It’s easy to forget how different the Wii was from every other console when it released back in 2006. Motion controls were something completely new and a lot of developers had huge problems properly adapting to them. While it hampered many efforts, there were some games that were allowed to really shine under these specific conditions. Bit.Trip Beat is one of the prime examples of that.
Bit.Trip Beat is a weird game in many ways: It features a primarily retro aesthetic and it looks, at least at first sight, like a strange remake of Pong. But don’t be fooled, there’s much more going on! Yes, you do indeed control a Pong paddle, but you do it by tilting your Wii Remote, which I thought at the time to be amazing. And it still is, as it works so surprisingly well that you have to wonder why other games haven’t used this feature more. Sure, Excite Truck and Kororinpa did it as well, but those were the exceptions.
What’s also strange is that the game actually is a rhythm game. You have to hit the beats that are being flung in your general direction – just like in Pong – but these projectiles are also notes of the background music which consists of really great chiptune music. You do this in front of a somewhat psychedelic background that sometimes distracts you from the action, as the movements are quite mesmerizing.
The game is difficult but softens it a bit with some neat mechanics. For example, if you get enough combos, the meter at the top will fill and the style of the music will change. It also resets the meter at the bottom of the screen – This is a good thing as this meter only fills up if you miss beats. If it fills up, you enter the Nether, where the screen turns black and white and you’re near death. Miss too many beats here and it’s Game Over. Hit enough beats and it goes back to normal. This makes sure that death never is a sudden occurrence, you always get a second chance! There are also occasional challenges popping up, where your paddle gets smaller or you get two of them, mixing things up a bit.
And that’s pretty much it. The three stage get more difficult over time and there’s an emphasis on getting a higher score, but outside of that, there isn’t much to the game. And that’s fine, since the style and the unique gameplay make it one of the best games on the Wiiware service. If you don’t own a Wii, the game has been ported to numerous platforms, including the 3DS, PlayStation 3 and 4, iPhone, Steam and Nintendo 3DS. It’s part of the Bit.Trip Saga and Brit.Trip Complete collections too, so it should be easy to find!