Harmoknight, from the developers that brought us the incredibly popular Pokemon franchise, follows the story of ‘Tempo’, an unlikely boy hero who must save the land of Melodia. While practicing with his rabbit friend, Tappy, Melodia is invaded by extraterrestrial beings called Noizoids (see a trend yet with the naming in the game?) bent on the destruction of the world. While not totally prepared, Tempo is tasked with taking a legendary staff to princess Aralia in Symphony City in the hopes of saving Melodia.
Game Freak has developed a very unique take on the platformer genre. The world map for Harmoknight is very similar to what you might see in a Mario game but within each level is a very different experience. As a rhythm platformer, Harmoknight requires timing and patience to master. While the first few levels can be mastered in your first play through, the later levels can be hard to master in your fifth or sixth play through. I wouldn’t say the game is very difficult to advance but it may be hard for players to earn ‘Great’ on every level in the game, especially when you unlock the Speed Mode for each level. This level of difficulty, to me, adds a lot of replayability to Harmoknight and keeps me coming back to master each and every level. The difficulty ramps up nicely and the level design is pretty forgiving, but some of the later levels require more precise actions as well as faster reflexes. Sometimes your character jumps off a ledge and there may be an enemy waiting right as you land. As long as you’re keeping with the rhythm you’ll be fine. If you don’t, you can lose a lot of hearts very fast.
The game features basic controls but there is a lot of variety to the gameplay. With Tempo, players can either jump or swing the note staff. Once you encounter Lyra, she assists in levels with her crossbow. The camera in the game shifts from side-scrolling to an over-the-shoulder viewpoint. This allows you to see a crosshair in the top right which you can use to time your shots. Tyko and Cymbi, some other companions along your adventure, help in levels where enemies are attacking up high and down low. The shear number of characters adds to the variety in the levels but all levels are unique as well. Boss levels have a completely different feel to them. They are more cinematic and feature fully 3D sequences rather than the camera following only a side viewpoint. Mine-cart levels are a lot of fun. There are also the Octarina challenges that offer another change of pace in gameplay. In all, there are over 50 levels spanning 8 separate worlds in the game.
The presentation in Harmoknight is phenomenal. From the comic style cutscenes, the 3D depth in the levels, the charm of the world map, and the fully 3D boss fights; Harmoknight utilizes each style tremendously. The music in the game definitely shines but there are subtle visual touches that make the difference. Your heart gauge, for instance, pulses with the beat of the music so you know the timing. Your note staff also pulsates with the beat. These subtle accents may go unnoticed but they were a crucial addition for me as I played through. The overworld also has several fun accents such as clouds shaped as musical instruments and islands shaped like notes.
The 3DS eShop is already known for several great games and Harmoknight is another one to add to that list. With the amount of stages, variety of gameplay, fun boss fights, and the unlockable Speed Mode, Harmoknight will keep players of any skill both entertained and challenged.