Another downloadable game. I've definitely been playing way too many downloadable games, but they're just too darn easy to pick up. This one was HarmoKnight for 3DS. It's a rhythm game, probably most known for being by Game Freak, the developer of the ginormous Pokemon franchise.
The bulk of the game is very similar to Bit.Trip Runner, a game I played about a year ago, but really didn't enjoy much. I found Bit.Trip Runner to require copious amounts of pointless memorization, a problem which HarmoKnight avoids for the most part by being less difficult and more casual. After beating a stage with the highest rank, the game lets you challenge a faster version of it. In general this seems fair since you've already mastered the stage, and also the placement of enemies and hazards seems less obnoxious in general than in Bit.Trip Runner.
The game has a cute 'n colorful cartoon-y style, and the music is enjoyable overall although there are only a few standout tracks. The game shifts from the "rhythm runner" gameplay found in most of its stages to the usual (and really overdone) "Simon Says" type of gameplay for boss fights, made more tedious by extended animations between rounds (the dancing octopus stages have the same mechanics but are more entertaining, and succeed better because they're quite short). Aside from that annoyance, the game does reasonably well at mixing things up with slightly different twists on the regular stages throughout, such as stages where the tempo shifts erratically, or the camera angles change in surprising ways.
As mentioned the game is fairly easy, and it's also fairly short at four hours or so (which I'm not complaining about, since the game mechanics don't wear out their welcome). Beating the game and finding some hidden tokens unlocks a "sky world" that features a set of levels that are much more difficult, but by that time I'd had enough. Individual stages featuring Pokemon music unlock at regular intervals, which was a nice bonus. Enemy design is pretty generic, and although there are two secondary characters who jump in at different points, the transitions to using them are awkward, and they're quite underused in general. Overall, though, this was a pretty solid and polished, if not very surprising, title. It's nice to see new IP, though.
Harmonize with these HarmoKnight links:
- The official site includes some downloadable wallpapers
- Iwata Asks interview. (Worth a read, as usual. I hadn't realized the main character's stick pulses to the beat. And I'd also forgotten about the charge attack.)
- Review at NintendoLife
- Entry at Metacritic
- Entry on Wikipedia