HoPiKo (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 25.01.2019

Review for HoPiKo on Nintendo Switch

Speedrunners have brought into being a whole subgenre of platformers; games like Super Meat Boy and N++ that require lightning-fast reflexes, and punish even the slightest misstep; games that revel in the frustration of their players. Developer Laser Dog is putting its own spin on that genre, bringing a platformer that doesn't require jumping, rather, launching. HoPiKo is all about fast reflexes and punishing difficulties, as the pixelated heroes are blasted off at blistering speed into deadly stages - there are more deaths than Dark Souls waiting in here...

HoPiKo actually has something of a story, though it's perfunctory, and, honestly, quite superfluous to the whole draw of the game. The titular 'HoPiKo' are tiny sprite beings on the noblest of causes: they're trying to save gaming from the evil virus-like creatures known as Nanobytes. The Nanobytes have infected all the consoles of the world, and the little HoPiKo who controlled the videogames have been enslaved. To do so, these beings have to fling themselves through danger to reach and crash into the little ocular invaders, avoiding obstructions like deadly Sticklebricks (one for the old generation) and deadly lasers, bouncing and springing from platform to platform to reach their retro enslavers.

Screenshot for HoPiKo on Nintendo Switch

What this actually comes down to, is flinging little sprite characters from platform to platform - this isn't a run-with-the-d-pad-or-analogue, and jump-with-a-button type experience. It's aiming the HoPiKo using the analogue, then releasing them. They can shoot off in a direction, but otherwise, they are stuck to wherever they land. It's all geometry; aim the HoPiKo between obstacles and release. Sounds simple, but in reality, it is one of the most punishing platformers in recent memory.

The first couple of levels just require some simple aiming, landing in safe zones and avoiding the odd spikey obstacle before bursting into the Nanobyte of the stage, but this very quickly develops into moving platforms, spinning platforms, revolving obstacles, timed sections. It's all of the trickiest elements of modern platforming and they come thick and fast. The best thing about these stages though, is they're never really unfair or cheap. New elements are easy to learn, the patterns of and each obstruction is easy to identify, but knowing what's coming and knowing what needs to be done is completely different from achieving it. This will require numerous retries to actually progress

Screenshot for HoPiKo on Nintendo Switch

...And there is a lot to progress through, as there are over 100 levels here, and very few will be able to see them all. Each level is split up into five stages - allow the HoPiKo to die on one, and get sent all the way back to the first. These are called 'Runs.' They will make the majority of the audience lose their temper, and some to even go for that uninstall button, all the while screaming profanity and/or smashing up the nearest thing.

For the truly gifted gamers out there who are able to overcome every run, don't worry, there are extra levels of challenge to ensure your sanity is also destroyed. There's a speedrun element to every stage, along with a little GameBoy icon collectible to track down. These reward new themes that are great, but more on this later. There are also extra runs to unlock, and best of all two new modes to unlock, both of which spike up the difficulty even further.

Screenshot for HoPiKo on Nintendo Switch

The Switch version has implemented a nice feature from the game's Android roots: touch screen controls. Considering the regular method of aiming with an analogue can sometimes be a bit hit or miss when the HoPiKo is rotating or moving at high speed, this is a decent alternative. However, the price point is a little high, considering its price on Android - it's hard to see what justifies getting here over Android.

Considering this was also on Android, the presentation is obviously not going to blow anyone away with its presentation, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It's gone for a simplistic, retro aesthetic which achieves what it's aiming for, and fits with the overall theme. The real star though is the soundtrack. There are 15 tracks - if the collectibles are all tracked down. These toe-tapping chiptunes were all created on an original GameBoy, they are absolutely marvellous, and will have retry lovers smiling ear-to-ear.

Screenshot for HoPiKo on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Those without the calmest of dispositions need not apply. HoPiKo is the type of game that can quite easily cost the lives of a few controllers, and on Switch that could get a little pricey for those who like to play in handheld mode. Few will enjoy this, but those that do, will bloody love it this punishing, maddening, insane, brutal, and brilliant pain in the behinds. Those looking to be truly challenged, buy this now.

Developer

Laser Dog

Publisher

Merge Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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