Reviewed on Xbox One; also available on Playstation 4 and PC.
Is 8-bit the new black? Well, I believe 8-bit keeps being a trendy thing. It so easy for a pixelated screen and some noisy beats to summon such a retro and nostalgic feel, taking you back to what I usually call the “first step” years of video game history.
Sometimes I wonder how many 8-bit indie games get released every month in this AAA era we live in, where graphics seem to be the number one focus for consumers and journalists alike. But as we all know, gameplay is and will always be king, so there’s no excuse for not traveling back in time and paying the 80s a visit.
A nanobyte virus has infected consoles, putting gaming days to an end. It’s up to you to destroy the virus and restore gaming devices. That’s basically the background story introduction, presented in a cinematic that will quickly vanish so you can focus on gameplay right away.
HoPiKo is one of those speed-run platform games that rage quitters hate so much. It requires a good amount of skill and patience, so prepare yourself. Each world features around ten stages divided into five runs that must be completed in an extremely short amount of time. This title uses the punishing “fail and repeat from the start” formula. Yes, in order to beat any level you’ll have to consecutively succeed on each of the five runs a level has, one by one otherwise you’ll have to restart the entire level again. That’s kind of evil and insane, but I love it.
Several moving obstacles will try to ruin your run. As you would expect, it can only get harder and harder. At a certain point, hell will break loose. Some platforms will even disappear within seconds, forcing the player to rush movement and make mistakes. You know what…
It’s the difficulty level that makes these games so popular. There’s a new wave of hardcore players out there demanding hard games and some developers have listened, unleashing what actually looks more like a nightmare than a game. As I said, there’s a huge fan base for this genre, but for “rookies” like me, this approach is the way to go here. I must say that even at frustrating times, I was still able to enjoy it in some way as it was simply an intense experience. The more I failed, the more I wanted to keep playing until I was able to succeed.
I know for a fact that Laser Dog Games want every player (myself included) to quit, I’m sure that would make their day, but I’m not gonna be the one to give them that satisfaction! I will do my best to prove I can eventually finish HoPiKo and be rewarded with a few shots of pride and ego.
Take into account that you will replay some levels tons of times in order to master them. Yes, that’s how it works and completing a level doesn’t mean you did a great job either. There are collectibles and time challenges you must take into account if you want the perfect 100% status.
Keep calm and HoPiKo.
The half-controller scheme keeps it simple and it is enough to give a full gameplay experience. You will only need to use your right stick to aim and jump and RB for an ultra-fast jump in a straight line.
The music and the game design are amazing. Rob Allison, the soundtrack composer, used an original Game Boy to produce and create the crazy HoPiKo tunes. This, and the colors often changing through levels like if it were a psychedelic dream, seem to be perfectly designed for a clear purpose: grabbing your attention and making everything even harder. Well played Laser Dog, well played.
I think I might be getting too old to play these kinds of games already. Overall, I really liked it, but I know I would have been a much more fan of it a couple of years ago. I remember being used to similar mechanics, especially in tapping games when playing on my mobile phone. If unlike me, you feel young enough to tackle such a skill test, HoPiKo is sure worth a try.
HoPiKo provides endless epic challenges that may feel overwhelming at times. It fully requires a flawless reaction capacity from the player, making the “trial and error tactic” your best ally in order to achieve perfect timing in every move. Despite its difficulty and some downsides like the lack of leaderboards, the cool aesthetics, catchy soundtrack and short load times makes it easy to pick and play at any given moment.