Video Game Review: ‘BIT.TRIP VOID’

Glenn Harris | Video Game Editor

Gaijin Games initially released “BIT.TRIP VOID” as WiiWare in Japan in 2009. Since then, it has moved to North America and Europe, the 3DS, and finally to the PC (Steam) late last quarter. The player controls a floating black blob—a void—in this pixelated, two dimensional ’80s world, aiming to hit black “beats” (pixels) while avoiding white ones, which reset the player’s combo.

So how does “BIT.TRIP VOID” handle the transition to the computer? Rather poorly. Immediately on launching the game, it feels like a cheaply made port, with poorly designed, difficult-to-navigate menus. Though the game is not graphically intense, there are few graphics options available, and changing them in the multi-colored menu is sometimes more difficult than the game itself. The loading times are also longer than they should be for such a light-weight (68 MB) game. Once they finally start, players will be frustrated by the exceptionally laggy controls. The amount of lag is particularly damaging to a bullet hell game such as this; the player can expect to miss many black beats and get hit by the white ones simply because his black blob simply did not move when he pressed the proper key. Even the concept itself of guiding the blob around seems more suitable for a mobile operating system and never feels quite right on the computer. On the plus side, Gaijin’s addition of a leaderboard should please critics who initially decried its absence.

The concepts of the game, which were praised upon its initial release, are still relatively solid. The music motif is intriguing but suffers from poor execution: the music and backgrounds lend the game a club feel, which is fun for about five minutes, after which it seems boring. Picking up beats does not add to the music—it detracts and fails to create any melody. “BIT.TRIP VOID” provides enough variation to keep the game from becoming boring. The game is challenging, in part due to the black beats blending into the ever-changing background. Boss battles are a nice addition, even if the “story,” introduced by a brief cut scene before each level, feels entirely contrived, forced and silly.

While “BIT.TRIP VOID” has the charm of an indie game, it has the flaws of one as well. For a rhythm game, the music is repetitive and poor. The difficulty is artificially high because of the frustrating, gimmicky aesthetics and poorly responsive controls. Fans should stay away from this Steam port.

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