Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is the sequel to BIT.TRIPS’ original game that took gamers by storm. In this outing, we find our hero, Commander Video, and his team chasing the villainous Timbletot into Earth’s HyperSphere. As they are about to apprehend him/it, they are blasted with Timbletot’s Reality Unfusion Beam. Being the hero that he is, Commander Video takes the brunt of the beam to protect his teammates and is instantly transported into another dimension. Keenly aware that this is some sort of dastardly scheme by the maniacal Timbletot, Commander Video sets out to thwart these devious plans and make his way back to his own dimension.
Although Runner 2 is constantly moving, the basic premise of this game is rooted in the best platforming games of the past. As Commander Video, you must traverse levels full of obstacles such as aliens, blockades, stairs, fireballs and various terrain features in order to make it to the end of the levels. There are many cool abilities that Commander Video can call upon to make his way through each level such as jumping, sliding and kicking. The game does a great job of introducing these traditional platformer staples at a balanced pace so that the player never feels overwhelmed. Early on, you will only be presented with obstacles that simply need to be jumped over or slid under to get by, but as you get to later levels, the difficulty ramps up and you will need to make use of some of the Commander’s other abilities as well in order to make it to the finish line. Mastering these moves early on is important and will save much frustration when you make it to the later levels in the game where the difficulty is much higher.
Runner 2 boasts some of the coolest stylized graphics that I have ever seen in a video game. BIT.TRIP decided to drop the 8-bit inspired visuals for something more eye-grabbing. Although the cut scenes are done in a cool comic book style, the actual game visuals are very brightly colored with various textures and lighting. Wood has a grain pattern to it and metal is shiny or rusty. While most levels take place in the bright light of day, there are a few that are at night and the guys and gals at BIT.TRIP do a great job of using this to accentuate or highlight the features of the map. Fireballs will cast a bright glow over the landscape while taking Commander Video under certain structures will cast him into dark shadows. The onscreen elements all have a certain weight to them due to the color palette and the overall design and it helps to create a crazy, believable world full of mayhem and traps.
But it’s the music and sounds that really make Runner 2 one of the best platformers available today. The music that plays while traversing the different areas really helps to immerse you into the experience and it never gets boring. You will find yourself humming along even when you are on your tenth try at getting through a particularly sticky point in the game. It never gets old and never gets on your nerves. The sound effects are sometimes funny like when you bonk into an enemy or the chorus-like singing when you grab an in-game collectible. Collecting gold bars will trigger several melodic chimes and you even get a “clear” tone when you successfully make it by any number of the games baddies and obstacles. All musical aspects of this game seem to combine to create a symphony of sorts with the game providing the tempo and the player providing the rhythm to create an ambiance that really compliments the flow of the game.
Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is a fun romp through an alien landscape filed with colorful enemies and diabolical traps. It can be straight forward and inviting or frustrating and nerve-racking but there was never a time where I felt like giving up. There were points where I tried several times to get past a particular choke point and then on a final attempt I would make it through and get to the finish line. In most games, if I get to a point where I get stuck and can’t figure out how to proceed I will just give up. However, I never once felt that way while playing Runner 2. If you are the type that can appreciate a good challenge then this is the game for you. It’s not going to hold your hand the whole way but it will throw some vicious obstacles in your path. It will allow you to grow and figure out how to get past these obstacles and then to rejoice in what you have accomplished. It has a way of keeping you invested and trying over and over if possible because you just can’t let Timbletot ensnare Commander Video in this forsaken world. It’s a fun and challenging yet rewarding adventure that will keep you riveted until the final scene.