Hoplegs is a platformer developed by WhyKev, with a simple – at first – premise. The aim of Hoplegs is to move a box that has four retractable legs from the beginning to the end of a course. It sounds simple enough. However, how these legs get used makes for a unique, challenging and incredibly frustrating campaign.
In Hoplegs, you use the A, B, X and Y buttons to control each individual leg. By pressing these, the connected leg shoots out, propelling you into the opposite direction of the leg in question. You can also rotate your box when in midair, effectively adding a small curvature on your ascent. If your leg is against a surface, you’ll launch a greater distance, using that surface to bounce off.
The controls are simply mapped but incredibly hard to master. You’ll need to have extremely good timing when tumbling along the course to use the correct leg to keep that momentum. Also, to make sure you are kicking out in the right direction. I can’t tell you the number of times I got ahead of myself and ended up launching myself backwards instead of forwards. I found the controls to be highly frustrating with what felt like a huge learning curve to master, but that was really my own fault. I imagine those with much better hand-eye coordination would excel in this after a few levels of practice.
Each course in the story mode has a ‘par time’, which is the desired time you should aim to finish the course. There is no real penalty or award for taking longer than this time; you will simply receive a course pass and progress to the next. In story mode, there are 27 courses, each with varying difficulty and challenges, slowly introducing tips and tricks for you. Things such as using walls in midair to your advantage or identifying buttons that can aid progression are key to help reduce the time taken to complete the levels.
Aside from the story mode, Hoplegs also offers co-op, in which you can play through said mode with a friend. Co-op can be in equal measure easier and harder, as I am sure you can imagine! You can also play versus with friends and play games such as ‘Last Box Standing’ and King of the Hill. In these games, you use your legs to fight and knock your opponent instead of getting to a course’s end. There is also another mode called ‘Peak’, (single-player), where you navigate through a much tougher and longer course with an ever-present time limit. These other game modes offer up some good variety to an otherwise simple and linear game. With the hard-to-learn controls, no matter what you’re playing, you’re subject to some couch co-op chaos and, unfortunately, plenty of frustration.
Hoplegs is a very bright and colourful game. The visuals are super clear, simple and the colours used are bold and playful. The music compliments this also, giving off a childlike, play-time demeanour. The music can become repetitive, but that is unsurprising when you are three minutes over par trying to launch over that one final ledge.
I appreciate the unique control scheme, which made Hoplegs stand out in its promotional videos and material. But overall, it was a frustrating experience, even though I progressed quicker when the controls started feeling more natural and gained more momentum. The repetitive level design, visuals and music become tedious, leaving Hoplegs (sigh) no real leg to stand on.