HarmoKnight ($14.99) is a good rhythm game with an unremarkable soundtrack. As far as downloadable 3DS titles go, this charming effort from Pokemon-developer Game Freak hits the right notes, so to speak, in terms of smartly implemented choreography. Even the art style is respectable, complete with adorable characters and Super Mario World level select screens.
It's just a shame that unlike previous music games, the score doesn't resonate. Clashing symbols and banging tambourines in-game should have complimented a variety of foot-tapping tracks, but the plethora of tunes (while entertaining in the moment) didn't stick in our heads; to Game Freak's credit, the music improves the further you progress.
Thankfully, the lack of catchy tracks doesn't necessarily ruin HarmoKnight, and as far as downloadable 3DS games go, we think Nintendo fans will find plenty to like. The game is an endless runner of sorts where players don't have full control of the characters as they run through different side-scrolling levels, but instead press buttons to jump over spikes, attack enemies and strike instruments to the beat, all in the hope of gathering as many musical notes as possible.
Over time, users add new faces to the party, and Game Freak does a fine job utilizing their unique abilities, transitioning between an arrow-firing heroine to a duo that attack enemies high and low. This extends to special missions that put gamers inside a rollercoaster of sorts, or atop a winged creature during a multi-layered boss fight against a mechanical bee.
Meanwhile, the rhythmic button tapping is among the best and most unforgiving that we've seen in this type of game. You really need to immerse yourself in the experience to keep up with it, and the slightest mistake (even by a millisecond) will result in loss of precious hearts or death.
In the end, though, the music needs to shine, and HarmoKnight fails to measure up to the best in the genre. We continued playing, not to see how the story unfolded, but in the hope the soundtrack would substantially improve. Unfortunately, we can't recall a single tune, and as a result, will vaguely remember this title once 2013 concludes.
HarmoKnight will be available on the 3DS eShop March 28 for $14.99.
Review code provided by Nintendo.
What's Hot:Precision controls, Super Mario World style level maps, bite-sized missions ideal for multiple replays, cute characters.
What's Not:Forgettable soundtrack.