I’m honestly not sure what HoPiKo means or how the developers came up with the title. Developed by Laser Dog Games, it was first released on the mobile platform last year and was very well received. I did not play the game on mobile but I feel that it translated well over to the Xbox One.
HoPiKo is one of those games best played in short bursts. It will test you reflexes and patience more than anything. Although it is incredibly addicting I certainly recommend taking a break from time to time. This will allow your nerves to relax, and I found if I got frustrated I started doing worse and worse. After a break, I would come back refreshed.
Somewhat of a marriage between high-speed platformers and puzzle games, HoPiKo will take you through roughly 250 very well-crafted levels. The gist of the story is an evil virus has taken over every video game console known to man. HoPiKos are these little beings inside each console that ensure it runs so you can play your games. Once the virus takes over and enslaves all HoPiKos it is up to you, the last remaining, to destroy the virus and free your friends.
There are 5 worlds in the game and each world is made up of 10 stages. These stages are then comprised of 5 levels and you must complete all 5 levels without dying to complete each stage. If you make it to level 5 of a particular stage and lose, it is back to level 1 for you. This certainly adds to the difficulty of an already difficult game. You will be replaying some levels over and over again because you cannot make it past a later level. This is not a bad thing per se but it can certainly test your patience.
Each level is chock full of platforms, cannons, lasers, spike ball-looking things, and other hazards. You must jump from platform to platform while avoiding all obstacles to reach the infected console at the end of each level and set it free. The controls are incredibly simple…you flick the right stick in the direction you want to send your little HoPiKo flying, and press the right trigger to catapult him at a higher speed but only in the direction he is facing. There are also cannons you can land in and you must press the right trigger to launch yourself in the direction it is facing. Some stages are filled with cannons and literally feel like the barrel sections of Donkey Kong Country on steroids. Speed is of the essence and you do not have much time to plan your next move as every platform/cannon explodes if you are on it for too long. This is truly what creates an adrenaline fueled experience as you do not have time to analyze and plan your moves. Some platforms rotate, spin, rocket away with you on them, or explode faster than others, so you must always be on your toes. Each jump is reflex-driven while your brain is trying to comprehend what is going on. It is incredibly satisfying to fly through a level, narrowly missing the obstacles, and reaching the end. At that point you breathe and realize you were holding your breath the whole time. It’s exhilarating.
The graphics do the job, however the backgrounds and colors are a little bland. The backgrounds tend to be a solid color with the platforms and hazards taking front and center. I cannot criticize the backgrounds too much, however, because you will literally spend no more than 5 seconds on each level. At times the bland colors can be a little rough on the eyes, but never too bad. The effects of various explosions and whatnot are solid and they sound good. The music is on a whole other level. The soundtrack is comprised of a slew of electronic chiptune tracks that are honestly amazing. I wouldn’t be lying if I said it was the best chiptune soundtrack in a game I have ever heard. If you are not tapping a toe or two, you have issues. Each track is high energy and complements the fast paced nature of the game incredibly well.
Each stage has a difficult to reach collectible that will unlock new tracks when you collect enough. These are some of the most rewarding collectibles in any game I’ve played because the music is so good you want to go out of your way to unlock and hear new tracks. As you complete the stages in a world, you unlock a Bonus Mode, Speed Run, and Hardcore Mode. The Bonus Mode is a special stage in each world where you fly around in a little rocket. They are incredibly difficult. Speed Run has you run through the whole world as fast as you can and Hardcore Mode has you attempt to beat all 50 levels in that world without dying. In other words, that mode is pure evil.
The game will most likely take you 4-5 hours to get through but there is also some replayability with the collectibles and unlockable modes. At launch, it will cost $6.99 which is an absolute steal. There were no frame rate issues and the controls are very responsive. HoPiKo is a very fun, challenging, unique, and rewarding game that deserves much praise. I highly recommend you pick it up. It will absolutely not let you down.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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