Bit.Trip Complete and Bit.Trip Saga, the Wii and 3DS compilations of Gaijin Games’ rhythm/action WiiWare series, both release this week! (Our fanart contest ends tonight, too, so get your submissions in!)
We talked with Gaijin CEO and creative director Alex Neuse about the two anthologies and covered a bunch of topics that CommanderVideo fans will eat up: Bit.Trip's past and future, details on Saga's new control schemes, thoughts on the 3DS Expansion Slide Pad, and advice on which version you should buy — all after the break:
When you started working on the Bit.Trip series three years ago, did you always picture that it would all be collected on a grand Wii disc collection or Nintendo’s next handheld?
Alex Neuse: We had no idea that we would compile these games into one package. After releasing all the games on WiiWare, we started getting a lot of requests from fans to put all the games on one disc for the Wii.
After considering what it would mean for us to do a retail release, we realized that getting our games out to more people was more important than our company goal of doing digital distribution only, so we decided to go for it.
Also, from the moment we got some hands on time with the Nintendo 3DS at E3 2010, we wanted the Bit.Trip games on it badly.
How has your vision of CommanderVideo and the Bit.Trip series evolved in those three years?
CommanderVideo has grown into something that represents the hopes and dreams of all of us here at Gaijin Games. Yet at the same time, he is only a man.
There’s something incredibly humbling about that concept. CommanderVideo does all these amazing things in the Bit.Trip games, but at the same time, he is just a regular dude. At the beginning of the series, we always thought of him as a playable character (even in the abstract games like BEAT, CORE, and VOID), but as the series concluded, we realized he was more than a character.
He was the pure representation of an idea. Maybe even an ideal. He gained depth. Players who complete Flux and experience the end of the series will understand what I’m getting at. CommanderVideo became transcendent.
Can you talk at all about the new control setups you’ve added for Bit.Trip Saga on the 3DS?
For Bit.Trip Saga, we changed up some of the controls to better fit the hardware. For instance, because of the delicate nature of the 3D effect, we realized early on that tilt controls for BEAT and FLUX weren’t going to work. Luckily, the stylus controls that we implemented feel absolutely perfect. We think fans will be extremely happy with them.
CORE and RUNNER just use the +Control Pad and face buttons, of course; while VOID and FATE utilize the Circle Pad. To aim and fire in FATE, you use the stylus. Overall, we are very happy with the new control schemes.
Were there challenges adjusting the big-screen games for the smaller but 3D display?
Getting the games to work (and look good) on the smaller Nintendo 3DS screen wasn’t as big a challenge as you’d think. I think that’s largely due to the fact that our graphics are very blocky and abstract. The games look AMAZING on that little screen, if I may speak truthfully.
Speaking of the 3DS, since it’s all anybody can talk about the platform lately, what do you think of the Expansion Slide Pad?
I think it’s total crap. I’m very frustrated as a consumer. It seems obvious to me that it’s only a matter of time until Nintendo releases a new 3DS with a second Circle Pad on it, and then what am I going to do? I’m going to give them more of my money. Like I always do.
Also, as a developer, it’s a bummer whenever first parties come out with something like this. Whether it’s the Expansion Slide Pad, Wii Motion Plus, PlayStation Move, or Kinect, developers have a hard decision to make about whether they want to support the new features of the hardware.
From one perspective, new hardware is very exciting, but from another perspective, it’s very risky; because if your game requires it, that means that you’re forcing the player to have that hardware. And not all consumers will have bought the new device.
It’s just a bummer all around, in my opinion.
Has Gaijin Games investigated much into the eShop yet? I wonder what your thoughts are on that platform, compared to WiiWare.
When comparing the eShop to WiiWare, we are very encouraged. It looks like they addressed a lot of the problems found on the WiiWare service. I like using the eShop much more than I ever liked using WiiWare, so that’s good. Whether we will release anything through the eShop is not yet certain. If it seems like we have something appropriate to release, then we certainly will.
Any clues on what’s next for the Bit.Trip series or Gaijin Games?
Oh, we’re workin’ on some super choice projects. I wonder if we’ll say anything official soon… October seems like a good time to make an announcement, wouldn’t you say so?
Do you keep in touch with the chiptune guys you collaborated with (e.g. Anamanaguchi, Bit Shifter, Nullsoft) for the Bit.Trip games? You don’t really see that many partnerships like that, and we hope you do more in the future!
We certainly exchange the occasional email with all the chip musicians with whom we’ve worked. We’re each doing our own things, but yeah, we’re all super friendly. In fact, we collaborated with Bit Shifter again on our recent Robotube Games release for the iPad called Bloktonik.
Anything else you’d like to tell Bit.Trip fans about Saga and Complete?
If you’re fans of the original series and didn’t get enough Bit.Tripping, pick up Complete for the extra features, but if you’re new to the series and own a Nintendo 3DS, you might want to start with Saga. There is nothing like having these games on the go and playing them in 3D with headphones on. It is an amazing experience.
Also, thanks to all of our fans over the years. We are a small team, and every bit of support helps to keep us doing what we love—giving you amazing games to fall in love with.
See also: More of our Bit.Trip posts