I am a firm believer that small indie companies will one day completely overtake the third-party scene. With giants like THQ hitting the dust, their smaller counterparts now have the advantage to rise to the top; new engines, new tools, and smaller budgets are allowing their games to flourish on consoles due to the various digital marketplaces now available. Nintendo seems to share this view as well, as both the Wii U and the 3DS have become safe havens for indie games to be released. Bit Boy!! Arcade, a sequel to Bit Boy!! by developer Bplus, is another shining product of this revolution, with gorgeous graphics and solid writing.
It may sound shocking that there’s writing in an arcade-style game, but the story is actually one of the game’s main charms. You play as returning protagonist Kubi who, with the help of Bernd Geiblinger, the game’s real-life creator, must save the PixelFlies from being captured by the evil Shadow Plattchen while traveling through various worlds. Our protagonist is a grouchy little cube while Bernd is a bright and cheerful character; the banter between the two being very charming and rather comical, although it does tend to drag at certain times.
The Shadow Plattchen stand in the way of Kubi and his partner. One touch from them leads to death, but they can only move to the right, so you end up planning rather than going in blind to each level. Once Kubi collects all of the pixels, he transforms into Super Kubi, who moves very fast and can blast through his enemies to reach his goal. Each of the primary levels follows this format and it’s very satisfying to defeat some of the larger layouts as you are constantly on your toes. The golden PixelFlies on each level allow Kubi to unlock new worlds, entertaining boss battles, and even new story elements and endings.
There are twenty segments total per world — ten standard levels and ten \”action\” levels. Action levels have various items scattered throughout the level that Kubi may use to progress. They add a totally different puzzle element to the levels, as well as increasing the longevity of the game and keeping things fresh. As great as the level and item varieties are, none of it would matter if the game had control issues — which, thankfully, Bit Boy!! Arcade doesn\’t have. The game uses a simple, retro-style control scheme, with the 3DS\’ D-Pad and face buttons to move Kubi and the analog nub to control the camera. Using both the D-Pad and a face button at the same time move Kubi even faster. It’s simplistic and bare-bones, but it works very well, as any other type of control scheme would have felt too convoluted and unnecessary.
Bit Boy!! Arcade looks absolutely fantastic as well. The colors are very eye-catching, the textures are bright and crisp, and each world has a very distinct and detailed style. Boss battles are huge monsters and the 3D effects are utilized effectively with them, especially with the slider all the way up. I recently purchased a 3DS XL and the game just looks great on the large screen. Bit Boy!! Arcade also features full voice-acting between Kubi and Bernd and a great soundtrack as well. There are a few gripes about the game that detract from the experience slightly, though.
At times, Kubi and Bernd talk a little too much and sometimes, you just want to get to the next level. The game has a bit of a steep learning curve; some levels are maddeningly difficult and will really test your patience. There is also a unique continue system that utilizes Play Coins, with two Play Coins necessary to continue the level you left off on after Kubi exhausts five lives. I enjoyed the mechanic, as it added to the \”arcade\” feel of the game, but some players may be put off. Also, the leaderboard system is great for keeping track of scores, but I would have liked an option to upload them online to compare with other players.
Bit Boy!! Arcade is a game that took me by surprise, especially when you factor in the $7.99 price point. The game offers a beautiful visual style, tight gameplay, tons of levels and worlds to explore, and some great writing. The 3DS eShop is home to many great gems of games and Bit Boy!! Arcade is another one to add to the list. Kubi needs your help and I can wholeheartedly recommend you join him on his quest to save his pixel friends.