Life Intervenes: Bit.Trip Runner

It was a Friday evening. I’d had a rough week. My grandmother died, and the memorial service had been that afternoon. We weren’t particularly close, but these sorts of things always take their toll on me. So I was looking for a game to unwind with. I’d just bought Bit.Trip Runner as part of the most recent Humble Bundle (as of this post, it’s still ongoing, so I encourage you, reader, to throw some money towards a good cause, and get some quality indie games in the bargain) and thought that a nice, cheerful, quirky, retro music-platformer would be just the type of game to distract me.

Now, about the memorial service: for reasons that I can’t really explain, a decision was made to have Christmas carols sung instead of more traditional hymns. O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy To The World, and Silent Night.

So I turn on the game, and what’s the first thing I hear, greeting me at the main menu? A cheery, chip-tune version of Silent Night. Beyond that this is an inherently odd choice for a game focused on the power of sound, it was amazingly effective at keeping my mind on my troubles and preventing me from getting immersed in the game. It turns out that the game had just recently done an update for the holiday season and inserted the song.

I did try playing the game, and when things worked, it was a lot of fun. Hearing the cheery music build while through the surreal, colourful world is great (though the candy-cane streaks that trail behind the character on a good run were another distracting reminder.) But the levels are just long enough that missing a button and having to go back to the start is frustrating (though it’s nice that the music keeps going and doesn’t skip a beat.)

I know it’s irrational, but because of that menu music, I’m always going to resent the game just a little. It’s a neat little game, but I’m forever going to associate it with the lousy day I had, and how it made it just that little bit worse.

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