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HarmoKnight Review: Pure Rhythm Goodness
While they’re slightly more well known for their work on the Pokemon series, developers at Game Freak have recently released a new game for the 3DS called HarmoKnight. Does HarmoKnight manage to strike a chord, or does it fall flat like a bad note?
With a distinct flavor that is all Nintendo, HarmoKnight is a cute and creative rhythm game with all the fixin’s we’ve come to expect from the genre.
In HarmoKnight, you play as Tempo, a young boy who’s had the great task of ridding the world of the dangerous noizoids who have invaded Melodia. With a handful of friends and the mystical note staff weapon of the legendary HarmoKnights, you’ll travel through the different realms of Melodia, all while clearing levels and battling bosses to the beat.
Borrowing elements from both platformers and other rhythm-based games, HarmoKnight is essentially an on-rails runner that requires you to perform certain actions in time to the game’s music. Hitting enemies, jumping on objects, and even dodging attacks all yield precious notes when timed right ,which allows Tempo to gain access to new stages within the world.
While a majority of the levels follow this format, there are also levels that require you to perform actions in a specified sequence, such as hitting enemies, jumping over obstacles, or even pulling off dance moves. The mixup is nice and offers some variance in gameplay that feels refreshing after the platforming-heavy norm of the rest of the game.
For the most part, the game runs smoothly and has a strong addictive quality that keeps you coming back time and time again to try and best your last score.
The rhythm-based actions are extremely satisfying; however, it can be difficult to establish the game’s beat, thus making it hard to gauge exactly when to pull off a certain move. Couple that with controls that aren’t always the most responsive, and there are plenty of moments when you’ll be feeling frustrated by no fault of your own.
But the moments when the game works well turn out to be pure magic. The music is fun and goes well with the world’s design, new mechanics and elements are introduced at a steady rate, and the game is charming in a way that feels both whimsical and soothing.
Outside of the gameplay, one of HarmoKnight’s biggest strengths is its aesthetic. The worlds take place mostly in a 2D format, save for the occasional over-the-shoulder angle in various levels, in a world that is bright, colorful, and airy. It’s charming and endearing, and the 3D functionality of the system does a great job of bringing it to life in a unique way. Each of the zones in the world of Melodia have their own unique look and feel, complete with individual color palettes and music types.
Writing and dialogue in the game itself is often charming, taking on a sort of tongue-in-cheek quality that is both unique and self-aware. Each of the game’s characters have their own distinct personalities, and will at times poke fun at themselves and the cliches of fantasy itself. It works, and it works well, adding more to the game’s already mystical personality.
Overall, HarmoKnight is a fun and entertaining ride. Minor control issues will make certain levels frustrating, but the game’s overall design and personality lends it a great amount of replayability that will keep rhythm game fans coming back for more time and time again.
(Note: HarmoKnight was reviewed after five hours of gameplay on the Nintendo 3DS. This copy was purchased by the reviewer.)