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Bit.Trip Flux Review

Bit.Trip Flux Review

The Bit.Trip series as a whole eschews the modern-gaming approach of graphics over gameplay by focusing instead on the gameplay and matching it to some truly retro chiptune-ish music akin to games like Rez. The last installment, Bit.Trip Fate, had some issues, but the core gameplay experience was truly something to behold. Bearing this in mind, developer Gaijin Games went back to the drawing board for their last title in the series, Bit.Trip Flux, returning to the Pong-inspired gameplay found in Bit.Trip Beat, but also incorporating all of the improvements they've made since Beat's original 2009 release. Does this approach provide a fitting send-off for the last title in the Bit.Trip series, or does returning to more familiar pastimes put a dampener on the series' final trip?

For those who never played Beat, here's a quick rundown of the gameplay mechanics, which are shared with Flux for the most part. You are in control of a rectangular panel on the right-hand side of the screen, controlled by twisting the Wii Remote from a sideways position (NES-style). Pixel "beats" fly at you from the left side of the screen, which you hit with the panel Pong-style making them fly off to the other side of the screen. Hit enough of them and you will "level up", increasing your score multiplier with the added side effect of making the audio and visualizations more expressive and intricate. Miss too many and you will enter the "Nether" mode, in which the screen turns black and white, forcing you to hit enough of the beats to recover and start your combo again.

While this sounds easy enough, things get hectic very, very quickly. As you progress through the game more intricate beat patterns begin to form, some even bouncing back or speeding up unexpectedly. This seems unfair at first, but once you hone into the game's audio, the Wii Remote movements become almost second-nature as you move with the beat. Combining this with the intense visuals that appear later on makes for extremely unique experiences. Gaijin Games utilizes this fact to provide for some amazing bullet patterns, so one generally never sees the same pattern twice throughout the game.

There are two key additions to Flux over the gameplay found in Beat. The first comes in the form of power-ups, which range from making the panel larger to slowing down the movement of the beats. The second addition is the new "Avoid" beat, a circular-shaped beat which tends to throw itself into some of the game's more trickier combos. This creates some insanely hectic movements where Avoid beats will be placed in waves and requires the player to weave in and out of them to catch the "good" beats that lie within.

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