, the gaming community seems to treat this phenomenon like it’s exclusive to them.  Um, The Asylum anyone?  Mock if you will, but they’ve made over fifty movies and never once lost money on a production.  They’ve proven that, if profitability is all you desire, clones made without the slightest tinge of shame are the surest fire bet to get there.

Yes.

Yes.

Voxel Runner sounds like it would be The Asylum’s port of a video game, does it not?  None of that coy “Sushi Castle” type of shit like Milkstone does.  “Voxel Runner!  Done!”  The funny thing is, everyone assumed that the game would be shit, myself included.  Timely release.  Blatant clone.  How could it be good?  Surprise, it is good.  Well, good seems maybe too generous.  How does decent sound?  I’ll go with decent.

Actually, Voxel Runner felt more like The Impossible Game, at least to me.  Maybe it was the art style, the pace, the spikes, or the constant deaths.  While the game offers more complex maneuvers (swiped liberally from Bit.Trip Runner) than simply jumping, it just felt like a memory-tester where you have a minimal chance of success on your first run through.  However, I did beat level 22 on my first attempt.  That was the only such level I was able to do that, but it felt fantastic.  It doesn’t matter if I failed 531 other times.  For a few seconds, I was an invincible destroyer of games.

Yes, because "ducking" is one of the most notoriously difficult to master moves in game history.  It makes Zangief's spinning piledriver look like child's play.

Yes, because “ducking” is one of the most notoriously difficult to master moves in game history. It makes Zangief’s spinning piledriver look like child’s play.

This is a weird one to write-up.  Everything about Voxel Runner is decent.  Not great.  Not memorable.  I played this three days ago and I barely remember any critiques I had.  It’s possible I didn’t have any.  Well, there was one: the controls are slightly unresponsive at times, which resulted in about 10% of my total failures.  Otherwise, there’s really not a lot to cover here.  Voxel Runner is a shameless rip-off of a popular franchise, but it doesn’t suck.  If that’s all the developer was trying for, congratulations Captain Ambitious.  Take a seat in the dollar store hall of fame, next to a bin of movies starring Lorenzo Lamas and a can of expired off-brand chicken noodle soup.

xboxboxartVoxel Runner was developed by Dizzy Pixels Ltd.

Seal of Approval Large80 Microsoft Points look forward to future productions from Dizzy Pixels, such as Super Italian Brothers, Sonny the Hedgehog, and Street Brawler II in the making of this review. 

Voxel Runner is Chick Approved.. don’t look at me like that, it doesn’t suck, I swear.. and is ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick LeaderboardSeriously, stop looking at me.

Voxel Runner is also available for Desura for $2.99.  This version is unverified by Indie Gamer Chick.

Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

First off, I have to ask what is up with that name?  Or Wii U eShop names in general it would seem.  When I picked up Bit.Trip Runner 2, I also picked up a title on sale called “Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition.”  If one didn’t know better, they would think the eShop was compensating for a lack of girth.  The Wii U has only been out for a little while, but it the gap between releases that have looked like something I would want to play has been demoralizing.  And no, I wasn’t interested in The Cave.  Thank God for my lack of interest.  I didn’t buy it on Wii U and now I get it free this month on PlayStation Plus.  Life is sweet.  Probably would have been sweeter if I had held out for the PSN version of Bit.Trip 2 and gotten the 20% discount.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m stalling my announcement that I haven’t actually played any games in the Bit.Trip series.  Yea, yea, I know.  What can I say?  They’re billed as “rhythm games.”  Not exactly my favorite genre.  The whole Caribbean Beats thing seems to have skipped a generation.  Possibly two generations if my parents are any indication.  I’m honestly not sure if what they do is considered dancing or some new form of mixed martial arts where the object is to break your opponent’s foot.  As it turns out, you don’t really need have a song in your heart to enjoy Bit.Trip Runner 2.  Weird that they would market it that way.  You would think they wouldn’t want to turn off people who couldn’t possible give a shit less about rhythm games.

Don't worry, a little Lyclear will take care of that.

Don’t worry, a little Lyclear will take care of that.

The idea is you’re Commander Video, a dude running in a straight line, collecting gold bars and avoiding enemies.  All stages have a set musical beat, but I typically played Runner 2 muted and I still had a pretty good time with it.  Relying completely on visual cues, I was still able to play the fairly well.  It helps that the controls are responsive and the graphics are mostly clear.  There are some times that enemies seem to bleed into the background.  Playing on a big screen doesn’t help, either.  Having your television on is completely unnecessary.  It’s yet another Wii U game that tethers you to your living room for no fucking reason at all.  If only Nintendo had put out a cheaper, more portable gaming console with a similar button layout.  I know, keep dreaming the dream, Catherine.

Every single complaint I have about Bit.Trip is tied to how shitty the Wii U Game Pad is.  I know Nintendo fanboys are still trying to convince themselves that something good might come from this mess, but come on guys.  This console is an unmitigated piece of shit.  I’ll ignore how slow it is, or how menus have load times, or how fucking cumbersome the controller is.  Why is the button layout for Bit.Trip 2 so random?  B is the jump button.  That’s just weird.  And it gets annoying too.  Everyone always reaches for the jump button to navigate menus.  Of course, B is typically “exit menu.”  Bit.Trip runner chose not to be different here.  Thus, after beating a level, I would inevitably push the wrong button and exit out of the level select screen.  A quick survey of people who bought this confirms that EVERYONE did it at least a few times.  Perhaps this is some social experiment where the guys at Gaijin Games are trying to make the entire gaming populace act like morons.  Too late guys!  Microsoft already did that.  They called it Xbox Live.

Seriously though, the layout is just not comfortable early on.  You do get used to it, I suppose.  Of course, they say people who get their arms blown off get used to that eventually too.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to play chicken with a live grenade.  Ignoring all that bullshit, the levels are well designed and the difficulty seems pretty well paced.  Bit.Trip 2 gives you a lot of different moves to memorize and perform.  I figured it would be too much to juggle.  It’s not.  In fact, I was so successful at adapting that I would sometimes, rarely, finish a stage on my first try without dying.  Not a huge accomplishment for most, granted.  For me?  I felt world conqueringly amazing.

Then I would press the wrong button and exit the stage select screen.  Those moments never last.

I thought this was a screenshot of Adventure Island when I first saw it.  No joke.

I thought this was a screenshot of Adventure Island when I first saw it. No joke.

So yea, I recommend Bit.Trip Runner 2.  It’s fun, and it’s as good an excuse as any to prevent dust from collecting on your shiny new Nintendo console.  My biggest complaint about Bit.Trip is that Wii U is the wrong machine for it.  I never wanted to play more than thirty minutes of Bit.Trip at a time before walking away.  Not in a bad way.  I just noticed after extended play-sessions that the amount of fucking up I was doing would climb dramatically.  I finished it in short bursts and enjoyed the game much more thoroughly.  I even tried to replay some of the levels to get perfect scores.  Games like this are perfectly tailored for portable devices.  There’s really no reason why I should have been shackled to a fifteen-foot radius around my television set.  The 3DS is right fucking there, and Bit.Trip doesn’t seem so graphically intensive that it just had to be done on a state of the art console like the Wii U.  And no, I couldn’t type the end of that last sentence with a straight face.

Bit Trip logoIGC_ApprovedBit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien was developed by Gaijin Games

$14.99 is proud of Gaijin Games for resisting the urge to have a stage set to the tune of the theme from Chariots of Fire in the making of this review.

Bit.Trip Runner 2 is Chick Approved.  Stay tuned tomorrow for my review of the off-brand, generic XBLIG version, Voxel Runner.

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