Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bit.Trip Beat - Second Song

Synesthesia is a term that's been thrown around quite a bit in regards to video games lately. Near as I can figure, it is usually used to refer to a game where playing the game itself creates music. Not in the Guitar Hero sense, but in the sense that something seemingly unrelated, like a spaceship shooting down bad guys adding to the melody of a musical piece. It's... hard to describe.

Much as Bit.Trip Beat is.

As regards to how it plays, that's pretty simple. It's like Pong. Or Breakout. Or Arkanoid. Or any game where you have to hit a ball with a paddle. The controls are ridiculously simple - tilt the Wii remote forwards and backwards to move the paddle up and down.

Meanwhile, various balls or pellets or whatever come at your paddle and you have to hit them back. Some come along a straight line, some bob up and down, and some even come back at your paddle after you hit them. In a lot of ways, the game feels to me like a bullet hell shoot-em-up. The patterns of dots coming toward your paddle require split second thinking and reflexes or just plain memorization.

Did I mention that while this is going on, you've got some incredible chiptunes-inspired music (think bleeps and bloops with a driving beat) and flashy backgrounds and colors and all things happening? I imagine it is what it would be like to play Breakout during an acid trip.

The game at its heart is trying to evoke an Atari-age aesthetic. The graphics consist mainly of thick, blocky art and the animation even involves ghosting as if you were playing it on an older television set. The use of Pong to create music is especially effective when you are close to game over as the music stops, the graphics turn black and white, and the only sounds are "pings" that come from the Wii remote when your paddle hits a ball.

There's a lot more I could say about this game, but I think I'll save it for potential future blog posts.

One thing I will points out is that the level of concentration my eyeballs and brain require to play this game destroys my eyes. After staring at moving large pixels and colors for ten minutes, it practically hurts me to look at a static image again without resting my eyes.

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