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I command destiny.

Technology is fleeting.

With rhythm comes responsibility.

I command rhythm.

By being, we are charged to command.

The subordinate is superior.

We are all commanders.

We are all on a BIT.TRIP.
CommanderVideo, Nintendo Power Issue 244
"It's a basic story. Life and death. It's the story of a human's life. You are nothing--or are you? And then you are, and then what do you do with your life? And then it ends. No one really knows before you're born and then you die. People have beliefs but nobody really knows."
Alex Neuse

Alright, let's put this as straight as possible: you are playing Atari 2600 games while high on acid. While listening to NES music. Nothing could be more awesome.

BIT.TRIP is a series of rhythm games, originally for Wii Ware, developed by Gaijin Games. The specific games are:

  • BIT.TRIP BEAT, is like a game of single-player Pong where you must defend the left side of the screen from an onslaught of bouncing squares (called "beats") using only a tiny paddle. Once you start to get the hang of things, the beats start moving faster, circling around in unpredictable patterns, and using every part of the game experience to issue a challenge of both real and fake difficulty, setting the tone for the series. Also available on Steam and IOS Games.
  • BIT.TRIP CORE, was released four months after the first. It changes the control scheme around a little bit, ditching the Pong paddle and replacing it with a red D-pad in the center of the screen that shoots lasers at the passing beats.
  • BIT.TRIP VOID, puts you in control of a black hole which can move around to suck up black beats and dodge white beats. It was released November 2009, making it the third BIT.TRIP game to be announced and released within the course of a year, and the mid point of the six game series as a whole.
  • BIT.TRIP RUNNER, breaks many established attributes of the series, and begins Gaijin's promise to turn down the Mind Screw factor and begin to reveal the truth behind the plot. Released in June 2010, it is a platformer among the lines of Vib Ribbon and Canabalt[1] thrown in. The second game available on Steam. Has a sequel in development.
  • BIT.TRIP FATE was released on October 25, 2010. It is a literal Rail Shooter, with the Five-Man Band from the last game serving as powerups. It represented a merging of the literal and figurative aspects of the series, and is notably darker in theme than the others.
  • The sixth and final game, BIT.TRIP FLUX, was released February 28, 2011. In essence it is a horizontal reversal of the first game, but with elements taken from each of the other games in the series.

A pair of Compilation Rereleases, titled BIT.TRIP SAGA and BIT.TRIP COMPLETE, are available for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii respectively. The 3DS version features 3D, control changes to accomodate the lack of a Wiimote and of course, portability, while the Wii version features 3 difficulty levels, a soundtrack CD [2], online leaderboards, and other extras for fans who have followed the series the whole way through.

The initial hype for these games came from an online Viral Marketing campaign, encouraging users to try and decode hidden messages from a mysterious "CommanderVideo" entity. CommanderVideo is portrayed in the game's story cutscenes as a box/astronaut/television-like creature, and the story follows his adventures through space as he matures, assembles a Five-Man Band, and beats up a gear robot to... uh... well, nobody's really too sure. The series does have a plot, but it's entirely based on All There in the Manual (which COMPLETE includes as in-game liner notes). It's mostly symbolic instead of literal in terms of storytelling, and it was only once the series was completed that people could reflect on the series as a whole for its meaning. The final game is dedicated to Carl Sagan as well, and in hindsight the series incorporates a lot of his philosophy.

The games are critically acclaimed for their nostalgic retro quality, brutal but addictive difficulty, and kickass soundtracks that build themselves as the levels progress.

This Series Provides Examples Of:

  • All There in the Manual: Confirming most of a certain WMG.
  • Alternate Reality Game: The PC version of BEAT is one of the Potato Sack: 13 indie games that form the bulk of the material of Valve's "PotatoFoolsDay" Portal 2 ARG.
  • Arch Enemy/Big Bad: Mingrawn Timbletot.
  • Arc Words: "I am only a man"
  • Art Shift: RUNNER 2 has a more cartoony art style, although players will have the choice of selecting Commander Video's "retro" appearance.
  • Ascended Glitch: In BEAT, hitting the pong ball with the corners of Player 2's paddle will cause the ball to gain way too much momentum and go haywire, making the final boss trivial to beat. When the game was patched, Gaijin specifically didn't fix the bug because it was a "cool advanced technique".
  • A Winner Is You: At the end of FLUX, you are presented with a GAME OVER screen. It is, by far, the best parody of the trope.
  • Back for the Finale: FLUX has many gameplay elements from all five of the previous games:
    • From BEAT: The core gameplay.
    • From CORE: Some of the power-ups.
    • From VOID: The inclusion of checkpoints and Beats that harm you if you try to repel them.
    • From RUNNER: Commander Video's main theme from this returns in the 3rd level.
    • From FATE: Messages that fly by in the background of each stage segment
  • Breather Level: BIT.TRIP VOID is considered a Breather Game.
    • It even has *GASP* checkpoints! Getting a high score is still very challenging though.
    • "Ginger Pit" is pretty much this in RUNNER. Really, the middle of the 3rd zone in general is surprisingly less challenging. Don't worry, it ratchets back up to insane by 3-9: The Gauntlet.
    • Control in CORE is much easier than the level that came before it, Exploration, as the pattern is mostly recycled from the previous stages.
  • Bonus Stage: Collecting all pieces gold in a stage in RUNNER will activate one at the end of said stage.
  • Book Ends: The first and last games of the series, BEAT and FLUX respectively, have identical controls, but on opposite ends of the screen.
    • The last background image seen in FLUX is the giant blue ball that represents a heartbeat at the very beginning of BEAT. The comet from said song also makes an appearance as it flies back to the blue ball.
    • Every song in FLUX is based upon Transition, the first song in BEAT, in some way.
      • The opening theme is based upon Growth, the third song in BEAT, as well as "Move to Intercept", the menu theme of that game (made by the same guy).
  • Boss Dissonance: It varies by game.
    • BEAT has easier bosses than levels.
    • VOID has harder bosses than levels.
    • RUNNER has easier bosses than levels; the game even makes it more or less impossible to not get a perfect on them.
    • FATE has harder bosses than levels.
    • FLUX has easier bosses than levels.
  • Bullet Hell: BEAT and CORE are rare inversions where you must hit all the dots instead of dodging them.
    • In VOID and FLUX, you have to do both. The final boss in VOID is also a textbook example of classic Bullet Hell.
    • FATE is the straightest example, being an actual shoot 'em up, complete with tiny hitbox.
  • Call Back: in the background of FLUX are the level names and other statements from previous games in the series, representing CommanderVideo reflecting on his experiences.
    • Call Forward: Some of the names are those of later stages in FLUX, possibly to reinforce the non-linearity of time in the ethereal.
  • Character Development: CommanderVideo throughout the series.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In RUNNER, Junior Melchkin, Radbot, and Meat Boy each appear in the background once (the former two appearing in the levels named after themselves, the latter in "Gall Blaster"). Eventually, they all show up in "The Source", assisting in CommanderVideo's Roof Hopping. CommandgirlVideo also shows up in this level, though it isn't until after the level that CommanderVideo takes notice...
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience: Conspicuously averted in FLUX, in which every beat is the same color, including the ones that bounce back and must be hit again an instant later.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: Played straight in BEAT and CORE, but averted in VOID (the players are identified by the number next to their Void instead).
  • Continuing Is Painful: If you die in VOID, you have the choice between accepting your current score for the high score list, or losing all your points to continue.
    • Averted somewhat in RUNNER. If you hit an obstacle in one of the stages, you just get instantly shunted back to the start of the stage to do it all over (although you do have to re-get all the points you got up to the point you 'died'). There is no limit as to how many times this can happen; just keep going until you get it. Note that this does not apply to Retro Challenges, which are just there to give you bonus points.
      • Though at a certain point, going through a level over and over only to die on a point near the end gets painful.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: With four players in BEAT and VOID and two players in CORE, FATE, and FLUX. BEAT, CORE, VOID, and FLUX are all individual-style, while FATE is assistant-style. Averted in RUNNER for storyline reasons and averted completely in SAGA, likely out of space concerns.
  • Cosmetic Award: The "PERFECT!" acknowledgment on the scoreboard. This does extend to real life as getting the elusive title gives you name recognition on the official site.
  • Crapsack World: Triumph in RUNNER, and all of FATE.
  • Crossover: Meat Boy and Mr. Robotube.
  • Darker and Edgier: FATE.
  • Difficulty Levels: The IOS Games, PC and COMPLETE versions have an Easy Mode and a Hard Mode, which influence how fast the meters going both ways fill.
  • Distaff Counterpart: CommanderVideo gets one in RUNNER. She's even named "CommandgirlVideo".
  • Downloadable Content: The iOS version of BEAT currently has a level pack based on VOID.
  • Downer Ending: RUNNER and FATE both.
    • FLUX somewhat as well; the final scene of the series has the Commander forgetting even himself, but then again there's that bit of "Transition" that pops up.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In the first cutscene of FATE alone, Radbot apparently stops working altogether, and his head splits apart, revealing Mr. Robotube.
  • Easter Egg: There's actually a Game Over in RUNNER, though it requires a completely Epic Fail on your part.
    • You can play random notes in all the games by pressing a button that isn't used for any purpose in that game.
  • Easy Mode Mockery: In RUNNER, playing on Easy removes the gold and Retro Challenges, and makes it impossible to get a Perfect.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: However, BIT.TRIP's rainbow has a distinctly different color arrangement.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: As you Mode Up in RUNNER, CommanderVideo will leave behind a trail of sparkles, which eventually becomes his distinctive rainbow trail.
  • The End of the Beginning: Level 1-10 of RUNNER.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's like an acid trip. And, somewhere, bits are involved. Made even more hilarious in FLUX, which gets binary digits involved.
  • Fade to White: At the end of FLUX. You keep playing but ultimately have to stop because you can't see (the beats and panel are both white in this game). And then you hear Transition start.
  • Final Exam Boss: CORE's final boss is essentially a test of how well you remembered specific patterns in all of the levels.
  • Five-Man Band: The Stinger in RUNNER pretty much solidifies it.
  • Flash of Pain: The enemies in FATE flash red when hit.
  • Foreshadowing: The explanatory letters in COMPLETE reveal that the ghostly figures in the first level of BEAT are dead members of CommanderVideo's species, returning to where they came from. This is exactly what he does in FLUX.
  • Fridge Brilliance: In RUNNER, after Radbot assists you in "The Source", you run by a bunch of "Burger Mouth" billboards, then Meat Boy comes in to help. Think about it...
  • Get Back Here Boss: The final boss of RUNNER.
  • Goomba Stomp: How CommanderVideo defeats the final boss in RUNNER.
  • Hard Mode Perks: In FLUX, playing on Hard increases the amount of Beats missed required to drop a level.
  • He Who Fights Monsters; FATE.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: In FATE, bullets pass through CommanderVideo unless they hit his Core.
  • Homage:
  • The Homeward Journey: The premise of FLUX.
  • Hundred-Percent Completion: It's a little known fact that hitting all the beats in a single song will get you acknowledgment at the score screen. Though, it's no surprise not many people have seen it.
    • COMPLETE has a hundred and twenty Challenges (twenty in each game) to play through. It also has plenty of unlockables... of which the Songs require you to get Perfects.
  • Idiosyncratic Combo Levels: The music in each game changes slightly depending on combo, in addition to the names of the extra modes, which trigger in sequence based on some level of combo. NETHER is the lowest, HYPER is normal, then MEGA, SUPER, ULTRA, EXTRA, GIGA, and META, with SUPER onwards being added in each subsequent game.
  • Interface Screw: The trippy background images and particle effects are enough to distract you from the field of play. This is completely intentional.
    • Don't forget the "Challenge" portions of BEAT, CORE, VOID, and FLUX, where your paddle is shrunk down to half-size, your Control Stick is reversed, or you have to rotate the actual controller 90 degrees around the Control Pad to match what's onscreen.
  • Interquel: Gaijin Games have stated on Twitter that RUNNER 2 will take place between RUNNER and FATE.
  • Large Ham: CommanderVideo himself. Just listen to his haiku readings.
    • Listen closely in RUNNER and FATE. CommanderVideo announces the mode he transitions to.


  • Leitmotif: An identical-sounding heartbeat-like bass track is present in many of the series' songs, including Transition, Control, Id, and nearly everything in RUNNER.
    • CommanderVideo has a theme song that plays in the first world of RUNNER, the end of FATE and the final level of FLUX. The distinctive first four notes play in varying orders in the first level of BEAT and in the first cutscene of FLUX. All of FLUX's level songs are based around BEAT's first level's music. On FLUX's full soundtrack, the notes play in the correct order one last time at the very, very end.
  • Love At First Sight: CommanderVideo and CommandgirlVideo.
  • Lying Creator: In regards to RUNNER, the developers have said, "We don't have a Mackle Fussybuck, but we do have: Jabol Smabbler, Junior Melchkin, Flyss Whizzle, Mingrawn Timbletot, Leftwise Gestersmek (and a Rightwise one to boot), Hairy Knorkwhisp, and our favorite... The Non Trotski. Basically, we're makin' this shit up." The thing is, they're all names of various stages in the game.
  • Milestone Celebration: The launch of the series website a year after the first game was released.
  • Mind Screw: The whole freaking thing. The first game's story is about CommanderVideo flying through space, exploring the inside of a planet, and then... uh... building a brain out of voxels. The second game is about CommanderVideo meeting other people, exploring a city with them, and then acquiring independence from them. The third game had CommanderVideo growing in size and harassing the populace until they combine themselves into an even bigger giant, at which point the Commander is intimidated down to size and decides to make amends with the others. What does it all mean? Your guess is as good as mine.
    • Fortunately, starting with BIT.TRIP RUNNER, the series will stop messing with our minds and show us what's really going on.
    • While RUNNER and FATE made enough literal sense, FLUX returns to oblique symbolic metaphors, once again leaving everyone clueless.
  • Mind Screwdriver: The readme files for the soundtracks have some interesting hints: that BEAT is about CommanderVideo's "aural journey from the ethereal to the corporeal", that CORE is about his "aural soul quest as he transitions into the land of the tactile", that VOID is about his "aural soul quest as he learns what it means to interact with others", and that RUNNER is about him "tak[ing] the world by storm." Indeed, if the story is considered to be a chronicle of a man's existence, a lot of things suddenly start to make sense.
    • Alex Neuse, the game's creator, has confirmed that Commander Video's story is about the development of human life.
  • Musical Gameplay: Hitting the Beats (or doing successful actions in RUNNER or downing enemies in FATE) makes beeping noises that contributes to the music.
    • In BEAT and FLUX, stereo is utilized by playing one blip on your paddle's side when it hits, then another on the other side when it goes off-screen.
  • Musical Nod: "Transition" from BEAT briefly plays during the opening to RUNNER's "Triumph" stage. A bit from the "Concept" cutscene from BEAT also plays in the cutscene after "Triumph".
  • Nintendo Hard: Hmm, would Atari Hard count?
    • There's a very good reason why they go through the trouble of including everyone who's ever gotten a "PERFECT!" on a stage on their website.
    • Of all of them, FATE and CORE are quite a bit harder than the rest.
    • Breather Game: VOID and FLUX are noticeably easier than other games. RUNNER and BEAT are about the middle of the road.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Subverted in RUNNER, where CommanderVideo can only take one hit, but is merely sent to the beginning of the stage.
    • Unless you miss the final spring in the last level, after which you get to watch the Commander twitch on the ground until the Game Over screen pops up.
  • Pixel Hunt: Happens often with Beats due to the Interface Screw. And you only have about half a second to catch sight of that little thing anyways.
    • Possibly made worse in FLUX since every single beat is the same color--white. (However, given that the background gets increasingly bright and colorful with each Mode, this can become a bit of a mercy.) They do have a faint colored glow around each one, but good luck seeing which one's which.
  • Playing Tennis With the Boss: The final boss of BEAT, and the first boss of FLUX.
    • The final boss of FLUX has you playing tennis with a full-screen enemy paddle... or, arguably, fighting yourself as the final boss.
  • Power of Love: The Commander and his team believe this fighting Mingrawn Timbletot. During FATE, the Commander abandons his ideals and kills both himself and Mingrawn Timbletot in a rage.
  • Product Placement: NULLSLEEP's logo appears as part of Super-Ego's beat pattern in VOID, accompanied by the word NULLSLEEP passing by in the background.
  • Puntuated For Emphasis: The end of VOID has CommanderVideo exclaiming, "I! Am! READY!"
    • Also, Mingrawn Timbletot caps off RUNNER by darkly declaring, "You... are... not... a... man!"
  • Rail Shooter: Literally in FATE -- CommanderVideo is on a rail, and you control both him and a crosshair.
  • Ray Gun: Most prominently in FATE, coming in many forms depending on what wingmate powerup you have and your Mode; (though not with sound effects or (except in a few cases) traditional "laser weapon" looks) the enemies use this as well. Gratuitously.
  • Recurring Boss: Mingrawn Timbletot in RUNNER and FATE. The Commander kills him in a Suicide Attack.
  • Retraux
  • Rhythm Game: The games' genre is filed under "Retro Rhythm Action".
  • Robot Buddy: Radbot and Mr. Robotube both.
  • Roof Hopping: Present in RUNNER.
    • According to this review, this was going to be the entirety of "Triumph", but the guys at Gaijin discovered Canabalt and relocated most of the action to the streets of the Capital City, only hitting the roofs at the very last level.
  • Rule of Three: There are three songs in each game: BEAT had "Transition", "Descent", and "Growth"; CORE had "Discovery", "Exploration", and "Control"; VOID had "Id", "Ego", and "Super-Ego"; RUNNER had "Impetus", "Tenacity", and "Triumph"; FATE has "Patience", "Frustration", and "Anger"; and FLUX had "Epiphany", "Perception" and "Catharsis".
  • Running Gag: "I am only a man!" seems to be this. Seen in Triumph are posters with cats that read "I am only a cat."
    • "I AM ONLY A CAT!" is actually available as fan-made merchandise.
    • From the PotatoFoolsDay level "<test>":

 GLaDos: "You are only human."

  • Scare Chord: While you are playing the first two levels in FATE, a startlingly loud sound is heard accompanied by either a bleak message like "NO FUTURE" or "NO MEANING", or the level's boss, and the song itself moves onto its next part. The same thing happens in the other four levels, only the sound isn't abruptly loud.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: Granted you play multiple times, some parts will become simple, while others will screw you up every damn time. For specific examples of levels, see the Breather Level and That One Level examples.
  • Scoring Points: One of the taglines for BEAT was "Points matter again". (Though, for rhythm games, didn't they always?)
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: Thoroughly averted. They're all hard.
  • Sequel Escalation: Each game so far adds a new Mode to Mode Up into. Nether, Hyper, and Mega Modes were the first ones featured in BEAT, then CORE added Super Mode, followed by Ultra Mode in VOID, Extra Mode in RUNNER, Giga Mode in FATE, and finally Meta Mode in FLUX.
  • Sequel Hook: The first two games had these as Meaningful Background Events, as a Core and a Void both popped up towards the end of the final levels in BEAT and CORE, respectively. The third game had CommanderVideo running increasingly fast in The Stinger of VOID to tie into RUNNER.
    • As well as the subsequent "!!" following said running.
    • The floating bricks and the flapping birds/bats in the background near the end of VOID also hold significance to both RUNNER and FATE. (They're similar to the flies around the garbage seen in Triumph for RUNNER.)
    • The fourth game had the Five-Man Band shown in The Stinger confronting an angry Mingrawn Timbletot, who flies away screaming "YOU ARE NOT A MAN!"
    • And the fifth game has CommanderVideo becoming a spirit and rising up offscreen, ready to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence and begin The Homeward Journey. No dialogue here, unlike the others.
    • The sixth game has a sequence called "Home" played after completing Catharsis, where you are able to, interspersedly, hit the same sequence of Beats from the very beginning of Transition from BEAT, in the same order. Seeing as the game's story goes in a circle, this could count as a Sequel Hook of sorts.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: In an incredibly meta example, FLUX literally makes the player do this at the end.
  • Shout-Out: The Arecibo message makes an appearance in the first level in BEAT (but with CommanderVideo replacing the human figure). It also makes a brief appearance in the final level of FLUX.
  • Silent Credits: FLUX.
  • Some Dexterity Required: While the controls are simple enough, the things the game makes you do with them can only be described as combos from hell. Add to that the fact that BEAT and FLUX use non-optional motion controls- the muscle memory has to be all in your wrists.
  • Special Guest: Each game has a chiptune artist that provides the menu and credits songs. Both BEAT and FLUX have Bit Shifter (he only made the menu music for the latter, however, as it has Silent Credits instead), CORE has Bubblyfish, VOID has Nullsleep, RUNNER has Anamanaguchi, and FATE has Minusbaby.
  • Spin-Off: BIT.TONIK, a collaboration between Gaijin Games and Robotube Games, made in a single day during Blip Fest 2009 in what was called the "BATTLE OF THE BRANDS". The gameplay is essentially a crossover of BIT.TRIP BEAT and Bloktonik. The Obvious Beta version available is what they managed to get done in a single day.
  • Springs Springs Everywhere: In RUNNER.
  • Sprite Polygon Mix: The playing field is simple 2D, the backgrounds are all 3D environments. (Except for VOID, but its cutscenes still feature them.)
    • Averted in RUNNER's Retro Stages, which are solely 2D.
  • Suicide Attack: CommaderVideo's Finishing Move on the Mingrawn Timbletot in FATE.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: CommandgirlVideo.
  • Theme Naming: Every game name except RUNNER and COMPLETE is only 4 characters long. In addition, most of them are pretty descriptive of gameplay: RUNNER is about... running, VOID has you controlling a movable black hole, and so on.
  • Tonight Someone Dies: FATE seems to have this going on -- even the WiiWare icon for the game has Black Blood dripping from it. And for even more credence, RUNNER's stinger had the Big Bad wishing death upon CommanderVideo.
    • And the Commander does die at the end of the game in a Suicide Attack.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: BEAT has you playing a game of Breakout for one boss and an authentic game of Pong for another, at which points the rhythm aspect of the game would be completely set aside.
    • Though if you listen closely, the bouncing of the ball from the walls and paddles does kinda follow the rhythm.
  • Variable Mix: The music gets a techno beat if you're in "Mega" mode (and above). If you go down to "Nether" mode, the music is turned off completely.
    • In games after BEAT, "Nether" has a metronome to help you out.
    • In FLUX, the music doesn't change, but instead the instrument used when Beats hit the paddle and leave the screen change - all the way up to a violin in Meta mode.
  • Viral Marketing: Used for BEAT and VOID. As Alex Neuse noted in this interview:

 There is a lot of content in the first viral campaign that won't make sense until sometime well into the future. Everything in that video has meaning in CommanderVideo's world.


  1. despite the similarity to Canabalt and games like it, the concept for this game was established independently before images of those games were released
  2. The 3DS version also came with a limited soundtrack provided it was preordered online via Gamestop
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