First Impressions: BIT.TRIP SAGA (3DS)

BIT.TRIP goes 3D!

To say that the BIT.TRIP series has been a highlight of the WiiWare service would be a gross understatement. Their simplistic design and wildly playable nature have made for some of the most engaging gaming experiences on the service and continue to be among the most popular titles in the catalog. Now, the folks at Gaijin Games are taking the complete series and remaking them all for Nintendo's new 3DS system complete with a full 3D visual makeover and new play control schemes.

From the moment you begin playing BIT.TRIP SAGA that familiar playability springs to life. The same old-school charm is completely intact and while the visual makeup is very similar, the addition of the 3D depth really takes things to a whole new level. The games show a great degree of depth and it makes following the beats that you need to bounce back much easier to differentiate from things off in the distance.

Since the controls of the 3DS are quite a bit different from those found on the Wii, there are obviously going to be quite a few changes to the play control schemes. In games like BEAT and FLUX, the paddle is now controlled via moving the stylus up and down on the bottom touchscreen, although you can use the Circle Pad if you prefer it. While these stylus controls might sound a bit odd at first, it's surprisingly accurate and took no more than a couple of minutes to begin feeling as natural as tilting the Wii Remote.

For the titles that feature a more standard control method like RUNNER and CORE, the D-pad and buttons worked like a charm and were easily the most familiar of the package. I was blazing through RUNNER in no time, still taking time to admire how amazing the visuals looked in 3D along the way. And given the level of polish in CORE, it was great to see how well Gaijin Games were able to adjust the varying layers of depth to make the beats stand out from the other visual touches in the levels.

Given the limited time I had with the package, I was only able to play VOID and FATE for a couple of minutes, but they too featured all of the classic gameplay and unique visuals of the WiiWare originals. VOID has you moving around via the Circle Pad and FATE uses the Circle Pad to move along the rail, while using the stylus to control the direction of your cannon fire. Much like the other titles that use the touchscreen, it only takes a short amount of time to become acclimated to the control differences.

All of the classic chip tune musical tracks make a return, as do the many unique sound effects that have become such a staple of the series; of course if something works, why mess with a good thing? In truth the 3D makeover was enough to give the game's new life and the ability to take the games on the go is yet another fun bonus.

It was difficult to imagine what the BIT.TRIP games would look and control like on the 3DS system, but it didn't take more than a few minutes to see that the developers at Gaijin Games knew exactly what they were doing. The games really came to life on the 3D screen and the new controls were as tight and intuitive as ever. Whether you already own the titles on WiiWare or not, this is definitely a package that deserves consideration and really has to be seen in action to be fully appreciated. Gaijin Games continues to amaze with their creativity and ingenuity, and BIT.TRIP SAGA is yet another shining example of that.

A special thanks to Alex Neuse and the guys at Gaijin Games for taking time out of their busy schedule to allow us to take BIT.TRIP SAGA for a spin.

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