BiT Evolution begins with a wayward Pong ball suddenly imbued with life and out to start a journey across a variety of worlds based on different stages of retro-style games. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s very similar to the premise behind A Pixel Story, which I reviewed previously. For better or worse, though, that’s about the end of the similarities between the two titles. A simple platformer with complex jumping puzzles and a unique gimmick, BiT Evolution definitely tries to stand on its own, but seems to fall short in several ways.
BiT Evolution follows the adventure of the former Pong ball, now called BiT, the primary purpose of which seems to be figuring out the purpose of the adventure. Each of the game’s four worlds emulates increasingly-modern game styles, starting from the Atari 2600 and ending with the SNES. Along the way, BiT must overcome a variety of enemies, obstacles, and tricky jumps to reach the end of each stage. Each world, of course, ends with a boss battle that will put the player’s skills to the test and unlock the next chapter in BiT’s tale.
Sprinkled throughout BiT Evolution are a huge number of referential jokes playing on classic titles including the Pokemon and Mario series, Sonic the Hedgehog, Adventure, and plenty more. Playing off of its own admission of derivative content, the game also includes a pretty cool gimmick that mixes up gameplay. The world of BiT Evolution is divided into two distinct sections: the ‘Rendered World’, and the ‘Code World’. While most inhabitants of either only exist in their own natural state, BiT can pass between them in a fashion. Dying in the Rendered World sends him to the Code World, where he must find a portal to return home. Death in the Code World is a bit more final.
The problem that BiT Evolution suffers from most, I think, is a lack of gamepad support. While I’m sure it’s not a simple toss-in for many indie developers, I really think it’s a must-have in precision-based platformers. The simple fact is that keyboard controls just don’t lend themselves to the style of play. A lot of the levels, especially later on, turn very frustrating very quickly since a mis-timed jump can mean immediate death in both worlds and starting over from scratch, though each level does sport a flagpole “checkpoint” to lessen this a bit. Still, it’s tough to get over, especially as one of the later boss battles effectively removes the Code World from viability by making every surface an instant-kill spike trap.
All in all, BiT Evolution offers a pretty solid, classic platformer game with just enough to it to make it interesting and plenty of tongue-in-cheek wit to be amusing. Play definitely gets frustrating, and the light story isn’t much to chew on, but there’s still flashes of inspiration and plenty of fun. The game offers up 60 levels, though many are pretty short, so the $9.99 price on Steam may be a bit much. Still, a 25% off sale as of this writing may make it more worth your while if you’re a dedicated fan of classically-inspired run-and-jump titles.