Developed by Game Freak – the Pokémon masters – HarmoKnight is a drastic change for the team. Getting away from the RPG genre, HarmoKnight is instead a rhythm-based platformer with a focus on achieving a high-score and, of course, keeping the beat steady.
In HarmoKnight, you play as Tempo whom is training with his rabbit companion, Tappy, when suddenly a meteorite crashes into Melodia. This meteorite brings a Noizoid invasion, which includes main villain, Gargan. Gargan kidnaps the princess Aralia and, of course, it’s up to Tempo to save her and restore peace to Melodia. All of this is told throughout the game using mostly text conversations between the characters, and the occasional hand drawn cut-scene. In my opinion, this works just fine for HarmoKnight.
HarmoKnight is broken up into eight worlds, one of which is hidden, and over 50 levels of fast-paced, rhythmic action. It’s a simple game to pick up and play, but much harder to master. When you enter a level, Tempo begins running on his own, leaving you the responsibility of jumping with B, and striking enemies with A. Precision is a must if you want to get the most out of HarmoKnight, especially when the timing constraints are quite strict. Occasionally, Tempo will tag out with other characters that bring new moves to the table, offering a nice touch of variety.
Surviving a level is enough to move onto the next, but you should be concerned with collecting notes to increase your chances of getting a silver or gold ranking. Only when you get a silver or gold ranking will you be rewarded with a Royal Note. Royal Notes can be found in every level and are used to unlock new portions of the world map, and are necessary to clear most worlds. To ensure you get a Royal Note, you must perform well by collecting as many notes as possible, which is done by colliding with them, or striking enemies and percussion plants.
HarmoKnight is a simple, yet fun and addictive game, especially when you find a song you really like. It’s extremely satisfying to keep the beat going by perfecting your striking and jumping timing; however, certain obstacles will take some practice, most noticeably the odd timing when bouncing on drums. Boss levels seem to be a littler harder than the rest of the game, which makes it even more satisfying to clear a level.
It should take most people around 4.5 hours to see the first seven worlds of HarmoKnight. The last world must be unlocked by finding five Tori birds, each of which are hidden in five select levels throughout the game. Increasing its replay value, HarmoKnight’s addictiveness can easily lure you back to try to top your previous score of any level, and also to try the faster version of each level. Game Freak has also thrown in some levels based on famous Pokémon songs, which are also a lot of fun to play. However, I can’t help but feel that Game Freak and Nintendo missed an opportunity to offer famous Nintendo themes as DLC, because I’d most likely buy them all.
Speaking of the soundtrack, HarmoKnight delivers a varied sound, most of which is great. Few songs are a little less exciting, but most are enjoyable. Graphically, HarmoKnight is a slam dunk. It features extremely colorful stages and well-designed art, both of which look great in stereoscopic 3D. Though, while the 3D looks pretty and pops quite nice, I did find it distracting at times, ultimately throwing off my already awful timing.
HarmoKnight is a pricey Nintendo eShop game at $14.99, but it offers great replay value and fun gameplay that is well-executed. It’s easy to get lost in HarmoKnight’s gameplay, and viewing it in stereoscopic 3D is an absolute blast, but beware, its gorgeous, eye popping design may throw off your timing. Overall, a fun experience, plus it’s nice to see Game Freak work on something other than Pokémon.
8.5/10 – Great