Published on December 5th, 2017 | by Craig Forshey1
The developer behind the deceptively simple old school shooter Dodge Blast has returned with a similarly refined new take on sidescrolling platformers of yore by the name of Hoppenhelm. This satisfyingly straightforward 3-button action game from indie dev Tobias Örnberg takes the button mashing essence of a retro adventure game and smashes it down with a metaphorical hydraulic press until it can be crammed within the modest constraints of a one handed touchscreen title without sacrificing any replayability in the process. In Hoppenhelm players assume the role of titular protagonist Sir Hoppenhelm as they hop, slash, and bash their way out of a gloomy dungeon while being attacked by a host of pixel monsters and attempting to outrun a rising tide of deadly lava. They will need to think fast as each new button press will take them out of one deadly situation and into the next with only a split second separating them from certain doom.
Players traverse the dungeon by hopping one block at a time along an obstacle course of hostile creatures, crumbling architecture, and the odd fireball from time to time. Timing is everything as the landscape is riddled with traps like spike blocks and false floors which must be hopped across at just the right moment so as to avoid taking damage. Carefully judging the path ahead by waiting for an opening and springing into action at that instant is key to survival, however taking too long in deciding when to proceed will allow the lava to claim its next victim.
In the midst of all this chaos players will need to defeat a variety of different enemies by swinging their weapon before any can get close enough which adds in another dimension to the on-the-fly thinking required of any succesfull adventurers. Combat starts out simple with stationary enemies at first but soon players will be facing off against flying skulls that zoom in at the most inopportune times. Players must also avoid long range fireballs being thrown from off screen by either blocking them with their shield or jumping out of the way.
As they hop along towards their destiny players can pick up floating coins that can be used to unlock better weapons and additional characters. The drop rate for these coins is very generous and it doesn’t take long at all to unlock even the the highest tier items. Nice retro graphics and an endearing chiptune soundtrack round out the presentation to evoke an agreeable atmosphere reminiscent of the better aspects of the recent retro revival.
Summary: A simple but polished ode to retro platformers with engrossing pick up and play mechanics and an engaging presentation.