Game Info: Bit Boy!!
WiiWare | Bplus | 1-2 Player co-op / versus | Out Now | 600 Wii Points
Controller compatibility: Wii remote (sideways); Wii remote (upright - joystick style)
Review by Billy White
Recently, there have been a bunch of retro-styled titles on WiiWare, alongside lots of tat and the occasional gem. With Bit Boy!!, Bplus have managed to combine all three of these different categories in one game, which looks at every different gaming generation from 4-Bit to 128-Bit. The gameplay doesn't offer anything too outstanding and doesn't include many changes from generation to generation, but somehow, a certain charm still captures the spirit of the game and overall makes for a great, fun experience.
The objective of Bit Boy!! is simple: collect your "friends" throughout each maze-like level whilst dodging the ever-spawning enemies. In addition to this, you can also collect special fruits to make your high score increase further, which is the ultimate aim of the game. Each world only consists of a few quick levels, and you should be able to blast through the full game of six worlds in under an hour, but the high scores should have you going back for more, as you try to claim the hot spot in each of the (local, not online) leaderboards.
Once you complete each world (generation), there's also the option of playing it again in "warp mode". In this mode, your objective is instead to collect as many diamonds as possible without dying. As soon as you die, you skip to the next level in the world, with your final score at the end of the world reflecting the amount of diamonds you collected throughout the game. This mode is pretty fun, and the most addictive choice of the two modes for high scoring, which is great since it also makes great use of the drop-in multiplayer mode.
Anyone can join in the game at any time with a second Wii remote, and help you out by collecting items with you, in any mode. In co-op, you share lives and objectives, but in warp mode, you can choose to play against your friend instead, since the game records the amount of diamonds you both collect separately, although since you both share the same amount of lives, the player currently in the lead could easily kill himself repeatedly to reach the end of the world where the scores are tallied up.
If your opponent does work out this method, you can instead choose to play the game in "turbo" mode, unlocked when you complete the final world in both the standard and warp modes (with the second unlock allowing you to play turbo mode in warp mode instead of the norm). This mode is basically an endless version of the game, allowing you to quit whenever you like as the credits skip along the bottom of the screen as you progress.
As you progress through the game, you can see the distinguishing features of each generation of gaming, both in the presentation and gameplay itself. The 4-bit generation is really simplistic, based on smaller sized levels with no extra features available. The 8-bit generation brings the addition of a limited number of close-range un-replenishable attacks to be utilised at any point during the span of each world, and these are also available in each preceding generation. As you progress through the subsequent worlds, the visual aspects of the game will change drastically, and alternative camera views, from slightly zoomed in views (useful on larger stages where you could strain your eyes a bit following all the detail on screen) to close-up styles in the 3D levels (which are a nice addition, but extremely awkward for seeing enemies close by, which will often take you by surprise).
Unlike you'd expect, the difficulty doesn't really feel as though it gets too much harder as you go along, and isn't too tricky from the start. The AI may seem dumb at first, and things like dead-ends become more and more common, but if you look at the seemingly random patterns of movement that the creatures have, you will be able to think up tactics of how to dodge enemies, such as by following behind them (since they never turn backwards - only left and right), and by making predictions of whether enemies will reach you before you manage to quickly run up a dead end and escape. You can move faster than your enemies, which is also an advantage, but sometimes, it does all still come down to you being stuck in a dead end. These situations aren't terrible and are the perfect situations for using your attacks, but if the same thing happens multiple times in one level, or if a flood of enemies all come your way at once, it can be quite frustrating.
It's useful, then, that the enemies all return to their spawn when you die, as you continue from where you left off, a handy feature of the game. You are also given a continue function which will come in handy quite a lot, but also give you the opportunity to continue from the start of the level you got to, rather than starting a whole world again. Once you've completed a world as well, you can also return to it afterwards at any point, in case there's any particular levels or designs you prefer.
Overall, the presentation is really good, however there are a couple of continuity errors, such as the font and music that always remain in the same retro style throughout (despite a different, highly tune playing for each world), rather than progressing like the rest of the game. There are a few other minor issues with the graphics as well, and whilst it may seem in line with the idea of the game, sometimes things like dodgy rendering of objects causing them to look slightly out of place as you move can look a bit cheap, and on the full view of the level, the high scores and information at the top of the screen can obscure your vision of the full map.
For those that love their gaming nostalgia, Bit Boy!! is definitely for you. The maze style gameplay combined with varying aesthetic designs and the high score focus all add up to something that fans of retro titles will love. Gamers more used to the current, more recent generations may not be as appreciative of the game, but the co-op and the frantic time diamond mode should liven things up quite a bit. For the former, Bplus have even gone as far as to include a joystick style control scheme alongside the standard retro style involving controlling the game with the Wii remote buttons whilst on it's side (which can get really awkward after long sessions of play, and seems really strange when you wonder why classic controller support wasn't included). The joystick controls are a nice addition to the game and work well enough when controlled as instructed (with the Wii remote sat on a flat surface), but simply aren't up to scratch when it comes to being more and more accurate as the game continues.
All in all, Bplus have managed to create a really enjoyable experience with Bit Boy!! There are times when you'll no doubt feel enraged by the rapid flows of enemies coming your way, and it is a severe shame that it doesn't take long to play through each generation, but rather than create a compilation of several different mini games, it's good to see the guys stick to the same gameplay premise throughout. With a friend in the bonus warp mode levels, the game becomes much more fun, and gamers of old will no doubt revel in the retro nods that the game constantly provides users with. Overall though, the game is well worth a try, despite some minor flaws that make the game feel a tad unpolished at times. It doesn't offer anything revolutionary, but what it does, it does well, and it's clear that the final product is exactly what the developers intended to give gamers when they released the game.
23/30 - Very Good
Gameplay 8/10 - Simple, yet very addictive offering more depth than it first seems | Presentation 8/10 - Appropriate look and catchy, if out-of-place, tunes
Enjoyment 4/5 - Great fun, especially in co-op/warp mode, despite minor frustrations | Extra Content 3/5 - Short, but high scores should keep you playing