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Insert Credit: “Bit.Trip.Beat”

Insert Credit: “Bit.Trip.Beat” (photo)

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Insert Credit endeavors to suss out where you should be allotting your video game allowance, sifting out a single title from many and crowning it as The One Game You Need to Get This Week. Don’t consider these reviews, gentle reader. Rather, think of Insert Credit as a mix of hands-on time, informed opinion and intuition.

For the week of September 27, 2010, you should insert credit into: “Bit.Trip.Beat”

There’s a lot to be said for simplicity. Video games nowadays have 5.1 Dolby surround sound, finely detailed realistic graphics and control schemes that demand serious dedication to master. And over the last few years, the retro games movement has responded with a blossoming of games that harken back to the days of the Atari 2600 or the NES. These games mine gamers’ collective memory with blocky graphics, 8-bit soundtracks and minimal controls. Mileage tends to vary as whether these titles exist as nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake or actually have clever new gameplay mechanics.

“Bit.Trip.Beat” is hardcore retro, in every meaning of the phrase. Crafted by Gaijin Games, it originally landed on Nintendo’s WiiWare download service last year. The version I’m recommending this week is the iOS iteration. “B.T.B” just debuted on the iTunes Store this week and it’s well worth your cash.

It’s basically an ode to “Pong,” which tasks players to rebound blocks that come from the right side of the screen. But the guys and gals at Gaijin add a few wrinkles that make the elementary gameplay more tense. Meters at the top and bottom measure your success and if you miss too any beats, then you go into the Nether Zone. This near-death overlay looks just like Pong did back in the day: black field with stark-white moving elements. Rebound enough beats in Nether and you win your way back to glorious color. The simple play of “B.T.B” gets thrown a few curves with beats that bend, come at angles and in double and triple formation. The electronic music is great and the difficulty is very challenging. Yet, the urge to create epic combos and notch ever-higher scores will keep you coming back.

Controls differ from iPhone and iPad. On the smaller iDevice, you tilt to control the cursor. In an odd way, this feels very reminiscent of spinning the paddles of the original Pong controllers. It’s tough to be as precise as required but that’s part of the challenge. “Bit.Trip.Beat HD” for the iPad lets players use a finger anywhere on the screen to move the cursor. This gives more precision but all the real estate on the screen makes the chaos feel a little less manageable. If you had to choose between the two, I’d go the iPod/iPhone version as it feels slightly more playable.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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