Price: $8 (800 Nintendo Points)
System(s): Wii (also available for PC)
Release Date: January 25, 2010
Publisher (Developer): Machine Studios (Unconditional Studios)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone”
Pros: Seven profiles/save slots, music is subdued yet appropriate, multiple control scheme options, simple to play, can move at your own pace, multiple game modes, mellow and wired difficulty modes, diamond blocks occasionally pop up to remove lots of bits and players can earn achievements.
Cons: You really do need to watch the incredibly brief tutorial video and it’d be nice if it explained right away that you need to make a certain number of squares to pass levels.
Overall Score: Two thumbs up, 95/100, A, * * * * 1/2 out of 5
Unconditional Studios and Machine created bittos+ to take familiar, block shapes from Tetris and other similar, block puzzle games and make players use then in a new, and somewhat unconventional way. While the goal, like in many block puzzle games, is to clear the screen and area, bittos+ does this in a manner that never seems forced or frantic, and allows players to enjoy the ambient music and sounds while pretty much undertaking the challenge at their own pace.
Form X amount of bittos (squares) to complete levels.
You need to be square to beat bittos+. Or, rather, think inside the box. The player is randomly given blocks made of squares, and coincidentally the shapes are all the ones you’d find in a Tetris style game. The goal is to make square shaped figures, usually 2×2 or 3×3 in size, which are called bittos. After you’ve successfully created bittos, you’ll receive points and they’ll eventually disappear from the playing field.
There are also bits in play. Bits are either on the screen at the start of a level, or accumulate from pieces of blocks that aren’t used to create bittos. The bits are red pieces that menace the player by taking up valuable screen space. However, they’re easily removed. If you can create a bittos next to one, it will disappear when the bittos does.
Essentially, you’re creating squares and rectangles. Each level has a quota, and you must create that many bittos to complete it. If you’re fast enough, you can chain together your bittos for more points. Doing well earns you achievements, which make you feel really good about yourself.
Simple, yet incredibly addictive.
I was really impressed by bittos+, but only after I experienced it. When I first saw the screenshots, I was quite skeptical and for some reason couldn’t grasp the concept. After I saw the first gameplay video and jumped into bittos+ for the first time, I was struck by its charm and the beauty and challenge that came from the endless creation of bittos. It’s an incredibly accomodating, addicting and amazing game. You’re constantly tasked with placing blocks and moving, and yet it all feels effortless and enjoyable.
The environment when playing bittos+ is quite important. The blocks are very clear and defined, and the bit pieces are a striking red that stand out among the other blocks. In addition, the background music and sound effects are quite soothing, and never distract you from your mission of constantly creating bittos. The appearance and ambiance of bittos+ compliment the gameplay nicely, making the game even more enjoyable.
There is only one thing that was a minor source of annoyance. When you begin bittos+ for the first time, you go through an extraordinarily brief and wordless tutorial, then are dropped into the first level. While the game is incredibly easy to figure out on its own, without any kind of instruction, it would have been nice if there were some explanation stating the square figure in the box on the left side of the screen is the square design you want to achieve, and that the little number on the right side of the screen, under the X-Y level number, is how many squares you must create to clear that level.
A stress-free, yet challenging, puzzle game.
I know this is going to sound funny, given that bittos+ is a puzzle game that does eventually get quite fast paced and frantic, but after a while I found it to be a relaxing, almost soothing experience. Without realizing it, I seemed to go on some kind of autopilot after I’d gotten used to the rhythm and pacing of bittos+. It was calming, and reassuring, and I didn’t feel the same stress and pressure that would eventually build with puzzle games like Tetris, Puyo or Bust a Move. True, it does get more challenging as you play, especially if you choose the wired difficulty level, but I can honestly say I always felt in control of the situation. Plus, the achievements provide ample incentive to keep playing and replaying the game.
Personally, I hope that if Nintendo brings demos back to WiiWare that a bittos+ demo is among them. I genuinely believe that it is the sort of game that you really have to experience to get hooked on it, as screenshots and gameplay videos alone don’t really do it justice.