The first Bit.Trip games, all of them initially exclusive to WiiWare, been a good start. They were wonderful little music experiences that required a lot of skill. But Bit.Trip Runner stood out – not least due to the soundtrack.
What Matthew Harwood composed for Gaijin Games a decade ago is not just the musical accompaniment to a game. It was the access to a genre that was always monotonous for me. All seven songs are great fun from the first to the last note. Planar synthesizer sounds, an alternation of low and high sound sequences and a pushing beat towards the inevitable climax – this music picked me up and carried me away. I was really into Commander Video and his bit-pop soundtrack. It’s still impossible for me not to teeter along to the beat while listening.
There’s a saying, that love calms down every wild animal. That also applies to Bit.Trip Runner. As a matter of fact the game is unforgivable regarding your mistakes and putting you right back at the start without mercy, But I didn’t really care. My broad grin while listening to this bright and cheerful music only slowly diminished even after the 10th missed attempt. And if I started to boil inside at some point and wanted to fling the Wii Remote into the TV: As soon as the music started playing again for a few seconds, the corners of my mouth were sitting in the familiar position. I was infatuated with the sound. I learned the rhythm by heart so that I could become one with it and get the last note out of it.
Any hatred for the impossibility of a task or even my own inability finally gave way to love. So today they praise yoga as a way to find inner peace – but Bit.Trip Runner tamed me. Music and gameplay entered a perfect symbiosis, which overwhelmed me, captivated me and didn’t let go so quickly.
Bit.Trip Runnner (2010) was developed by Gaijin Games. The soundtrack is available at Bandcamp. Today the studio is called Choice Provisions and two years ago it set new standards with Runner 3 (Switch, PC, PS4) – playful and musical. Matthew Harwood is again responsible for the unique sound.
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