HarmoKnight for Nintendo 3DS
It must be strange being one of those developers who only make one series. Game Freak are so synonymous with Pokémon, that seeing that logo followed by something else is an odd sensation. HarmoKnight confirms that Game Freak isn’t a one trick pony, and maybe Nintendo should let them experiment outside the box a little bit more.
HarmoKnight takes the same minimal approach to plot as the Pokémon games, and follows Tempo, a young boy from the land of Melodia. A meteor crash brings Gargan and a Noizoids, evil aliens who disrupt Melodia and kidnap the Princess Ariana. It’s up to Tempo, alongside a group of allies, to use the power of music to become a ‘Harmony Knight’ and save Ariana and Melodia.
So, suffice it to say that you’ll not be playing HarmoKnight for the plot. There’s a weird amount of effort made to give it one, but that is effort which certainly feels wasted.
So, HarmoKnight is a rhythm-action game, similar in some ways to the Bit. Trip Runner games. Tempo continually runs, and the player has him jump and swing his weapon in time with the music to avoid obstacles and defeat enemies. There’s not really much more to it than that, although there are a handful of sections where Tempo’s allies take over with slightly different mechanics. What sets HarmoKnight apart from other games in the genre is its sense of scale and spectacle. Games like this generally go for a scaled back, stylish and minimalist look, but HarmoKnight goes the other way, with some really epic set pieces, particularly during the enjoyable, memory based boss fights. HarmoKnight isn’t a long game by any means, but there’s a lot of replay value. A handful of bonus levels based on Pokémon with familiar tunes from that series don’t hurt either!
HarmoKnight’s biggest weakness is one which, well, really shouldn’t be in any rhythm game. The music just isn’t that good, which is doubly strange considering the consistently excellent soundtracks in the Pokémon series. The game is still fun, exciting and epic, but HarmoKnight fails in this fundamental way which undermines the entire experience. Still, HarmoKnight nonetheless manages to charm in other ways.
The 3DS eShop now holds a surprisingly excellent range of titles, and HarmoKnight is another feather in this increasingly feather filled cap. It’s a fun, light release, a good way to pass a couple of hours when it pops up in the next digital sale.