Review: BitStream

Look at the pretty colours!
Look at the pretty colours!

Sometimes you look at a game and can’t quite place the actual genre that it is meant to fit into and BitStream by Projector games is one of them.

On the surfaces its bright colourful environment and heavy use of dance music, you could be mistaken for thinking it fits somewhere in the music genre alongside Rez. In a way you would not be wrong either.

However dig a little deeper and you work out that it also fits very firmly into the a racing genre.

In the game you will select one of the 8 colour-streams to play as and as you enter each track your goal is, as in all racing games, to be the first to get to the end of the track. As you streak across the screen to the music you will have to dodge obstacles that are there to slow you down and make use of boosts, fail to do it properly and you will fall behind the other colour-streams very quickly.

Some of the tracks are filled with closely placed hazards and even grazing them can seriously affect your speed. Normally the kind of pixel perfect precision required to play this game frustrates me, I am not a patient man by nature, however for some reason in this game it did not bother me as much as I expect it to normally.

The game has several modes for you to enjoy as you trip though this colourful game. Obviously being that it is a racing game there are the standard single race and tournament modes, but its the other modes that really caught my attention.

I'll take the high road and you take the low road
I’ll take the high road and you take the low road

Swarm mode is very much the same as a normal race, but it can include up to 8 players at once. How you ask? Well the developers have used a control method that I long thought gone and buried, two players per controller. The last time I remember anyone doing this it was Micro Machines V3 on the PS1, which was brilliant.  For this one you each take an analogue stick and steer your colours stream as before. This could make for some very interesting gaming nights.

The last mode is Freestyle that takes advantage of the games procedurally generated music to actually make music. You are given access to all 8 streams and can jump between them, then manipulate them a bit and they will then play out like a loop when you jump to the next stream. When you tweak the various streams in just the right way you can create some pretty good loops and I have to admit finding it incredibly relaxing   despite being completely tone-deaf as anyone who has suffered through a Rock Band night at mine will confirm.

However its the quality of this game that stands out the most. With the brilliant graphics and incredible audio generation in this game you will very easily forget that this is an indie game. It has the polish on par with some of the professionally made games I have played over the years.

This game is one of the indie’s that is well worth hunting out and giving a play – but to save you the hunting it can be found at BitStream –

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