Commander Video baffles me. He's a black rectangle with a smaller white rectangle for eyes, and (sometimes) stubby little arms and legs, and yet he's appeared in dozens of games, both indie and otherwise. Not bad for a non-character from a strange little low-fi Wii rhythm game. Continuing his streak of inexplicable success, Runner3 (latest in the Bit.Trip Runner series) launched today, and it looks perhaps a little... wackier than I expected.
Bigger, weirder, louder. While I'd have thought that a blend of rhythm game and endless runner would be a relatively niche and inherently restrained thing, new studio Choice Creations have gone all-in on Runner3, with the gameplay shifting perspectives, genres and even into completely different art styles, as you can see in the trailer below. That new free-wheeling attitude apparently comes at a (literal) price, with this new entry in the series costing somewhat more than its predecessors.
Just because they're shooting for a bigger, bolder and more cartoony style doesn't mean that the game is pulling any punches. Watching some of the folks streaming the game, it's hard not to notice that it is every bit as uncompromising as its predecessors, if not moreso. Shooting for a perfect completion score on any level is going to be a genuine challenge of reflexes, memory and dexterity, as this one uses a few more buttons than your average endless runner, plus mixes up its systems pretty often.
Personally, I'm feeling a little too worn-down, grey and stereotypically British to be drawn towards a mix of lurid colours, bizarre Spongebob-esque humour and hardcore precision platforming at this precise moment, but I know a few folks who were ready to leap on this one the moment it launched. It's been interesting seeing the evolution of the series (and character) from hyper-minimalist to bizarre cartoon excess. Not a bad little success story all told, for a black rectangle.