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Game Review #096: HoPiKo (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Frankie W.

Developer: Laser Dog

Publisher: Merge Games

Category: Platformer, Arcade

Release Date: 01.10.2019

Price (at time of review): $9.99

Buy HoPiKo from the Nintendo eShop here.

Must Save Gaming!

HoPiKo? More like good lord push my skills to the test and develop a MASSIVE amount of muscle memory because of how insanely-paced this game is! HoPiKo took me by surprise without a doubt. I was not expecting such an intense and satisfying game out of this, but here I am glued to my couch still playing this wild game! It has that “just one more level” thing going on, and before you know it, you’ve been playing a few hours trying to grind out that one second faster run so you can get credit for beating the course’s par time. This game challenges you to find quicker ways to beat it than the obvious way presented, and I’ve managed to do some pretty crazy things in the name of a couple milliseconds of a faster run; and that, my friends, is one hell of a positive aspect!

HoPiKo will have you not wanting to put it down. The atmosphere it crafts with its crisp graphics and rocking soundtrack is not one you will quickly put behind you, because in this game you have a very important objective: you have to save gaming!

Every Millisecond Counts

HoPiKo, at its core, would be… a twitch platformer? This game places heavy emphasis on fine tuning your runs to be as quick as humanly possible, and finding out ways to shave off precious milliseconds to your run. This is not your traditional run-around-and-jump platformer either. You will be shooting yourself from platform to platform at incredible speeds. The difference in your first couple runs of a level and the run where you actually beat the level (which is comprised of five different stages you have to beat in one life) is insane! You will have maps that seem to have TONS of problems at first, but give it a few minutes and you will be banging out high scores like no one's business!

The simple tap of the A-button will rocket you off of your current platform at the angle at which it is set. This is often used for when you need to have some very tight timing to clear a gap, or as a technique to figure out where you can fit it in with its high speed in order to progress quickly; and trust me, you will HAVE to master this—as well as know what angles at which you are going to launch—if you want to have any speed-running success in this game.

Your other option in the game, movement wise, is to use the analog stick to shoot yourself off at a slower speed, but from a variety of angles. It's amazing that these two movement options, mixed with all the things this game throws at you, creates a HUGE variety of ways to move and interact with the levels as you try to find the fastest way to beat a set of levels without dying! There are normal platforms, platforms that flip you to the opposite side, platforms that make you go faster, platforms that explore, and platforms that move based on what part you land on!

They just KEEP adding new things to this game as you progress through levels. Everything feels very natural, and the game gives you ample time to figure out the mechanics of new things it introduces, so it never feels overwhelming. It's also nice when they start having existing mechanics interact in new ways as well. It all feels very organic in how the game interacts with itself, and it all just clicks so nicely!

Audio & Visuals

This game has a KILLER soundtrack! I looooove me some good pulse-pounding chiptunes, and this game filled that urge for me without a doubt! The sounds were all actually made on appropriate hardware as well, so you get that classic sound we are looking for. The game lets you pick what songs you want to listen to as well if you find a favorite, but honestly they are all SO GOOD! I really enjoyed the tunes—I happen to be listening to them as I write this right now! Ya know, gotta get the right mood and all that jazz! The sound effects are also great; all very hard retro sounds, which I love. It sounds like an 80s arcade!

This game’s visual design is a simple retro design, but it is all still very pleasing, using complementary colors to make things pop, and the design is never really confusing visually, which is important with the lightning-fast pace at which this game operates.

Wrapping Up

Featuring over 100 stages, speed running modes, modes to play entire sets of levels where you can’t die without restarting them all, as well as online leaderboards, there is no shortage of things to do in this awesome game. HoPiKo is lovingly crafted for speed runners and lovers of challenging platformers alike, and it bleeds that identity at every cut. This is $9.99 well spent for sure. HoPiKo will keep you glued to your Switch for hours, swearing at yourself but coming back for more, and that my friends, is why HoPiKo gets an 8/10! Now get out there and save gaming for the rest of us!

Score: 8/10

Buy HoPiKo from the Nintendo eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided by Merge Games

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