Rhythm games have been around for quite awhile. With Final Fantasy Theatrhythm and Rhythm Thief released in 2012, what could possibly make this entry by the Pokémon creators, Game Freak, so special? With this digital download costing on the eShop hitting $14.99, potential players may be skeptical of buying a title other than the familiar Pokémon franchise.
The game uses the classic platformer format wherein Tempo, the hero wielding the staff, runs toward the goal while collecting notes, bashing enemies and background percussion instruments while dodging pitfalls and obstacles. Of course, a few other playable characters make appearances from time to time for a change of pace through some courses.
While jumping and whacking things with the staff, the paths will begin to split, usually by jumping to another path. These paths will either have more obstacles, notes or even the cloud platforms that lead to the pink birds hidden in five levels. Other than the split paths, jumps also have a sound, which comes in handy for timed jumps to the rhythm, especially when dodging obstacles where the button press needs to be precise.
The challenge is a tad on the difficult side, which will result in at least one replay to reach the “Great” status on every level but, in turn, will result in more replay value. A tiny mistake of missing a jump could result in an instant game over by hitting a pitfall. Besides keeping the rhythm by hitting enemies, jumping and dodging all obstacles, boss fights consist of button presses similar to the classic game of Simon.
In the boss fights, the boss will telepath the button presses required to dodge and retaliate the enemy attacks. These moves include directional pad motions as well as the standard jump and smack. In the earlier levels, the four move combination that needs to be pressed to the rhythm may not seem too difficult, but later boss fights can have even eight button presses for the combo. Receiving a perfect score on the boss fights is also the only way to receive a “Great” for the stage, which is another excellent use for replaying a level.
With all the replaying of levels that will likely be necessary to receive a “Great” for every stage, the song selection menu will have an option to play a fast version of the stage. Receiving a “Great” for the fast version will result in unlocking artwork when sorting through the menu. Also, as per the demo, familiar songs from the Pokémon franchise will become unlocked upon completing each world. For a truly difficult challenge, though, make sure to play through the stages available after collecting all five birds.
Overall, the game has a rich soundtrack with various styles and comes with a music player, though the only way to truly hear the music as full as possible is to play the game. The use of 3D is spectacular, giving full depth to the environment and making visual cues slightly easier to read, especially in later stages when the camera is not necessarily a direct side view.
HarmoKnight was released in North America on the eShop for digital distribution March 28, 2013.
The official website for HarmoKnight is http://harmoknight.nintendo.com/.
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