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Review: HoPiKo – fast and frenetic platforming action

A highly stylized retro platformer with a heart of pure speed. Can you keep up?

Price: $3.99 / £2.99
Version: 1.0.1
Size: 70.3 MB
Developer: Laser Dog

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HoPiKo is a love letter to tough-as-nails retro platformers and takes a lot of inspiration from speed runners, gamers who try to finish a game in the quickest time possible. The developers describe it as “fast and brutal twitch-based gameplay,” and we think that’s a pretty accurate description.

The plot, insofar as there is one, is that an evil computer virus has all but killed classic gaming by enslaving your tiny computer data friends. Luckily you can save them – and by extension, all of gaming – by pulling off some awesome high-speed platforming maneuvers!

Jump between floating platforms to reach the end of each level, dodging deadly computer bugs and lethal laser traps along the way. It gets plenty more complex in the later stages, with new types of platforms and obstacles to contend with, but the premise is simple throughout.


Better time those jumps perfectly or the ‘nano-virus’ will destroy you.

The controls are perfectly refined for mobile gaming – tap to jump straight ahead, or swipe to alter your trajectory and jump at an angle. The taps are quicker but the swipes more precise, and each has to be used optimally to pass even the easy levels (of which there are relatively few). Landing a perfect jump is really satisfying, and once you get the hang of things it’s a blast to swipe around the screen at breakneck speed.

HoPiKo is all about timing and quick wits. Some of the levels feel like puzzles – you have to figure out the optimal movement sequence to avoids all the traps – but the fast-paced platforming means you don’t have much time to decide what to do. Hang about for much more than a second on a platform and it crumbles beneath you. This is a game where pausing for a breather is lethal.


Even the platforms look like tiny retro games consoles.

Each level is just seconds long, and they’re packaged in ‘runs’ of five. You have to complete all five in a row to finish the run and move on. It’s a good thing the levels are super short, because you’ll be retrying them a lot. Even so, it can be a little frustrating having to replay the first four parts of a run every time you die on the fifth. Luckily the cute micro-cutscenes between each level are quickly skippable with a tap, speeding up the retry process.

Every mini-level has a target time to beat, and hitting all five time targets in a run scores you a bonus tick. It’s a nice extra challenge that encourages you to nail that perfect run. Completionists will also want to look out for the gameboy collectibles hidden in each run which challenge you to take a tougher route to the goal.


There are five stages, each comprising ten runs of five levels each. Plus the unlockable bonus runs. You do the math..

Game Center is integrated really well into every facet of HoPiKo. From the main menu you can easily see your best time on each run, your global rank and the number of times you died attempting it. Speed running is all about being the best at something, and the constant reminder that there are hundreds of people out there with better times than you is a good motivator to keep shaving those split seconds off your top time. Speaking of top times, there’s a great replay feature that lets you watch back all your best runs to see where you might improve.

Graphically, HoPiKo is a treat. It channels the spirit of blocky 80s gaming into a crisp, modern package that just oozes charm. The music is pretty cool too: composed entirely on an original Nintendo Gameboy, the high-intensity soundtrack comprises a full album of 8-bit chiptune glory. Talk about dedication to a theme.


Once you perfect a level, blitzing through in a manner of seconds is really satisfying.

It’s not easy, and it can be highly frustrating – but all the best games of this kind are. The value you’ll get from HoPiKo depends on how much you like a good old-fashioned platforming challenge, but for those amongst you with quick wits and quicker reflexes, this game is a must.