Hopiko are friendly folk, they’re the little dudes sat inside your games console making sure everything is running properly, but when the evil Nanobyte virus spread through the world, all but one Hopiko where captured and enslaved.
Gaming is finished, the Nanobyte virus has taken over and what chance does one last Hopiko in an old N.E.S cartridge have of saving video gaming. Obvioulsy it’s not going to be an easy task, and Hopiko certainly doesn’t claim that you’re enlisting on a walk in the park.
Hopiko is described by the 3 man development team Laser Dog as an immensely difficult speed-run platformer set in zero gravity where you will die a lot.
Thankfully there’s an easy way of defeating the virus, and that’s by punching it in the face with your power gloves, 5 hits and he’ll release another Hopiko and sure enough after a few hundred hits you might be somewhere near defeating him.
Each hit is split into a speed-run, there’s no timer ticking away, but many platforms will dissapear or colide with an enemy within a second of you touching them so soon enough you’re forced to jump from one to the next without a second to think about it, this makes for some pretty hectic levels and while you’ll always get past within a few attempts, only a Hopiko will save your progress, so fail and you start again from the beginning of the set of 5 levels.
Completing a level is fairly straight forward on paper, you can push the right analogue stick in the direction you want to jump, then release to propell yourself forward, for a quicker power jump you can flick the shoulder button to jump at speed but this can only be performed in a straight line ahead of you.
Platforms move along a set route and have enemy/obstacles meaning your jumps need to be accurate, then there’s tunnels and windows to propell through meaning you need to be quick too, after a few dozen levels you’ll soon come across platforms that spin away as you land on them, or carry an enemy meaning you have to jump off again almost instantly.
Mixing up your jumps betweem accuracy and speed will get you through the level, eventually but every jump, enemy or obstacle will do it’s best to kill you a few dozen times first. It’s far from infuriating, but there’s enough tension to make obscenities flow from your mouth like you’ll flow through the restart screen time and time again, thankfully this is as easy as the idea of playing a game using 1 analogue stick and a single button as tapping A to restart throws you back into the action before you can declare yet another faliure.
Hopiko might not look incredibly appealing, the old 8-bit graphics aren’t the best showcase of the latest hardware, but while simple, it’s effective, and moves along at a blistering pace, only halted by your own reactions and those innevitable deaths.
The music plays a major part. Old fashioned music, said to be composed and produced on an old original Gameboy, it’s a complex soundtrack that’s addictive and mesmerising. The beat helps to time your jumps while the ongoing tunes will leave you as rustrated that you’re dancing and jiggling along to the music just as much as you’re dying and with the only excuse for death being your own concentration and timing there’s more than enough to test your temper. ust like the short, approachable and addictive levels, the soundtrack really gets into your head, it’s well made, perfectly fitting and a perfect accompaniment to the gameplay.
With literally hundreds of levels to work through, Hopiko is no short game. It’s cetainly best played in short sharp burst for half an hour or so at time, and while you’re unlikely to complete it in a few hours, it’s a great game to return to time and time again to test your resolve, There’s an innevitable repetitive feel that’s as certain as your next death, but there’s only so much gameplay you can fit into mediocre graphics and single button controls.