BIT.TRIP Presents… Runner 2: Future Legend of Alien Rhythm is a fantastic blend of music and platforming. As the title suggests, the game is an automatic runner. The player controls Commander Video as he races through side-scrolling levels. Along with jumping, Commander Video has access to several secondary maneuvers. For example, he can slide under obstacles, kick down barriers, and deflect incoming projectiles. A constant flow of new mechanics not only keeps the game feeling fresh until the end, it increases the difficulty level exponentially. While juggling a multitude of mechanics can get tricky during the later stages, the gameplay never feels unfair. Switching actions always remains responsive and the character’s animation never lags behind the player’s input.

The structure will be instantly familiar to anyone who has ever played a platformer. Levels are selected from a map screen, collectables are required to progress past a certain point, and there are plenty of secrets scattered around each environment. There are also special unlockable characters and costumes. Although both are limited to the cosmetic, they do add a nice sense of progression and provide a further bit of incentive for every hidden item the game has.

The soundtrack is synced to the gameplay, with each action corresponding to a different musical chime or beat. The links between what is being done and what is being heard only serves to further immerse players in the experience. Visuals, while simplistic, are bright, vibrant and charming. A pastel color palette fills the world and all of the anthropomorphized structures look like something out of a children’s book. Even the menus perfectly capture this mood. Looking at the game is sure to put a smile on the player’s face.

Gaijen Games has created a title that reveals in the contrast between its components. The game combines childlike aesthetics and engrossing platforming with high difficulty and devious collectables. It’s an experience that players won’t soon forget.

BIT.TRIP Presents… Runner 2: Future Legend of Alien Rhythm is currently available on Steam, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and iOS.

Tyler Curran is someone who fondly remembers scribbling out notes about games back when he first learned to write. Who knew design documents scrawled in crayon would lead to him becoming a game design major?