When it comes to speed platforming, Super Meat Boy is king. The game basically wrote all the rules that future indie speed platformers would try to follow. I've seen a couple games match its greatness, such as Shu and Slime-San. After spending some time with it, I'm more than confident enough to say that HoPiKo joins these greats.
HoPiKo opens up with some kids playing a video game on their game console that is totally not a PlayStation. We learn that game consoles keep running thanks to tiny people known as HoPiKo. Unfortunately, a virus strikes and abducts the HoPiKo, leaving the game console useless and the children sad. Thankfully, they missed you. Now you have to go and save your friends from the virus. That's all basically dumped on you in the introduction, and its really all the story the game needs.
When it comes to the actual platforming, HoPiKo is rather unique. You can't move around freely or run on platforms. Instead, you only have a single ability: jumping. You do so by flicking the right stick in the direction you want to jump in. Simple, right? Indeed, this is the only control I came across in my time with the game. However, HoPiKo always managed to find creative ways to use this.
Right from the first levels, I was introduced to ways the game would mess with this mechanic. Cannons would launch my character out at high speeds, while special platforms would slowly drift after I landed on them. I always had to be ready for some new situation and react at hyper speeds. Levels are broken into five sections, and dying in any section sets you back to the beginning of the level. Thankfully, HoPiKo avoids frustration by having levels that rarely last longer than ten seconds and almost instantaneous loading.
You'll have to avoid enemies while committing to all this jumping around. Some viruses stay in one spot and simply serve as walls, while others will move in patterns and require you to time your jumps. I even ran into some viruses that shot lasers in straight lines, and I needed to creatively use platforms to block their lasers. All of this needed to happen in the blink of an eye as well. Before long I was learning all the right ways to flick the right stick to bounce through levels and only die sometimes.
Thankfully, everything in HoPiKo stands out due to the game's simple yet catchy art design. With just a glance I could identify what platforms would rotate 180 degrees when I land on it, or which enemies were going to move back and forth to try and stop me. Some occasional visual filters, like the mandatory indie platformer silhouette level, keep things fresh without harming the design. There's also a kickass soundtrack containing quite a lot of techno. As you play you'll unlock more songs, and can switch between them at any point. HoPiKo being a visual treat on top of a gameplay one is just making the whole package sweeter.
Once you get this down then there's not much more to HoPiKo. It's very focused on one thing, and that thing is going fast. There are fifty levels that can take you a couple of hours to get through, plus some bonus modes like a speed run or one life mode. However, HoPiKo absolutely nails this one thing. It speeds past Sonic, leaves Meat Boy in the dust, and... well I guess Mario was never really that fast, but you get the idea. This is a platformer that manages to combine speed and precision into one hell of a sweet treat.
TechRaptor played HoPiKo on PlayStation 4 using a copy purchased by the player. The game is also available on PC, Xbox One, iOS, and Android devices.