HoPiKo Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: Laser Dog

Publisher: Merge Games

Release Date: 10/01/2019

Price as of Article: $9.99 USD, £8.99 GBP

Game code provided by Merge Games for review

Story

A virus called Nanobyte has infected all gaming consoles and gaming is over. It’s up to you to save gaming forever.

Gameplay

Wow, this is fast! I mean, I completed 5 stages in about 10 seconds. This has to be one of the most frenetic, fastest games I have ever played; brutal twitch-based gameplay which will use every ounce of muscle memory.

I personally love games like this because I have always enjoyed a game of quick reactions. This is a platformer where your character is fixed in position, you aim and release to the next platform. Hell, sometimes you don’t even need to aim! Just fire your little man at breakneck speeds from one platform to the next until you destroy the virus.

The goal is simple; get from one part of the level to the other, as quickly as possible without dying. Simply point where you want your little guy to jump by aiming the analogue stick in a direction and release to make it to your next destination and jump again. Miss your target and it’s death. It’s you versus the levels, there are no enemies to face more like enemies to avoid like those nasty bytes out to stop you getting to where you need to go. There are lots of clever little touches which make levels increasingly more challenging the further you get.

Avoid lasers, traps and all sorts of moving contraptions where physics is the name of the game. Aim your little man on the edge of a ledge to spin it around to it disturbs a laser aimed at you before jumping into a cannon, and quickly firing at breakneck speed out of the cannon to bust into the virus before the closing of a nanobyte trap ends you. You will fail, multiple times, but as you get better, there is nothing more satisfying than moving through levels at a pace I don’t think I have seen in my gaming life.

It’s so simple yet feels so satisfying. The controls, for the most part, are tight. But you will get caught out sometimes with the release of the analogue stick if you choose to use physical controls. The bonus in handheld mode is having the option for touchscreen controls. If you happen to have an error of judgement and fly into a trap or wall, then death ensues and you start the mini 5 stage run again from the beginning. It’s no big deal, such is the rapid nature of getting through the stages. I mean, some stages take under a second to complete so 5 stages is around 10-30 seconds.

Once the 5 stages are complete, you get an overall time, whether you did each stage quick enough to obtain a star, and whether you were able to take a quick diversion for the added challenge to pick up the floating cassette littered around each world. If you collect a mini Gameboy you will unlock new chip-tunes which is fantastic. Within each level, you are able to obtain 5 stars for each mini stage within. 

You will be able to zoom through them quicker once you know their shortcuts and pitfalls, and it feels more awesome the better you get. The game is a challenge and it rewards players that keep trying and don’t give up. This is a little hardcore, but in an age where games reward you for pretty much anything, this is a refreshing take from the developer and one I wholly appreciated. It made me work to unlock speed run mode, new chiptunes and bonus levels – and I mean really work dammit but in a fun way.

My biggest disappointment is the lack of an online leaderboard to compete with friends and the world. This game is begging for that, and while boasting to friends about my times is nice, there is nothing more this game needs other than the inclusion of leaderboards. It would have 100% given this game a massive increase in replayability. This game was just made for posting your times! 

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Audio

This is a soundtrack done right! The chip-tunes are varied and there are 14 tracks to unlock. I enjoyed listening to them while playing, the tracks are not shy in letting you know that you are in a fast paced game here.

Visuals & Performance

The visuals are the most simple you are ever going to get, but this game is not here to show how good its visuals are. The levels use a minimal palette of a few colours each. Each world has its own set of colours, red and black or yellow and black etc. It’s super basic but it gets the job done, this one is all about the gameplay, and in that, it excels.

Value

On Switch this will cost you £6.29 GBP with the 30% discount if you are quick, otherwise it will go up to £8.99 but you can buy this on an android device like your phone or tablet for £1.49, or for £1.99 on the Apple store. For consoles: on Xbox, it’s still only £5.59 and on PlayStation it’s only £1 as it’s currently on sale. 

The benefit here is having both physical controls and touch controls, all in one, which no other version of the game can offer. Whatever platform you choose, you will have a great time. The game has plenty of replay value because even when you complete the 100 or so stages, there are bonus stages to play, you will probably want to get even faster times, and there is also a nice Speed Run Mode. 

 

Pros

P

Fast pace platforming 

P

Addictive 

Cons

P

Needs an online Leaderboard