The gameplay is fun, but the lore is also an important part of the BIT.TRIP series. From the cutscenes to the backgrounds to even the names of the levels themselves, the BIT.TRIP story conveys a deep message. This page will explain all about it, starting with the first game—BIT.TRIP BEAT.
BEAT focuses on the birth of CommanderVideo and his cognitive development as a mere infant to his early childhood. He learns how to move his limbs, and eventually achieves a sentient state of mind, speaking his first words, "I AM ONLY A MAN." at the conclusion.
The music in the first stage of the game is ambient and relaxing, like he is fascinated by the world around him. The background features a massive orb dubbed the "Strange Planet" or "Strange Planetoid" by fans, as well as a comet. The planet has often been compare to an egg cell, one of the two halves of necessity for reproduction. Likewise, the comet is sometimes conflated with a sperm cell, though the more likely case is that it's merely a piece of the cosmos.
The cutscene shows him learning how to walk. He falls down and the gets back up, starting the level.
The name Descent implies that he is visiting the underworld. The deep Drum & Bass music also adds to the theme of this level. This signifies the part of CommanderVideo's life where he starts to face minor problems.
The cutscene shows CommanderVideo getting bonked on the head by a beat, and then he gets back up, starting the level.
This is when CommanderVideo starts to learn basic things, which explains why the backgrounds of this level show everyday things like trees, houses, and vehicles, while also mostly showing a picture of CommanderVideo's brain.
At the end of the game, it shows that he knows how to walk and do basic things. Then he enters what looks like a portrait of his ancestors.
CORE picks up where BEAT left off. The young CommanderVideo has achieved sentience, but the world around him is still very large an intimidating. He begins seeking the comfort of his parents, but by the end of his journey, he has developed the resolve to enable him to persevere despite how scary and unknown the world around him is. In his eagerness to venture forth, he accidentally strikes a comrade, knocking them over. He then states, "I AM NOT ALONE."
This level is about CommanderVideo discovering the outside world. He also discovers the new mode Super, which explains why he keeps learning new modes as the games go on because he still learns things even after he is grown up.
Exploration & Control
CommanderVideo continues to make observations of the environment. His parents are helping him along the way while also doing their job—explaining the cutscenes. The Control and ending cutscenes shows that he now knows how to fly through space. He also knows how to dance and he is proud of it. Although he might have been a little too proud, because he bumped one of his parents when he was doing so.
VOID details the development of CommanderVideo's ego and emotions. He begins the game shoving his resolve and sense of self-worth in the faces of everyone he meets. They eventually tire of this and work together to knock CommanderVideo down a peg. CommanderVideo backtracks and realises that being kind to others is much better than his previous behavior, and makes amends with those he hurt. He joins hands with his comrades, finally achieving the height of his growth, and shouts, "I AM READY!"
His self-discovery complete, CommanderVideo gains the impetus he needs to start running. RUNNER is less about his further emotional growth, and more about the places he travels to and the people he meets. CommanderVideo gradually tires of the imagery in each new location, and comes into contact with Mingrawn Timbletot, who seems unable to be reasoned with. After defeating this new adversary, he confronts CommanderVideo and his friends and declares loudly, "YOU ARE NOT A MAN!" before fleeing into the cosmos, where CommanderVideo and friends give chase.
The darkest and most somber of the Hexalogy, this game focuses of CommanderVideo's personal limits. CommanderVideo's only wish is to befriend the Timbletot, but as the latter continuously rebuffs the Commander's attempts, CV becomes progressively more unhinged and exhausted. As he gives into his anger, CommanderVideo loses all rationality, and sacrifices himself to kill the Timbletot once and for all. Though his friends are safe from the Timbletot, CommanderVideo himself is no more, as his soul leaves his body and begins ascending to the next plane of existence.
FLUX is the final stretch for CommanderVideo. Having died in the previous game, FLUX features the Commander viewing his life from an exterior perspective. He learns to accept his demise and let go of the things he held dear in life, while also becoming satisfied with the life he was able to have.
With this sudden loss, CommanderVideo keeps moving forward, on the path to the afterlife (as seen in the backgrounds of the levels).
He sees the world in an all new way. The 5 symbols in the cutscene represent the past 5 games.
His mind and soul are being cleared. After the final bossfight is over, he recognizes that the symbols were a picture of his personality and himself as a whole. Then he returns home, which looks different than what he first remembered when he was young.
After all is said and done, CommanderVideo's soul has finally let go of its mortal bondage, and ascends into the light, playing one final game of BEAT as he goes. Eventually, the light becomes so blinding that CommanderVideo inevitably loses the game, setting him free in one, absolute, final GAME OVER.
CommanderVideo's BIT.TRIP has come to an end.
Runner2 was explicitly stated to not be canon to the rest of the series, but despite this, was also designed to fit snugly between RUNNER and FATE. This is explained away as the game's setting suffering from time dilation, where CommanderVideo spent several months in this new world trying to find his way out, only to find no time had passed in his world.
The opening cutscene shows the crew chasing after Mingrawn Timbletot after the conclusion of RUNNER. In an effort to stall their pursuit, Timbletot fires a "Reality Unfusion Beam" at them. CommanderVideo, in an effort to protect his comrades, jumps in front of the beam, taking the brunt of its force and resulting in him being transported into the colourful, zany world of Runner2. CommanderVideo then spends three months helping the denizens of this new world as he searches for a way back home, ultimately finding a portal back home inside of an innocuous Broom Closet. After one final fight with Timbletot in the BIT.TRIP, CommanderVideo reunites with his team and they continue giving chase with Timbletot, leading into BIT.TRIP FATE.
Also, another speculation is that in the Bit. Trip world, there are references to the older levels in the background. This may mean that CommanderVideo here is the CommanderVideo in the intro of Beat, before he makes a new CommanderVideo. This might also explain why Flux is backwards-- because since CommanderVideo is deflecting the beats backward, the beats in the Beat intro are the Flux beats giving life to the next CommanderVideo.
Runner3 is not canon at all. Unlike Runner2, which was made to fit between RUNNER and FATE, Runner3 has zero ties to any of the previous games other than its immediate predecessor, as it takes place in the same whimsical world.
There is a chance, however, that Runner3 can take place in a different timeline, and he defeats Timbletot succesfully instead of his anger overtaking him in FATE. There is no evidence of this in the games, though, and only a speculation.
There might also only be 2 timelines (1 normal and 2 hard) and after the hard timeline is complete CommanderVideo is taken to the afterlife.
Bit. Trip Complete
Another speculation is that in Bit. Trip Complete, there is a hard mode and different challenges. The hard mode can be in a different Timeline (e. g. after Flux where he is reborn back into Beat) but with a challenge.