Game Review


USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Don't avoid the VOID

The third release (of six) in Gaijin Games' BIT.TRIP series has quite a bit in common with its predecessors. And that is a good thing. Even better, though, is just how much VOID manages to stand apart from its popular older brothers. Rather than striving to recapture their specific glories, VOID charts territory of its own. And while the theme and mood of the game might feel familiar, there is no doubting that VOID is a distinct entity all to itself.

In VOID, the control mechanism changes once again. This time you are required to use a control stick (your choice of Nunchuk or Classic Controller) to manoeuvre a circular black puck (the "void") around the screen, scooping up black beats and avoiding the white ones. For each black beat you absorb, your void will increase in size and your scoring potential will swell as well...but your movement will also become gradually more sluggish, making it more difficult to get out of the way of those pesky white ones.

Because of this, you can press (A) at any time to restore your void to its original size. You will also return to your original size if you collide with a white beat, but this latter method will strip you of your multiplier and kick you just a little closer to the dreaded Nether region.

This secondary aspect of the game to keep in mind — the governing of size — adds a surprising amount of strategy to the gameplay. In BEAT and CORE, there were really only two possibilities in any given situation: you either connected with the beat, or you missed it. In Void you will find that your size when connecting with beats can affect your score, along with either making it easier to connect with certain beats or impossible. It's a whole other element to consider as you play, and for such a simple mechanic, it sure turns out to be pretty engrossing.

Another interesting thing about this game is that you have much greater freedom regarding when (and how) you collect the beats. You are not confined in any way to one area of the screen; you can roam freely, grabbing beats in any sequence that you like. If you miss one, you can try to catch up to it again. You can discover more efficient patterns of collection that will increase your score, or you can locate a safe spot on the screen and wait until a particularly complex wave organizes itself into something more easily handled. It's your choice, and that's a welcome first for this series.

Void is also the first BIT.TRIP game to offer checkpoints throughout each of its levels. Each of the three songs that you play through is broken up into four segments. At each checkpoint, your score is adjusted based on how well you played (with a very generous bonus given for a perfect run) and how many credits you have remaining.

You begin each song with one credit, but can earn more with a high enough score. If you end up failing a level, you can cash in a credit to begin from the last checkpoint. (Prepare, however, to feel your heart sink as your score is siphoned away as well.) While these credits and checkpoints might threaten to make the game a little too easy, they don't; this might be the easiest BIT.TRIP game yet, but the challenge is still there, and it is still often brutal.

The checkpoints, however, are a bit of a mixed blessing. Yes, they might sometimes allow a struggling player to limp a little further through a level than he or she normally might, but they require a momentum-breaking pause in the action, a moment of dullness between barrages of complicated beat patterns while your score is adjusted. It interferes with experiencing the songs as continuous, fluid entities, and that's unfortunate. Also, the requirement for earning extra credits is so difficult to reach that if you are earning them, you're almost certainly playing so well that you don't need them.

Another mild complaint is that there is no clear visual indicator of how close you are to slipping into the Nether region...nor is there any indicator of how long it will take you to climb out. As such, the time spent in Nether feels more like an arbitrary punishment than a rational consequence. It's disheartening to spend so much time in Nether without realizing how close you are to escaping it...or even how close you are to failing the level completely.

But these complaints are minor and they are both understandable. (In the case of the former, fans have been clamouring for checkpoints since BEAT was released; in the case of the latter, it's a stylistic choice, allowing the screen to remain as open and uncluttered as possible.) Overall, one really does have to get picky in order to find fault with the game.

The three songs included are as pulsing and catchy as ever and a perfect inducement to replay previous levels even if you don't particularly care about getting better scores. What's more, the ability to hit beats at a pace of your own choosing can affect the sound and feel of the song, and, as you get better, you will find yourself deliberately holding back or chasing down certain beats as though you're actually directing the melody. (The percussive blast you get from shrinking with (A) also makes for a satisfying addition to certain movements of the songs.)

In all, the very small issues we might have with the game are more than outweighed by the tightness of the controls, the gorgeous naturalness of the patterns, the unrivaled brilliance of the soundtrack, and the sheer obsessiveness that VOID is bound to inspire in its audience. VOID is a firm contender for best title in WiiWare's strongest original series, and that's a distinction worth holding.


Every few months a BIT.TRIP game is released, and it reminds us all of what's so great about WiiWare: It's original, it's inexpensive and it's fun. VOID is a perfect addition to the BIT.TRIP series and is, arguably, the best of the batch so far, retaining the addictive charms of the previous two titles while carving out a strong and unique identity of its own.

Instead of releasing the same game over with minor refinements and new songs, Gaijin Games has given each of the BIT.TRIP titles a strong, singular presence of its own. VOID is evidence that these boys know what they're doing, and it manages to raise an already high standard for titles to follow.

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User Comments (42)



Toddr said:

This might be the first Bit Trip game I get. Beat was way too hard, and Core didn't look very fun.

(saying "first" was not me trying to piss people off, this would be my first one.)



Corbs said:

I've enjoyed this Bit.Trip release. It's even better than Beat, which I didn't think would happen.



vakama94 said:

@VGM: you are not alone , anyway, i didnt need the review but its good to see you guys liked it



Paperclip said:

Excellent review! It was very informative. I loved the first two Bit. Trip. games, and I can't wait to download this one = D



StarBoy91 said:

Excellent review, Brutus! I liked Core and Beat, and judging from this review, it sounds just as fun as those two aforementioned titles.



skywake said:

I was skeptical about Void after Core. Beat was amazing but I lost interest in the series after Core didn't impress. Reading this review changes my mind a bit and I am really loving the look of those screenshots. I guess I'll have to grab this when it hits the Wii Shop here... along with Super Mario Kart.

I'm going to need some more points!



blutut said:

I just realized something. Chicken's reviews aren't nearly as good when he's not mocking the game he's reviewing. Rather boring in fact. I think NL should stick with giving Chicken the bad games.



Porky said:

You said "Another mild complaint is" then "But these complaints are minor", am I the only one who thinks that that's an error?



Syr said:

Great review, awesome game. I actually liked Core a lot too, I don't understand the complaints about it.. every game in the series has been fantastic, for that matter.

tbh, the bit.trip series is the thing which excites me most about being a wii owner, I can't wait to see what they come out with next!



sonic_brawler95 said:

Looks like you finally got to review a good game like you always wish you would, Brutus!

I might buy this some time in the future. It'll be my first Bit. Trip. game.



Sean_Aaron said:

I hope to get back to this (and all of the Bit.Trip games) at some point in the future. They're always good for a quick go now and then, which is perfect for an arcade junky like me.



Ryuuga said:

@15: OBJECTION!!! (sorry, I've been playing a lot of Phoenix Wright recently hahaha)

Hmm, I've lost interest in this series after core, but this game surely looks fantastic! I'm gonna get it as soon as I get points...



Andor said:

I loved Bit Trip Core, can't understand why people hate it.
Void is just as good as the other two, excellent game. The only thing that bored me a little is the difficulty, this one is way easier than the previous titles, even not considering the checkpoints.



Philip_J_Reed said:

For the record:

Void > Beat > Core

But I don't hate Core one bit. In fact, I think it's pretty awesome. It's just the weakest release in an extremely strong series.

"You said "Another mild complaint is" then "But these complaints are minor", am I the only one who thinks that that's an error?"

Not an error, just a synonym. I use those because it gets boring using/reading an identical phrase twice. Hope this helps.



GaBiii_Q said:

Am i the only one who doesn't like this game and finished every level on first try? I did not like the music neither the gameplay, nevertheless i finished it on first try and the last boss sucks :/
and my > would be: Core > Beat > Void. I hope i'm not the only one who thinks that way D:



primeris said:

I'm behind! Must get Void!
And I liked Core better than Beat, but not by much. I'm having fun with this series!



Ren said:

can't wait till I bump into 20 bucks or so and catch up on the greats like this one.



JoeDiddley said:

I couldn't even complete level 1 of Beat even though it was a great game. Because of this I avoided Core. But I am tempted again by Void. If I get Void I will probably get Core too to complete the series.



osb1842 said:

It's a good point you have about the lack of a visual mode meter (especially in Nether). We debated that one back n' forth for a long time. In the end, we let the super-minimal UI win out over mode/meter clarity. It fit the theme better, but still, unless you're watching the subtle background art change with modes (MEGA/SUPER/ULTRA), you'll be pretty baffled why you end up in Nether...



Corbs said:

Well this one deserved the 9. It's the best BIT.TRIP title to date. Great job guys!



Virus said:

I guess I stand amongst the very, very few on this one in the respect that I think this game is the weakest entry in the BIT.TRIP series yet. It's still a good game, like the other two, but there were a few blaring annoyances for me. Like Reed, I disliked my inability to discern when I would move up or down a region, and I too also felt like my shifts between the regions were rather haphazard.

My own biggest complaint was the bits are sometimes too hard to see. Beat had a minor problem with this, Core made it a bit worse, and Void currently has made it even worse. Perhaps I haven't gotten used to it, but even after subsequent play-throughs of the game, I still can't get past this annoyance despite my memorization of the levels. The control also doesn't feel as tight to me as it was in other games.

Again, I still like the game. The music is solid in the levels, the menu, and the credits (the best so far, methinks). I also like the game's concept, and I didn't mind the checkpoints either (even if I never really utilized them, instead opting to restart the level). Maybe I need to let the game sit a bit longer. Still, for me, Beat reigns supreme.



Brainhost said:

So why don't they throw this over to Europe...
I've recently purchased Core. I'm still not sure whether I like it more than Beat, but it's definitly more catchy because of the significance of the music. It's sooo much harder though, which makes it a slight drag. I'm not one to give up on a game due to its difficulty (I've played so much of Bit.trip Beat and MegaMan 9), so I'm gonna go on with it.



Capt_N said:

T-t-t-tripping the Beat*chorus repeats this 4x* There's your multipliers...

I'm definitely gonna need some points cards for Christmas. Btw, anyone who has yet to beat the Beat, don't feel like a poor gamer. I've owned Beat for a while now, & not only have I yet to beat(no pun intended here) it, but I still get destroyed mid-level 2, & have yet to unlock lvl 3. Like you, Brainhost, difficulty won't easily turn me from a game.

Btw, great review, as always. @ Corbie: Would you say this is only marginally better, or significantly better, than Beat?



Roo said:

Didn't particularly like the demo of Beat, but might give this a shot nevertheless...



Gizmo said:

For me Bit.Trip Void is the worst of the series so far. I don't like the music as much as the music from the first two games. Also I find Void too easy. I played through Level 1 & 2 without "dying", so my overall playtime was much lower than with Core and Beat.



SKTTR said:

VOID is my favourite in the series, especially with 3 or 4 players. So much fun being a screen-filling black hole, making it hard for the others to see themselves. Excellent multiplayer game.



ueI said:

After playing through BIT TRIP COMPLETE, I have to say that I greatly disagree with this score.

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