First Impressions: BIT.TRIP FATE

We take the game for a spin in space

The folks at Gaijin Games have already brought us four amazing BIT.TRIP releases that take many of the classic arcade elements from days gone by and somehow make them relevant again with their unique music/rhythm gameplay twists. We've seen classic influences ranging from the original Pong all the way up to David Crane's legendary Pitfall. Now with their newest title BIT.TRIP FATE, they've once again ventured out into a new genre, but still somehow been able to keep the magic of the past releases in the series perfectly intact.

Leaving behind the platforming of BIT.TRIP RUNNER, BIT.TRIP FATE vaults our favorite hero CommanderVideo into an all out classic arcade shoot 'em up. Not only does he have a wide range of firepower at his disposal, but his enemies are packing some pretty impressive ammunition as well. You'll have to guide CommanderVideo along a rail, taking out enemies and collecting the plus sign hearts that they drop in order to ramp up your level and make it through to the boss fight at the end.

Since CommanderVideo is attached to the rail as he moves through each of the game's levels, you'll only be able to move him forward or backward along the rail by pressing left or right on the analog stick. Much like a bullet hell shooter, he'll move faster when he's not currently firing his weapon, but will move much more slowly and deliberately when you're holding down the fire button. This slower movement can make weaving in and out of heavy sprays of curtain fire much easier and more precise.

CommanderVideo also has plenty of firepower at his disposal. Using the Wii Remote places a targeting reticle on the screen that controls the direction CommanderVideo will fire his cannons. You can then use the Nunchuk to move him along the rail while using the Wii Remote to aim your cannon fire. Players looking for a more traditional control method can also use the Classic Controller. This allows you to move CommanderVideo along the rail using the left analog stick and fire his cannon in all directions by using the right analog stick. Both methods work equally well, so it will likely come down to personal preference as to which control method you choose.

As you move through each level, you'll face an almost endless barrage of enemies and their bullets coming at you. You'll have to carefully balance your cannon fire with those times when you'll need to lay off of the fire button in order to move along the rails more quickly to avoid the many bullets coming your way. For times when you find yourself getting a bit overwhelmed, the game will sometimes even toss you a little help in the form of a character power-up.

There are four types of power-ups in the game and the power-up icons constantly cycle through the four character types so you can generally choose which one you pick up if you time it correctly. Meat Boy will give your cannon fire a big upgrade and turns your bullets into huge beams that will take out any enemies and the firepower that gets in its path. Junior Melchkin adds four laser beams that are fairly powerful, but can be a bit difficult to hit targets with in a pinch. CommandgirlVideo basically makes your cannon fire in all directions and can be very useful for those times when the screen is blanketed with enemies. And last, but certainly not least, is Mr. Robotube. He gives your cannon a swirling type of firepower that covers a wide area and is fairly potent, something that comes in quite handy in taking out some of the stronger enemies in the game, especially if they're bunched together in close proximity to one another.

The levels are extremely long, so you'll have your hands full navigating your way through them. Even the early levels feature the trademark BIT.TRIP difficulty, so you're going to have to put some time in if you're going to beat them. If you're able to make it to the end of the level, a boss fight awaits you and this is where the challenge gets even more difficult. The bosses range from large stationary targets, to bosses that will move around the screen and must be avoided at all costs. You'll have to be quick on the rail, not to mention deadly accurate with your firepower if you're going to beat these bad boys and that's if you can find their weakness in time.

Gaijin Games have once again crafted an exotic visual and musical experience to wrap around yet another fantastic gameplay design. As solid and engaging as the platforming aspects were in RUNNER, the shooter mechanics of FATE are equally challenging and addictive. It's clear that the guys at Gaijin Games are in perfect tune with how to keep coming up with unique and interesting gameplay ideas to inject CommanderVideo into, and FATE carries on the tradition of simple, yet maddeningly enjoyable gaming experiences the BIT.TRIP series has become so famous for. If you love the BIT.TRIP series, this one should now be sitting atop your must-have list and if you're not a fan, this one might just change your mind.