Isn't it amazing how music can make even the most banal of tasks quite bearable, and even enjoyable?
As you might have guessed from the title, Bit.Trip Run! represents Gaijin Games's first take on the iOS auto-runner.
It's an oversubscribed genre, but the developer's typically retro-groovy touch promises to lift it to a whole new level.Back in a bit
As series regular Commander Video, an oddly elongated silhouette with a boxy head, you'll find yourself running from left to right in a psychedelic 2D world, jumping over and ducking under obstacles and collecting gold.
You'll also be required to bat away projectiles and kick through walls, all through various taps and swipes of the screen.
Have we lost you in the over-familiarity of it all? Hopefully not, because here's where the catchy chorus kicks in.
You see, while Bit.Trip Run! looks like an auto-runner, it's also a rhythm-action game. The prompts might be visual - a wall to duck under here, a spiky enemy to jump there - but the resulting actions are accompanied by glorious blips of sound.Spring has sprung
Every item collected, spring sprung, and loop-de-loop looped forms a beat or melodious note in the game's bright, driving synth-pop soundtrack.
As you progress through a level the music picks up its tempo and complexity, so failure becomes annoying not because you have to redo the section but because you were caught up in the rhythm or anticipating the next crescendo. It's like when a news report interrupts your favourite song on the radio.
It helps that the game is pretty fair with its checkpointing, so going back to the beginning of one of its generally brief sections doesn't cost you anything in terms of score.
Of course, this element also becomes vital for the game's longevity, because Bit.Trip Run's controls can be infuriating.Rhythm is gonna get you
Every command input in Bit.Trip Run! seems to take a fraction of a second too long to register. It's not a massive amount, but it manifests itself as a slight sluggishness.
In a precise game such as this, it means that you have to anticipate as much as you have to react. This is actually fine when the going is smooth and the aforementioned soundtrack is pumping, but the game's trickier sections really highlight these shortcomings.
To make matters worse, the swipe system seems unreliable. We lost count of the number of times we jumped into an obstacle when we could have sworn we'd swiped down to slide under it.
At its best, when Bit.Trip Run's key elements are all in sync - its wonderful soundtrack, imaginative worlds, and gently evolving level design - it feels like the best auto-runner you've ever played.
It's just a shame that such a wonderful symphony is spoiled by the odd bum note.