Game Review


USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

BIT.TRIP for your trip

It's impossible to deny just how successful Gaijin Games has been at capturing the old-school flavor of video games from our past and their ability to mould those sensibilities with modern technology. Their BIT.TRIP series has spawned some of the most popular downloads available on WiiWare and is now making a go at retail consumers via Wii and 3DS collections. BIT.TRIP SAGA on 3DS offers up all six BIT.TRIP titles, adds in the depth of a 3D presentation and packages the titles into one release that gamers can now take with them wherever they go.

Unlike BIT.TRIP COMPLETE on Wii, which includes 120 new challenges to take on, BIT.TRIP SAGA offers up only games and levels found in the original WiiWare releases. Even the menu layouts, for the most part, are the same. All six games are unlocked from the start, but you will have to play through each game's levels in order, just as you would in the originals. And while there are no online leaderboards either, SAGA does have a few new twists to offer.

The BIT.TRIP series has always been about old-school gaming conventions. From the Pong-influenced BEAT and FLUX to the side-scrolling platforming of RUNNER, each game has its own unique gameplay design. And while these techniques have been relegated to the Wii Remote and Nunchuk in the past, the 3DS brings a whole new set of control schemes to the table, something that offers a rather nice twist for gamers who've already enjoyed the games on WiiWare.

BEAT and FLUX are the games that feature the most radically different controls. And while this might scare some people off, you'll be surprised at just how well the touchscreen works with them. Sliding the stylus up and down on the touchscreen offers a type of precision that feels very natural from the start and allows you the freedom to move around to different parts of the screen in order to find a comfortable spot to use. The developers have even tossed in the ability to use the Circle Pad, but this turn out to be more for novelty effect than any type of functional play control scheme.

CORE and RUNNER turn out to be the most familiar to the WiiWare releases, making use of the D-Pad and action buttons to execute their controls. So while you might not be getting the variation of the other games in the package, it's nice to know that the developers didn't try to fix something that wasn't broken and it really pays off in the end.

VOID and FATE are the titles that tend to fall into the middle of the old and new play controls. VOID uses the Circle Pad for movement controls and the A button to "pop." While this sounds very similar to the Wii Remote/Nunchuk controls, the Circle Pad does give it a bit of a unique feel. FATE also uses the Circle Pad for movement, but this time puts aiming/shooting controls on the touchscreen. FATE is easily the game that takes the most getting used to of the group, but once you come to grips with the new control tweaks, it actually works quite well.

You can't help but be impressed with the job Gaijin Games has done in bringing these games to the 3DS. Even having to adapt the controls to the 3DS hasn't done anything to take away from the enjoyment the games all have to offer. If anything, it's probably made them even more interesting. Couple all of this with a simple and intuitive menu interface, and you've got a solid collection for fans to sink their teeth into.

For the most part, the visuals of the six games have remained pretty much the same. There are a few minor differences here and there, but you'd almost have to play the games side-by-side with the Wii releases in order to notice any real changes. The depth that 3D brings to the table does a great job of making it much easier to differentiate what graphical elements are off in the background and what elements are in the field of play in the foreground, addressing a common complaint of the originals. It is worth noting that there are some rather sluggish frame rates, especially in the later levels of RUNNER, something rather surprising considering how relatively simplistic these games appear. (It does seem to help to turn off the 3D if it becomes too bothersome for you.)

Fans who loved the WiiWare soundtracks will be thrilled to hear that nothing has been changed in the trip over. Everything from the musical tracks to the sound effects are all identical, and if even there were a game that screamed for headphones, it's this one. All six games sound absolutely incredible through headphones and, when coupled with the 3D presentation, offer an extremely captivating experience.


The argument can be made that maybe Gaijin Games should have included the new challenges found in COMPLETE, and the lack of multiplayer and online leaderboards is a bit disappointing, but the new 3D coat of paint and portability are still solid selling points and ones that help make this collection worth the money for fans of the series. The new control variations offer a fresh spin on the games, and despite looking absolutely amazing on the small screen of the 3DS, the frame rate issues do end up bringing down the overall experience a bit. Ultimately, BIT.TRIP is still one of the best gaming series to come out of this generation, but you can't help but feel that this 3DS compilation could have been better with a little more polish.

From the web

User Comments (86)



TeeJay said:

I wasn't aware online leaderboards were important enough to warrant a point off. I never used them. Anyway this game is going to be great. Now if a store will just sell it to me. Nobody has the thing



FonistofCruxis said:

@TeeJay I think he also took points off for the lack of multi-player and the challenges of the wii version as well as the framerate issues that he mentioned.



Stine said:

I was certain I'd rather have SAGA than COMPLETE for a while, but in the last few weeks I've begun to doubt that a little. Now I'm not sure what I want anymore.



TeeJay said:

@5 Yes I know, thus the other two points off. But I'm sure if leaderboards were there the game might have gotten an 8.

EDIT: Maybe not, now that I think about it. The combination of both lack of multiplayer AND leaderboards seemed to have both played a part in bringing down the score, so perhaps it would have had the same score regardless.



JonWahlgren said:

There were no online leaderboards in the WiiWare versions and they did pretty OK for themselves score-wise.



Philip_J_Reed said:

Need it. Thanks for the awesome reviews, Corbie. I'm interested in the Wii challenge levels, but I think portability is going to win this battle for my money.



skywake said:

The low framerates have me a bit worried. Sounds a bit like they didn't spend enough time optimising for the 3DS architecture....... although it's worth pointing out that these sort of games can be deceptively graphically intensive with all the particle effects.



TeeJay said:

@9 No no, definitely not. But I thought it would get at least an 8, maybe 9. Still a good review, though, and I'm getting the game.



HipsterDashie said:

@11 Indeed. RUNNER stutters a bit on my computer, which is a 2.6GHz dual core i5 with a 310M nVidia graphics card, and that can cope with games like COD and Amnesia fine!

Now, excuse me whilst I go back to twidling my thumbs, waiting for a European release.



Karakato said:

Well, the exclusion of online leaderboards and multiplayer doesn't bother at all, (No one I personally know owns a 3ds) and since I'm more of a handheld gamer and don't have a Wii I'll be getting this for sure even if it does have some framerate issues. This will look Glorious in 3D.



iphys said:

Hmmm, maybe I'll wait for a sale, assuming the game is ever actually available to buy.



ejamer said:

I'm not down on the game, and will probably buy the 3DS release to have the entire Bit.Trip series available on the go.

But multiplayer modes would've been awesome, and I can totally understand any disappointment that they are missing. Since this version of the games have fewer features than even the original WiiWare versions, it's not surprising that the score suffered a little bit. (However, portability and 3D graphics are still a big draw for me.)



sgotsch said:

I'll buy it as soon as it gets an European release. Portables > Home consoless, especially for this type of games. I so excited for these, do they even plan to bring them to europe?



Odnetnin said:

@zez Just like the good old days.

@TheReview Good job, review.

@TheScore I don't agree with you, score. So this is a collection of all six games, with the average NL score of all of them being 9/10. Since this is $2 less than buying them all on WiiWare individually, to start out with the score of this collection would be a 9/10.

The only two negatives this game has are the worse frame rate and lack of multiplayer. Considering the chances of running (no pun intended) into someone else with a copy of the game are next to none, and the fact that unless you live in New York or California it's hard to find someone for download play (assuming Gaijin would have/could have done download play which I doubt), I don't see why the lack of multiplayer is really a big deal at all. I certainly wouldn't take off an entire point for it. Granted, this site doesn't used a decimal system, but a #.5 or above would round to the next whole number.

The frame rate is a bigger issue, and if it really affected gameplay even with the 3D off (which I haven't been able to test for myself yet; my copy should arrive in a few long hours) I could see taking a point off for it. Assuming it's half a point off for the multi and a whole point off for the frame rate, that would make the score a 7.5/10, which would round up to an 8.

The game also has two new features which don't do anything but add to the game--portability and 3D. OK, so at times the 3D may cause the frame rate to slow down, which is not good, but it's COMPLETEly optional so it can't possibly be a minus (plus according to the review it helps with backgrounds). And regardless of whether the 3D's on or not, the 3DS's advanced shaders and pixel-by-pixel lighting or whatever make the game look prettier, according to reviews, Gaijin themselves, and video footage I've seen (once again I'll judge that for myself ASAP). And there's obviously nothing to complain about regarding portability--for many, including myself, it's a selling point.

I would value those new features (plus the cheaper price) at half a point, myself, so that would bump the score up to either an 8.5 or a 9 (with rounding) for me.

Unless Corbie really values 3DS multiplayer for some reason and doesn't like the games as much as the Nintendo Life average score (the latter of which I highly doubt), I just don't see this as a 7.

I'm not complaining; that's just how I feel.



Corbs said:

This is still my favorite of the two releases, but the framerate really drug it down for me. RUNNER is my favorite of the games, and it was a bit shaky in the last two worlds with the 3D turned on. If it bothers you, just turn the 3D off. This is still an outstanding series and now it's in portable form. Just wish it ran a little smoother.



Odnetnin said:

OK, fair enough. The Steam release of RUNNER has a lot of lag and that sort of makes it unplayable (plus keyboard controls are lame), but if turning the 3D off helps significantly I don't see much of a problem with it. That's how I feel--even though COMPLETE might have more content and be a better value, I just get so much more excited about BIT.TRIP in portabili3D. That's my personal stance.



V8_Ninja said:

Unless the frame-rate turns into that of a man who is trying to play Crysis on his netbook, I'm still buying this. Portable BIT.TRIP ftw.



HandheldGuru97 said:

I'll get this when I have the money. I don't play my Wii much any more so it makes a little more sense getting this one. And seeing that I have never played a game in this series the frame rate won't hurt me, I hope.



BalrogtheMaster said:

Hey Corbs, is the version you got the final version? Or is there a chance the final copy would have the framerates ironed out?



accc said:

That's a shame about the framerate drops in 3D. Nintendo really dropped the ball when they designed the 3DS hardware by not giving developers a way to minimize the performance hit when going from 2D to 3D



WolfRamHeart said:

Thank you for the review Corbs. Very helpful! I'm glad that I held out before ordering a copy from Amazon. I decided that I am going to get COMPLETE instead.



Corbs said:

I held the review for three days to wait and check the retail version of the game.



MaikoRULES said:

im really enjoying it. i would have thought 7.5/8

also, you guys do know you were quoted on the box!? at least in the NA version



hamispink said:

I'm not sure how you do your reviews Corbie, but I doubt that you start at 10 and start marking down for any issue in the games. I am surprised that the experience was brought down enough to warrant a 7, but that wouldn't, and didn't stop me from getting the game for myself
I would personally give it an 8 because the experience is still great for me, though multiplayer will be missed



Corbs said:

@hamispink - Despite it not being completely fair to compare the two, it's almost impossible not to. Both cost $40, both feature the same core games, and both were released on the same day. So inevitably, there were some comparisons between the two when it came to scoring.

The lack of the additional challenges, no online leader boards, the shaky framerate in some games with 3D turned on, and the elimination of multiplayer did play a role in the score going down a little bit. In the end, I felt like after giving COMPLETE a 9, a 7 was the right score for this one. But as I've said, on a personal level, SAGA is still my favorite as I like it on the small screen and being able to take it on the go.

On a side note, have you played through the third world of RUNNER yet with the 3D on?



Odnetnin said:

Just got it. After playing Transition I agree with Corbie for the most part. Notes: haven't experienced any frame rate hiccups yet, the Circle Pad is a joke, and I got a high score on Transition first try and the stylus feels just as good as the Wiimote in a different way, so Iz should still enjoy it.



hamispink said:

@Corbs I'm burning through the second world right now, I have noticed small little hiccups with 3d on, though you have me worried about the third world
I will be back to comment later tonight. . .as soon as I beat that darn lumberjack robot!



hamispink said:

@corbs WOW. . .first of all, I guess my memory is failing me, I remembered the boss with a plaid shirt and a stocking cap! Also, that frame-rate is near game-breaking. I can definitely understand why you gave it a seven, though I still think that the entire package is such a great experience that I would still give it an 8
Also in my first comment, I didn't mean that the two games shouldn't be compared, but that the review process likely didn't start at a perfect score, with one point taken off for every fault. Though what do I know?
I do have a feeling that the technical bugs could be a result of the fact that (as far as I know) gaijin games has only one programmer. That's a lot of work for one man to port 6 games over to a brand new console in a short amount of time.



Odnetnin said:

@hamispink If you're referring to the way I scored it, I started with a 9 not a 10 because that's the average NL score for BIT.TRIP.



Corbs said:

Yeah hamispink, I certainly don't find the framerate thing game-breaking by any stretch. But it did hamper the overall experience for me, especially since RUNNER is my personal favorite game. It's still a wonderful game compilation of some amazing games. But I just felt like I had to knock it down a bit for those issues. My gut said 7, so that's what I went with.



Corbs said:

Hold on a sec, my gut is talking..."Corbs: You want me to ban Oddy?" Hmmm, it appears the gut doesn't like you.



Wheels2050 said:

Umm, I think some of you are possibly misunderstanding the review process. I don't think NL (or many review publications, in fact) start at a score of 10 and take off points for specific things. There's not some formula that says:

Nice Graphics: No Change
Bad Graphics: -1 point
Multiplayer: No Change
No Multiplayer: -1 point


It's a score arrived at after playing the game, weighing it up against other experiences and ultimately deciding on what it's worth out of 10. If you think of it as 'taking points off' you're not quite getting how it works.



SunnySnivy said:

A seven? I was expecting an 8 or 9... regardless I'm still picking this up since I have heard good things about the titles separately. Or, maybe I'm just desperate for a new 3DS game.



Odnetnin said:

@Wheels2050 I get that, but you would agree that if the games were exactly the same as the WiiWare versions, this collection would probably get the average NL score of 9/10, right (considering the price is almost same)? There are a couple of things not as good as the WiiWare versions, so that would mean the score might be a little bit lower, right? I'm just saying based on how I value the different pluses and negatives, I think the review reads about an 8.5 or a 9, personally.



Wheels2050 said:

@Oddy: No, I wouldn't, because this is a re-release of games that are up to 2 years old with no real additions, apart from 3D (the value of which will vary from person-to-person, but it doesn't mean a lot to me).

Compare this with COMPLETE which has all the added extras and this falls short of the mark in my opinion. (Especially as they are the same price).

I believe that when reviewing games, competing products and experiences must also be taken into account. I believe if you do that, SAGA just isn't worth a 9/10.

Having said that, reviewing is a subjective thing and while I agree with the review (with the qualifier that I haven't actually played SAGA) I have no problems with you rating it higher.



Odnetnin said:

@Wheels2050 OK, I have nothing to argue with that.

I just think the score communicates that it's not as worth $40 as I believe it is, but I understand that taking COMPLETE into account could affect the score. The bottom line is I just want people to know how good it is and not say "7, pass."

The two years old thing applies, but only to an extent because the games haven't really aged a day since their release.

But really these are all little personal things that I shouldn't try to argue with others, I guess.

Destructoid gave SAGA an 8.5 and COMPLETE a 10, which more along my line of thinking, score-wise.



Wheels2050 said:

@Oddy: All good points, too.

As for people passing it up because of a 7, that's really a problem with the way the industry views review scores (and just looking at review scores and not actually reading it is just as important, although a different problem altogether). For most sites I visit a 5 is nominally (i.e. according to their scoring policy) an average game with anything above that worthy of consideration, but unfortunately people seem to take an 8 to be 'average'. That's a huge problem.

For the benefit of anyone who may only look at the number at the bottom of the review, this is what it means: (from the NL scoring policy page)

"7 - Good
A seven is not average in our eyes. This game will sport a few areas where the game is blatantly let down to the detriment of its overall quality and enjoyment, but it is NOT average. A seven is still a recommendation, but you might want to consider what we thought let the game down and decide for yourself if it would bother you before buying."

That's not a bad score by any means, and reading the review would hopefully give enough information for someone to make a decision.



wanderlustwarrior said:

Someone may have asked the following, but I didn't notice:

When I play runner for a while on Wii, I get so focused that when I step away from the game, everything in my field of vision seems to scroll/move to the right for a second to catch up. Does anyone else get that? And then the relevant question, if someone else gets that, does that seem any different when playing in 3D?

I don't really have any plans to get this version, but I'd like to know the answer regardless. I was just playing RUNNER in complete and it happened, and now I'm curious.



Corbs said:

Since when do people pass on a 7? And I said in the review that it was worth the money for fans of the series. These are amazing games and worth the price for fans who love the games and want to be able to take them on the go.



Wheels2050 said:

@Corbs: Have you heard the fuss over a couple of sites that gave Gears of War 3 an 8/10? Cliffy B referred to them, and I quote, as "haters".

There's something wrong there.



BulbasaurusRex said:

@55 Because it sounds like the Wii version is the way to go, that is, if I actually liked the Bit.Trip games. Most people are only going to buy a Bit.Trip collection once, and the Wii has the clearly superior version. Being able to play them on the go isn't worth another $40.



Corbs said:

As I said in the preview, if you're only going to get one, COMPLETE is the way to go. I was speaking of people who would just pass on the game entirely because of the score, not because they chose COMPLETE instead.



Tethers said:

@ criticism about the score: WTF?

SAGA has NO multiplayer, NO difficulties-option, NO online features, NO challenges, and NO constant framerate, and some of you really want to argue about the score difference to COMPLETE? O_o

P.S.: And portability isn't a feature of a game, but of a system...



shoopdawoop70 said:

I'm deciding to buy neither or them. I was planning on getting the 3ds vesion, but then i saw the score.....



Blaze said:

I hope this comes to the UK, at least then I'd be occupied until importing Kirby Mass Attack from America.



Odnetnin said:

@fishman100 If you buy it from aksysgames.com it is.

@L_Brown First of all, I wasn't comparing it to COMPLETE in any way. I already explained why I don't feel like multiplayer is a big deal at all, the next three things were never in the originals, you can't say "NO constant framerate" when you haven't played the game yourself and it only really affects a fraction of the game, and that's only with 3D on. Also, I know that portability isn't a game-specific feature, but my point remains that for me it makes the games more enjoyable.

@Corbie As Wheels points out, it's more a misinterpretation thing for some people like @shoopdawoop70. I guess thing is you're rating it as a collection and I totally agree with the score for that, but at the same time I want people to know that quality of the games is even better than a 7.



theblackdragon said:

@Oddy: We get your unbridled love for these games, but please, you've said enough in this comment thread. Please take any further points you have to make regarding the collection score versus their WiiWare scores to the forums if you still feel the need to get things off your chest, or (if you truly feel strongly about the scores) take it directly to the admins if you prefer. :3



Odnetnin said:

@TBD This will be my last comment on this review. If I feel like someone is calling me out/specifically talking to me about something or asking me a question, I feel obliged to respond. After my initial post that's pretty much all I've been doing. I'm not trying to pick a fight with Corbs or anyone else--I'm just trying to defend my opinion and that has led to my many long comments.

I'm OK with not talking about it anymore as I've finally said my piece, but I want to say I didn't mean to offend or hurt anyone and my intense fanboyism towards these games has caused me to feel the need to elaborate on my opinions as much as possible in order for people to understand what I'm saying. I wouldn't have done this if A) I didn't love these games so much and B) people didn't respond to my comments.

That is all, I think.

EDIT: Also I've been sick with a fever of 101.6 or something so I might be a little more ticked than usual.



Corbs said:

You just have to remember Oddy that I'm not just reviewing for you guys and the hardcore fans of the game. I have to also take into account people who've never played the games before. It's tough to put a score on games sometimes, especially when they're as great as the BIT.TRIP series, but it felt like a 7, so I went with a 7.



NintenDude97 said:

A 7? What? I have it and I would give it a 9.
The only thing that I don't like about it is the lousy framerate when the 3D is on (Mostly in Runner). You guys gave the WiiWare versions a 10, 9, 9, 9, 9, and 8. SAGA doesn't have anything that significantly bad to lower the score to a 7.



Corbs said:

Post #59 sums it up. You're a little late to the game as we've already discussed most of this.



theblackdragon said:

i'm so sad that the framerate is crappy with the 3D on... i turned it up for the boss of Transition and damn near died because it suddenly got choppy. the 3D is great otherwise — as if the backgrounds weren't distracting before, haha — and i'm so happy to finally have a portable version of these games. they're perfect on a handheld :3



lord_hades said:

i dont get why people think bit trip is good i played the wiiware version of the game (dont know which one it was) but all of them get great reviews i thought it sucked just a bunch of things flying at a paddle



theblackdragon said:

@jtt235: and Mario games are just a dude eating shrooms and jumping around; Call of Duty and Halo are just people shooting each other; and Legend of Zelda is just a kid saving the world. Sorry you don't like these games, but it takes all kinds of people to make the world go 'round, y'know — some of us here happen to like them. :3



Scicri said:

These were great games! Though I do find it depressing that the instruction booklet was printed in black and white when its obviously meant for colour.



bezerker99 said:

/me still waits for this game to show up. I'm starting to believe it doesn't even exist at all and this is all a figment of my imagination.



winter123 said:

The main point for me is that I never want to sit in one place for hours in front of my tv. turn the Wii on, turn the tv on, go to the game, wait foe it to load... Saga I just flip my 3ds open and start playing, then if I need to go somewhere close it. Then say I get to my destination, the doctor, open it up and continue right where I was.

Also, the motion control games on the wii made me feel sick. Accurate, but i ended up feeling like I was on a boat with constant rocking back and forth.

Unfortunate that runner chugs so much in 3D, the other games don't have that issue. I've turned the 3D off and tried the level again, It's smoother but the background interferes even MORE. Seriously, why have such an active background in most of these games, and the colors are often EXACTLY the same as the foreground. That's my main complaint with these games.



winter123 said:

I should comment as I've played gameloft games on the HTC EVO 3D. dont even think any other company has made 3D games for it. Anyway, the framerate Is slower than normal (I think 30) but CONSTANT. it never drops a frame. so in a game like asphalt 6, this is critical.

With runner its like it draws 27 frames then skips 3. Not a game breaker by any means, just a bit upsetting. Once you get the pacing of the game down it becomes even less of an issue.



LittleIrves said:

Yo, is there any ghosting issues with the 3D in SAGA? I ask since this is sometimes a problem with light objects on dark backgrounds, and it seems like this series would have a lot of those moments.



Adam said:

I give Oddy a 6/10. Was going to be 5/10, but he gets an extra point for persistence.



SquirrelNuts said:

I went out and purchased this today, and I love it. I love everything about it. That said, I would also give it a 7/10. All the criticisms in the review are valid, good and bad. I do hesitate to drop full price on a game when it gets a 7 or lower, but this one was worth it.



xxx_Kirby_xxx said:

One of the screenshots reminds me of Nyan Cat. :3 Hrmmm, looks interesting. Maybe I'll get in if it comes into Australia.



iBeatz said:

i have bit.trip saga on my alienware laptop and its tooo awsome so on 3ds its gonna be EPICCCCCC =OMG



Simon_Deku said:

This deserved an 8. Oh well, if I don't win the bid for those skylanders figures, I guess I'll pick this up.



Parasky said:

Just as a heads up, this is going out in EU at March 23rd, which is also 2 days off the 1st anniversary of the 3DS being released in the EU.



Satans_Therapist said:

I don't understand why saga doesn't feature
a difficultly level that you can change when
complete does.

I really want bit trip saga for portability but I've
always found each game too hard.

I can't really justify buying bit trip complete as
I've already brought them individually on

I can also see bit trip saga disappearing at
retail like cave story 3d did only to re-appear
online at over inflated prices.

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