If you are old enough have fondly nostalgic memories of games such as Donkey Kong or Pac-Man, you will also remember they were designed as a pattern, and true skill was found in those who could remember every intricate detail a game had to offer. Every move required precision timing, and the very best could hit that perfect score. HoPiKo is no different, taking inspiration from these old school games.
Once HoPiKo loads up, you are given a brief introduction to the story. HoPiKo lives inside is inside every gaming console, but the evil Nanobyte virus a virus has found its way into consoles, ruining gaming for everyone. It’s up to you to eliminate the infection and save gaming!
HoPiKo is fast and simple, but by no means easy. RB and the right thumb stick is all that’s needed to play this game, giving you a spare hand to do whatever pleases you. The idea is to use RB to move in a straight line forward only, whilst the stick is to aim in the direction you’d like to go; accompanied with a directional guide to help you get your bearings, and make it across the virus-filled levels.
These levels are arranged in groups of five called ‘runs’. Once you complete a run of five levels, you may proceed to the next run. However, if you fail and die at any point during your run, you must start from the beginning of that particular run. At first, this seems daunting, but due to absent loading screens, you’ll soon be whizzing back into it; especially with the earlier runs taking next-to-no-time to complete.
Foolery comes in all forms as this title eases you into a false sense of security, giving you immense pleasure from completing these early runs but, before you know it, things quickly change up and you need to react in an instant. Quickly it’s start, fail, restart the run, reach the point you last failed at, successfully make it through, only to die again on the next section. Rinse and repeat. With each incremental success, you memorise each level’s challenges and progress just that little bit further.
This is a trial and error game that requires heavy use of your cranium, but don’t let that put you off. You won’t even notice you’re using it! This game likes to keep you on your toes, too; staying still for more than a few seconds will cause your platform to blow up, instantly taking you with it.
As you progress, levels and runs become more complex, with new mechanics – certain runs in HoPiKo require you to shoot from one barrel to another at the right time, and elements combine in different ways to necessitate split second timing. After you pass World 1, you’ll purely be relying on your memory skills to pass each run. Once a world is complete, you open up the next world, alongside Speed Run and Hardcore modes.
Speed Run is exactly what you think it is: Accomplish all ten runs from a world in the best time possible. Restarts are allowed, but the clock keeps ticking. However, Hardcore mode is purely designed to put your skills to the test. You must complete all runs (total of 5 levels per run for a total of 50 levels) without failing. Not once. If you do, you have to start from scratch again. And if you think you’ve already memorised each move you’re in for a shock, as the music and colour scheme changes for hardcore mode. So key are the visual and audio cues you’ve learned, you’ll swear these are brand new levels.
The dual-colour scheme is more than just for show. Colour schemes change up, forcing you to adjust your eyes and get your bearings half way through each world. World 1 primarily has a red and black colour scheme, placing you on a black screen with red traps, but suddenly switches to make you play on a red background with black traps, leaving you somewhat confused and bewildered.
For those ‘replay-ability’ fans, there is a ton of content for you to tackle, with each run requiring three objectives: Completing the run, Completing the run within a time limit and finding the hidden collectible. The stattos will enjoy plenty of statistics, while it’s nice to see Achievement rewards, which appear to be a rarity these days. Finally, there are a few surprises hidden that will please modern and retro fans alike.
All in all, this title is an extremely fun ‘pick-up-and-play’ game. It requires a tremendous amount of patience, but once mastered HoPiKo will genuinely leave you grinning like a Cheshire cat after successfully completing a run that you’ve spent
hours days to learn. For a two-man development company, Laser Dog Games have put in a huge amount of content that some bigger-budget games fail to include.
HoPiKo will be available for digital download from 19 October, priced at £5.59. There is a trial available and you can pre-download both trial and game from the Store.
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About: Stephen Loftus
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