Bit.Trip FATE is the fifth and penultimate installment of Gaijin Games’ Bit.Trip series. Like the four titles preceding it, FATE meshes distinctly retro aesthetics with rhythm-based gameplay, crafting a familiar and nostalgic experience that still manages to be unique in its own right. Also like its predecessors, FATE borrows greatly from classic-retro titles. This time, Gaijin Games pays homage to the venerable Shoot ‘em up genre in what might be one of the most interesting titles of the series.
But is it any good? Hit the jump to find out.
Bit.Trip FATE is a very interesting game. The guys at Gaijin Games managed to make a game that encapsulates everything that the Wii absolutely doesn’t need and yet sorely lacks at the same time. It goes without saying that any shmup enthusiast Wii owner should check out this game. The console’s library has been almost entirely devoid of shooters, aside from rare releases like Treasure’s Sin & Punishment 2 and a smattering of virtual console releases. However, the game also manages to fall victim to one of the largest tropes in the Wii library.
No, it’s not a party game. Bit.Trip FATE joins Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, House of the Dead: Overkill, Dead Space Extraction and a plethora of other titles as a part of the Wii’s growing collection of rail shooters. While that may sound like a turn-off, it actually works in FATE’s favour.
While it may take some getting used to, using the Wii-remote’s infrared pointer as a method of aiming fire feels surprisingly natural. As seasoned shmup fan, it was a little overwhelming having such precision over fire. Rather than merely firing in front of protagonist, Commander Video, you have the ability to shoot anywhere on-screen. For those who would prefer a standard controller, the Classic Controller is also an option – which a representative of Gaijin Games’ told me to try out “for a more Geometry Wars vibe”.
While the player is given more freedom in direction of fire, FATE is more restrictive in terms of movement. Moving and positioning oneself along the rail become as important as firing. Greed, as introduced in Bit.Trip VOID, becomes crucial, as picking up the remains of fallen enemies is key to powering up your weapons. However, the relentless pursuit of that greed will oftentimes land the player in hot water as the power-ups are often dropped in places where enemies and oncoming fire are about to appear.
Also, special power-ups are scattered through the game that alter the way in which Commander Video fires for a short period of time. These power-ups take the form of various characters within the Bit.Trip cannon, as well as Robotube Games’ Mr. Robotube and Team Meat’s Meat Boy. These power-ups, specifically Meat Boy, make certain parts of the game much easier.
Walking the line between caution and greed when picking up power-ups will determine whether or not you have the firepower to defeat the boss awaiting you at the end of the stage. Therein lies the difficulty of FATE. Knowing where to position yourself, which enemies to shoot, and when to shoot them is paramount. As with the four Bit.Trip titles preceding it, much of the difficulty lies within the player’s ability to memorize the stages.
By no means is FATE an easy game. Even if you are a master of bullet-hell titles, chances are that you will be playing these stages more than a few times in order to complete them successfully. In comparison with previous Bit.Trip titles, FATE does boast a longer playtime seem a tad easier. However, the lesser difficulty doesn’t equate to less frustration.
For a couple levels I found myself flawlessly navigating through the level, only to have to replay the level several times in order to defeat the boss. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a challenge, but the disparity in difficulty between some stages and their bosses was quite jarring. Likewise, some levels you may complete the first or second time you play them, while others will take upwards of a dozen attempts. As such, Bit.Trip FATE feels like the least balanced title in the series.
As always, the great chiptune-inspired soundtrack is one of the main draws of FATE. The music is catchy, yet subdued – reminiscent of both CORE and VOID. The soundtrack definitely ratchets up the sense of tension and conflict that the game is going for. The retro-visuals are equally as impressive and echo the dark atmosphere provided by FATE’s captivating soundtrack.
All in all, with its vibrant visuals, catchy music, and entertaining gameplay; Bit.Trip FATE is another great entry into Gaijin Games’ stellar Wii-Ware series held back only by an unbalanced difficulty level.
FATE features the same colourful retro-visual style that make the rest of the series so appealing.
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The addition of the rail puts a fun and interesting twist on the classic shmup formula.
FATE features a catchy, yet subdued chiptune-inspired soundtrack.
With six lengthy levels and an emphasis on high-scores, there's plenty of replay value in this title.
Bit.Trip FATE is another great entry into Gaijin Games’ stellar Wii-Ware series only held back by an unbalanced difficulty level.