Game Review: Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
OverviewGenre: Dance, Platform
Pros:Lots of replayability, Charles Martinet's narration, excellent soundtrack
Cons:Not much variety to the gameplay
With enough legwork to make Forrest Gump wobble, Runner 2 strides proudly forward as the latest entry in the Bit.Trip series. With plenty of collectibles, characters and running ground, ready your best sneakers, get set and go!
Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is what happens when you get a sentient metronome, the voice of Super Mario, the 3D concept art of Gary Larson and a remix of The Cure’s ‘Close To Me’ and make a computer game out of it.
The heroic Commander Video and his friends are running for the very destiny of the world. Or something. Actually, there’s no real depth to the plot of the game, which is more of a placeholder between Runner 1 and the next game in the Bit Trip series (FATE). It doesn’t matter, as anything beyond the sometimes soothing, sometimes stressful gameplay is pretty much inconsequential. Watching Cmdr. Video moonwalking gracefully in 1980s-style sneakers before a happy swamp in the moonlight, being cheered on by a half-fish man is what’s really important in Future Legend of Rhythm Alien.
The concept is simple: keep running, jump over/slide under obstacles, deflect projectiles, keep running, kick down doors, burst through loop-de-loops, collect as many gold bullions as possible, and for the love of all that is sacred KEEP RUNNING. One hit and you’re thrown back to the start of the level, where the music syncs up as your Energizer Bunny-style bounding resumes once again. Levels do have checkpoints halfway through, but rather than hedging your bets and using one, you can double down and hurdle over them, greatly increasing your score, but running the risk of not making it all the way to the end, being killed by the final enemy/obstacle, and being sent right back to the beginning. It’s a delicious gamble that will leave players as frustrated (if it fails) as they will feel thrilled (if it works). Not that dying is a cause for throwing your controller out the window á la some games (looking at you, Dark Souls). At no point does any level in Runner 2 feel impossible. Moreover, most levels will have multiple paths of varying difficulties for you to explore, with various rewards depending on your particular route. Some will even unlock one of the game’s many secret levels. Runner 2 is such a simple game, yet so pleasantly rewarding, with lots of replayability in trying to top high score leaderboards.
The game’s minimalist soundtrack has to be celebrated too – a collection of melodies that are neither inconspicuous nor overbearing – as the beat and dynamics of the music are so interlinked to what’s occurring on screen that they feel as intrinsic to the game as the graphics. Every leap your character takes corresponds to a beep or boop of that particular level. Each door knocked down is complemented by a tic or a toc on a chained snare drum. The music engulfs you so gently as you explore the 100+ levels across Runner 2′s 5 worlds, it almost feels like an invisible partner accompanying you through a game that will make you run, punch, jump, slide, kick, dance, flip and flap. And when you’re finished, it will leave you wondering what that was all about. But it won’t matter, because it was too much fun to make you care about the frills.