We had a lot of fun with Hopiko when it launched on mobile last year, but we never got around to reviewing it (largely because we came to the party late). Now that this fiendish little platformer has made the transition to console it's time to remedy that.
Hopiko is fast as hell and razor sharp. The player controls a hoppy little bunny who must leap between platforms at lightning fast speeds, zigzagging across levels with unerring accuracy, and doing so with very little margin for error. It's super quick and ideally suited to mobile, not least because of well-implemented touch controls, but does it work when played on a controller? Well, after having played it on Xbox One, we have to say that it does. It's not quite as snappy, but the leap from touch screen to analog stick has been done well enough for us not to grumble.
We're going to add the caveat that we haven't completed the console version of the game, but rather we took it out for a spin to see how it stacked up against its mobile counterpart, and whether the lightning fast gameplay and the controls needed to execute these quick-fire passages of play have been mapped to the controller satisfactorily. We won't lie, it still works best on mobile thanks to the speed at which one can swipe a digit across the screen, but importantly for the viability of the console version, the simplicity and accessibility of the controls survive intact.
It works because it's minimalistic. You aim and can jump with the right stick, and you jump straight forwards using L1 or X. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. These spartan controls ensure that the transition from touchscreen to (in this case an Xbox One) controller is fairly seamless. They only use a couple of inputs, but precisely because of this streamlined setup it's easy to pick up.
Levels are grouped together in batches of five, and if you lose one, even the last one, you have to start from scratch. That might sound harsh, and sometimes it can be, but the harshness is alleviated somewhat by the fact that these levels are teeny tiny and can be completed in seconds. Failure on a tricky level (and some of them are hard as nails) means a reset, but progress is quick enough for it not to hurt too much. Each one sees you leaping between stationary and moving platforms, avoiding obstacles, and timing your jumps to perfection as you aim to send your bunny through a target at the end of each 8-bit assault course.
Later levels are Super Meat Boy hard, and they demand skill and patience in equal measure, but to call this a platformer in the traditional sense would be a little misleading. It comes in super quick bursts, drawing on age old arcade sensibilities that keep you coming back for just one more go, and there's a challenging puzzler-like quality that you see on the hardest levels of games like Tetris where you've almost got no time to think and your relying on instinct to get you through. Tbe devs over at Laserdog call it a platformer-like, and we can see what they're getting at with their home-cooked label.
We're not going to pretend to have played through the hundreds of levels that devs boast are included, but we have played a lot. One of Hopiko's strengths comes from the way new challenges are layered in as the game progresses. From platforms that explode once you stand on them for too long, through to explosives that home in on your position if you don't move around them fast enough, Laserdog will regularly through new mechanics into the mix to test your mettle.
Even though the levels in Hopiko are potentially extremely short, all but the best players will spend a fair bit of time conquering them, such is the challenge that they offer. To keep you company as you play there's a pulsating chiptune soundtrack (that was composed entirely on a Gameboy, apparently), and the toe-tapping beat is reinforced by old-school visuals that scream homage (there's also numerous references to old-gen consoles in there with the studio clearly signposting their influences). It all adds up to equal a fast-paced and addictive game that works on console almost as well as it does on mobile, and given the quality of the original that's praise indeed.