The simplest games are the ones that are the most devastating to your productivity, as anyone who has ever played Canabalt will attest.
Unfortunately, the endless runner genre that Canabalt spawned has been somewhat done to death on mobile platforms, due to the fact that it's a type of game that is easy to "monetize" (ugh) and inherently addictive -- ideal for manipulative, exploitative free-to-play games.
It's a brave developer, then, that chooses to launch a new endless runner game -- and an even braver one that does so without any irritating "get more gold" buttons vying for your credit card details. But that's exactly what Bit.Trip developer Gaijin Games has done with its latest release Commander Video.
It's surprising that Gaijin hasn't done this sooner, to be perfectly honest, given that Bit.Trip Runner already shared a lot of mechanics with the endless runner genre -- the clue's in the name, after all. So why has the company chosen to put out Commander Video now -- and, more to the point, for free, on the Web?
Well, it's actually a cleverly (well, all right, not that cleverly) disguised advertisement for the company's most recent game Bit.Trip Runner 2, which recently came out on pretty much every platform in the known universe (except Vita, though apparently that's coming soon, and except for 3DS, which isn't). Bit.Trip Runner 2 (or "Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien" if we're going to be official about this) retains the series' signature rhythm-action platform gameplay but replaces the trademark Bit.Trip super-pixelated style with a more LittleBigPlanet-esque aesthetic. Those who felt shocked and appalled at this strong change in visual style will, however, be pleased to note that Commander Video still looks like an Atari 2600 game and sports some rockin' chiptune music.
Is it any good? Well, it's all right, I suppose; the controls don't feel quite as tight and accurate as the standalone Bit.Trip Runner games, which can be a little frustrating. It's a fun little experience, though, and the addition of online leaderboards means that those of you who are feeling really bored and need a new way to measure your e-peen (or equivalent thereof) against your friends can indulge in a bit of friendly rivalry. Gaijin also has some contests planned for the near future, with those topping the leaderboard and performing particularly well putting themselves in the running (no pun intended) for some as-yet unannounced prizes.
Check out the game here.