Games like Bit Pilot are why I love the iPhone. Before the thought enters your head I will acknowledge what I just said; game reviews can be a haven for hyperbole, and especially when their scores lay near the far ends of the quality spectrum. I don’t give this praise to Bit Pilot lightly, and I can say with confidence that anyone looking for retro themed fun cannot do any better than Bit Pilot on the iPhone. Any game that I will play until my eyes hurt and then wait impatiently until my next play session is a winner in my eyes, although not literally I suppose.
To drag out the unsightly gag: when playing Bit Pilot, what you see is exactly what you get. The gameplay in the first seconds of the game does not differ greatly from what you will be playing as you progress. Those looking for a deep game with plenty of modes may be saddened to hear that Bit Pilot has just the one, but the single mode is entertaining all on its own. Bit Pilot is about dodging things, be it asteroids or lasers you do not want anything to touch your ship with the exception of bonus providing pills. Swipe the screen with one or two fingers to move your ship, and stay alive as long as possible. As one racks up the points, the game becomes increasingly difficult by throwing more diversely sized objects into the tiny plot of space that your ship is allowed to occupy. The more you play, the more music, difficulties, and wallpaper you can unlock.
Bit Pilot inhabits the same space as games like Geometry Wars, but trades in the neon riddled graphics for 8 bit ones and plays a bit more like Pacifism mode in that your primary objective is avoidance of deadly objects. Much like the recent Dark Void Zero on DSiWare, Bit Pilot feels like a lost classic and comes complete with catchy 8 bit style music and the simplicity associated with games of that era. This does not mean that Bit Pilot sacrifices quality for simplicity, for example elements such as the multi-touch controls are top notch. These controls do take a while to get used to, but with time they become second nature and extremely efficient.
While most play sessions of Bit Pilot last only a couple of minutes you will find yourself playing for long extents of time. To gain unlocks, all the game asks is that you raise your cumulative score. This means that even though I only currently average around ten thousand per round, I can achieve updates by just playing enough. Bit Pilot is the kind of game that I can only get better at after entering a trance-like state, and if I lose myself in the game long enough I will usually change something in the way I play that raises my average score. Even with the game counting your cumulative score, high scores still matter since Bit Pilot has full OpenFeint integration with leaderboards and achievements. This game is one of the few that I actually feel compelled to better my high score in simply because I am motivated to place higher on the leaderboards.
Bit Pilot could stand to ramp up a little more slowly, because at times it feels as if the game goes from a cakewalk to nigh impossible in a matter of seconds. Some of the randomized elements in the game could also stand to have some boundaries placed on them; the presence of the pill upgrades that give one thousand points and raise the difficulty level seem to be completely random. At the beginning of some plays I will have four to five 1000 point pills fly at me, and in others they are much more scarce. The same can be said for health pills that rarely show up in some rounds and when they do there are about fifty asteroids between the pill and the ship. These are small complaints, and since it is so easy to just start another round in Bit Pilot I have never dwelt on them too long.
I recommend Bit Pilot to everyone that is up to the challenge. Bit Pilot’s upbeat retro songs alone warrant the 99 cent purchase. The intensity of the game may not be for everyone, and the relatively small amount of content may annoy some, but for me I can think of few better ways to spend a dollar.
Bit Pilot is available for $.99 on the App Store
This game was reviewed on a 2nd gen device