With the upcoming release of Gajin Games' BIT.TRIP CORE WiiWare title on Monday, we thought it was time to get in touch with the ever-insightful CommanderVideo, aka Alex Neuse, CEO of Gaijin Games, to find out what we can expect from their second BIT.TRIP release.
As usual, Alex was as candid as ever, and he seems about as excited as we've ever seen him when the conversation turns to his newest WiiWare release that will be hitting the North American WiiWare service on Monday, July 6th at a cost of 600 Nintendo Points. You can check out what he had to say on the subject in our full-length interview below.
Nintendo Life: How long was BIT.TRIP CORE in development?
Alex Neuse: We started BIT.TRIP CORE the moment that BIT.TRIP BEAT was wrapped up, and CORE was in development for about 3 months.
NL: You've mentioned in other interviews that Imagic's Cosmic Ark game was fairly influential in your design of BIT.TRIP CORE. How so?
AN: As I work on the concepts for gameplay for each of the BIT.TRIP games, I start thinking about 2600 games that may have done something similar. Since we’re drawing inspiration from the classics, we want to make sure that our gameplay always feels like it might have been possible back then. Knowing that I wanted to go with a two-axis gameplay style with a rigid character in the center of the screen led me back to the Imagic classic. After the team played a lot of Cosmic Ark, we had tons of ideas on how to shape our game into what would eventually become BIT.TRIP CORE.
NL: Can you tell us a little bit about the gameplay in the game?
AN: The game uses the +Control Pad and 1 & 2 Buttons. Since we wanted this game to be more precisely rhythm-based, we made it so that you have to blast the beats on time with the music as they cross one of your Beat Lines (which extend out from the CORE in the center of the screen). Pressing a direction on the +Control Pad highlights one of your Beat Lines (so you can predict where and when the Beats are going to cross), and tapping the 2 Button activates the Beat Line with a Beam, destroying passing Beats. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, you also have a once-per-level screen clearing Bomb that you can use by tapping the 1 Button.
NL: What controller is used for this game?
AN: BIT.TRIP CORE uses the Wii Remote held like an NES controller.
NL: What about BIT.TRIP CORE do you think will make it stand out from BIT.TRIP BEAT?
AN: The control scheme and gameplay style is a lot more modern than it is in BEAT, and I think that’s going to be one of the biggest features that sets CORE aside from the first game. For the musically inclined, there is a noticeable difference in the aural landscape as well, and that could be a big factor for folks who really dig the tunes. Above all else, though, I think the fact that the gameplay is drastically different is going to be what sets CORE apart from BEAT.
NL: Does the musical rhythm still play a part in the overall gameplay?
AN: BIT.TRIP CORE is more precisely rhythm/music based than BIT.TRIP BEAT was. BEAT had you playing alongside the music, passively contributing to its themes, whereas CORE has you playing to the precise beat of the music, making it a more rhythmically active game.
NL: One complaint of BIT.TRIP BEAT was the way the difficulty tended to ramp up rather quickly, even early on in the game. How does the difficulty curve in CORE compare?
AN: The difficulty curve in BIT.TRIP CORE tends to be mostly wrapped up in the concept of Beats coming at you from 8 directions at once. It is completely bonkers on the brain the first 3 – 5 tries. However, I will divulge a small pro-tip here. In level 1, we introduce many patterns that are used throughout the rest of the game (in varying degrees of difficulty), so it’s good to pay attention to what’s happening early on.
NL: Is there any online play modes in BIT.TRIP CORE or any plans to add online play to a future BIT.TRIP release?
AN: There are no online play modes in BIT.TRIP CORE, but there is local co-op support (which we jokingly call Easy Mode), just like in BIT.TRIP BEAT. Currently, there aren’t any plans to support online play in future BIT.TRIP games, but you never know. If it seems like the right thing to do, we may give it a shot down the road.
NL: Is there one particular aspect of the game that you're especially proud of?
AN: I think my biggest sense of pride comes from the fact that we have been able to satisfy a particular emotive theme through art, gameplay, and music. You’ll notice that CORE is a darker, more serious game. But these feelings are conveyed primarily through the player’s reactions to the restrictive gameplay, the lonesome background art, and the driving, deliberate beats. Obviously, the cutscenes also set the tone, but I would have to say that I’m very pleased with our ability to convey such emotions with such a simple-looking game.
NL: Are you finding the actual game development becoming easier now that you have a few titles under your belt?
AN: We are certainly hitting our stride and as a team, we pride ourselves on constantly learning as we go. So I would say that yes, we are definitely finding certain things easier. By the end of the series, we should be able to pound out a BIT.TRIP game in about 2 days. JK OMG LOL ROFL! We probably won’t ever streamline our process that much.
NL: How far along are you on the next BIT.TRIP title and can you give us a hint about what we can expect from it?
AN: We’re almost a third of the way through development on BIT.TRIP ????. It’s a little early for hinting, methinks, but you know we love Nintendo Life, so I’m sure you’ll be among the first round of hints that we unveil.
NL: In closing, is there anything you'd like to tell our readers about BIT.TRIP CORE?
AN: I’d like your readers to know that we appreciate all their support and well-wishing as we work on realizing our creative dreams. We hope that you continue to enjoy the games in the BIT.TRIP series. CORE is the second installment of CommanderVideo’s saga and I would challenge the fans to start speculating on what it all means. Like the Transformers, there’s more to CORE than meets the eye.
NL: Alex, we here at Nintendo Life would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
AN: It was my pleasure, Corbie. I always enjoy bouncing Word docs back and forth with you. One of these days we’re going to have to meet up in person and have a bona fide face-to-face. All right. Back to it! Good luck with CORE come Monday! I’m a day-one purchase myself.
I've assured Alex that the next interview we do with Gaijin Games will be in person. I want to especially thank Alex for doing this interview at the last minute and for getting it back to us so quickly. -cd