HoP, HoP, HoP, HoPiRound
Do you love brutally challenging platformers with breakneck speeds that require near perfect movement? How about lit chiptune soundtracks that will have you humming along and/or your heart racing?
Then you might want to consider giving HoPiKo a play. Those easily infuriated by difficulty may need to look elsewhere.
At first glance, HoPiKo just looked like another one of those extremely difficult platformers to me, but upon closer examination, it is so much more than that. First off, this isn’t a traditional platformer, as you aren’t running and jumping but instead quickly aiming your character’s trajectory before blasting off in that direction. The goal here is simple: quickly traverse between platforms while avoiding enemies and obstacles until you can burst through the eye of a virus.
A virus? You may be asking. Yeah, a console virus. You’re playing as a HoPiKo character that has been enslaved by the Nanobyte viruses. HoPiKo are the race of characters that run the games behind the scenes, or so the story goes. A simple yet functional setting, not that it matters much as there is little more to it that that.
The real meat here is the hundreds of levels to traverse. The developers do a nice job of constantly sprinkling in new gameplay mechanics throughout the levels to keep things fresh. For example, when you first start you’ll be jumping between stationary platforms, while later there will be moving platforms that explode after three seconds while enemies are constantly chasing you through the level.
If that sounds hard, it is because it is. Very hard. It also doesn’t help that levels consist of five stages that you have to complete all in one go or go back to the first stage. This causes a lot of repetition, which is something I typically frown upon, especially in this case since it is literally punishing the player by forcing them to replay stages they may have already mastered.
HoPiKo would have benefited greatly from having a few different difficulty levels (as could Dark Souls) or allowing players the choice to not have to play in five stage chunks. I’m the kind of person where I like to just complete the game sometimes, instead of feeling like I mastered it. I’m in it for the experience, not the bragging rights. [Jeditor’s Note: In b4 “Git Gud” is commented.]
“HoPiKo would have benefited greatly from having a few different difficulty levels”
To make matters worse I also experienced a number of bugs including glitching through platforms, unexplained deaths, and the sound effects ceasing to work for certain stages. While these glitches didn’t crop up frequently, they certainly happened enough to be worth mentioning, especially considering they make an already brutal game more so.
While the difficulty and bugs are annoying, HoPiKo does a lot right. The gameplay is something different in a sea of Super Meat Boy clones, the art style is great, and the soundtrack is a bumping chiptune masterpiece made with authentic classic console hardware.
If you can overlook the difficulty, you’ll probably have a great time with HoPiKo. Even if you’re an ‘old man’ like me whose hand-eye coordination isn’t what it used to be. Oh, and one last thing, play with a controller, as mouse and keyboard controls leave a bit to be desired.