Thanks to Sometimes You for the review code
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 06/23/2021
In a strange, futuristic society, you take control of brave warriors seeking to defeat waves of enemies in order the escape the fourth wall. A pretty silly plot that’s just an excuse to get firing, in this blocky overhead shooter!
Bitmaster goes for a blocky, low-poly look, with a lot of the enemies being simplistic shapes and formations, while your main character is pretty simple as well: everything just feels like it could in theory work as a N64/PSOne game, and the style works great in that aspect: sadly, the same cannot be said for the music and sound effects, which are boring and forgettable, and the visual effects at times can get rather annoying: one of the random hazards you can encounter is an effect that makes the level glow obnoxiously. Still, for a twin-stick shooter it isn’t at all a bad time.
Bitmaster is a top-down shooter, where the main objective is to clear wave after waves of enemies homing your way, by aiming with both sticks and using the top shoulder buttons to fire. Controlling like a pretty typical twin-stick, you start off with a pretty basic character and set of weapons, and slowly gain points over the course of your run attempts in order to unlock more heroes and perks to use.
You traverse each map by hunting down the wave of enemies, all while keeping in mind the surrounding area and their effects on you, since they randomly shuffle around the map and your placement impacts just what buffs or debuffs will come your way, along with various weapons you can pickup that randomly spawn, from a typical pea shooter, to a boomerang wave attack, a sparky shot, and a few others. These weapons can be switched between on the fly once you get them until your run is over, so there’s plenty of time to find a favorite, and eventually you’ll reach a boss if you hang in long enough.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find much of any enjoyment with Bitmaster. The pacing is really slow, the scoring isn’t exactly that great and the game doesn’t have any of the hook or satisfying loop that a scorechaser is supposed to have. I feel part of that comes from the roguelike aspects, since the need to grind constantly to unlock new characters and level up does little to benefit the game and make it addicting , and rather just makes it a boring grind. I feel if it was more like Xenon Valkyire in some regards and had a good gameplay loop enhanced by roguelike elements, rather than the roguelike elements feeling like padding as they do here, then Bitmaster could have at least gotten a fun factor down. As it stands now however, the game is just boring and takes far too long for the pace to pick up and become interesting, which for a scorechaser is just not fun at all, and I found myself unmotivated to even reach any bosses, despite getting really darn close one time. To me, it just felt like the waves barely changed or ever got exciting, and by the time the pace started to pick up, it had been plenty of minutes.
In conclusion, Bitmaster is just average at best, with me finding the overall loop to be serviceable, but not much else. The roguelike aspects of grinding levels and constantly trying again to gain gradual upgrades and new characters seem cool at first, but the slow pacing just doesn’t work for a scorechaser like this, and I found these aspects to be more discouraging of future run attempts, rather than motivating me to go for yet another attempt to see how far I can survive.
Still, the powerups are neat, the controls are fine enough, and the game controls well, but the rest of the package is just so generic and uninteresting I can’t exactly be for or against this game in the grand scheme of things, since for a bit more you could buy one of many better top-down shooters on the eShop like Iron Crypticle, yet this game isn’t badly made or anything. It just exists, and feels more apt as a pick up and play time waster with missed potential.
I give Bitmaster a 4 out of 10.