CommanderVideo is the first thing I think of when I think “indie”. The Bit.Trip games, especially the Runner series, are synonymous with both the original, and modern indie booms. In April 2019 I took a look at Runner 3. However, I feel like we often don’t discuss the original indie boom as much as we ought to. It changed the course of the video game industry drastically. So I’m taking a look at the ‘quintessential’ indies of the first boom, and seeing if they’re worth playing in a modern setting.
Runner has got a lot of praise over the years. From being the first game that was dubbed a “Nindie”, to having it’s character be the first indie in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a trophy. The Runner series has continued strong on its marathon, but what about its beginning? It did not have the best form when kicking off.
Gameplay in Runner often feels stiff. CommanderVideo’s hit-box is large, and often lead to deaths I didn’t feel like I could control. Without pixel perfect precision, I often felt challenged. The length of most levels really didn’t help. Death meant doing the exact same thing over and over again until it was completed. Sometimes it felt like I was throwing myself at a brick wall until it shattered.
Runner’s presentation is utterly fantastic, even to this day. The juxtaposition of CommanderVideo’s 2D sprite, and the world’s voxels is very visually pleasing. However, at times it could be a bit of a strain on the eyes. For being a rhythm-based, auto-runner, the music, of course, is top notch, at least for the style it’s going for.
Runner just couldn’t keep my attention. I could not finish this game while pretending I hadn’t just played a better version of it. I originally turned to this game to see if it was a gem from the past, but after playing it, I’d more consider it to be a rough ore instead. Runner sprouted amazing sequels that I’d recommend checking out. If you’ve yet to play Bit.Trip Runner, it’s not worth going back to in 2019. If you find it necessary to check out Runner, pick it up in a Steam sale. Runner 2 and 3 are both great romps for you to check out if the series interests you.
I can easily recognize what it was about Runner made it special in 2010. In the modern day, with new standards and sequels, I just couldn’t have fun with this one. I feel like I’ve been super negative, but there’s not much else I have to say about the game. I hope that Choice Provisions never forgets this game, because it makes a lot of mistakes, that future titles can avoid. That’s really the best a mediocre game from the past can give isn’t it?
Bit.Trip Runner was developed by Choice Provisions
Available on Steam
Available for $9.99
A review copy was purchased by the reviewer
BIT.TRIP RUNNER did not receive the IGT Seal of approval