Bit.Trip Beat review: How Jerry Garcia saw Pong

What the fuck

What the fuck

Gaijin Games’ latest WiiWare release Bit.Trip Beat, the first in a promised series of psychadelic Atari 2600-style experiences, is the love child of Rez and acid-soaked Pong. Itʼs an homage to pre-button gameplay days and is a fantastic fit for Nintendoʼs downloadable WiiWare service.

You control a paddle on the left. A barrage of blocks comes from the right and itʼs your job to bounce them back. Bleeps and bloops sound in tune with the music when your paddle hits a block. Successful hits fills up a meter that, once full, takes you up a level and makes the visuals and music crazier. Miss too many and the music stops, bleeps eep out of the Wiimote speaker and colors devolve into black and white while you work to get back to the base level.

Controls are tight and based on rotating the sideways-held Wiimote back and forth. You can press buttons to elicit some neat sounds, but they do nothing for gameplay. Graphically, sometimes more is less. While the game is a triumph of reanimating decades-old design with lush colors and interesting concepts, higher levels are eager to throw a mess of colors your way, which can throw you off at crucial times. Add some dark blocks with gnarly attack patterns and youʼve got yourself something that feels like good olʼ bullet hell.

You could slam it for being short (an adept player could conquer its three levels in under an hour), but that wouldnʼt really be fair. Like arcade games, Beat doesnʼt care about length. The mere three tracks are pretty long, perhaps too long to keep your eyes afloat, but are endlessly replayable, and score junkies will lather-rinse-repeat to scratch another three letters on the board. At an asking price of 800 Wii Points, or $8, it’s more than enough bang for your space-bucks.

Worth it.

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