Simple platform titles are undeniably addictive. However, the deceptively straightforward gameplay can be tough, infuriating, and rage-inducing. Yet, for unknown reasons, you won’t want to put it down. This is exactly how I feel about Hatup. It is as basic as they come, but it still pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Developed by Naoka Games and Eastasiasoft Limited, and published by the latter, this is a puzzle platform experience. What’s more, it is distinctly old-school and has a gloriously wonderful learning curve. Therefore, veterans and newcomers can enjoy it in equal measure.
Hatup has no story.
I still find it strange when a game has no central plot. Moreover, a reliance on key mechanics to keep their audience entertained is a risky approach. However, Hatup does particularly well with its well-trodden elements, simple but effective stage design, and interesting puzzles.
You control a chubby creature who is locked into 30 different areas. He must jump, fall, spring, and run to avoid gaps, spikes, and other obstacles. By doing this, he’ll collect keys, open new paths, and find his much-loved fez. With the hat firmly on his head and all keys collected, the hero can exit the stage and move on.
This is the core idea behind Hatup and it rarely gets out of hand. Accordingly, the gentle learning curve and drip-fed mechanics ensure the action feels balanced. Furthermore, the excellent, but familiar stage layout is tough enough to test experienced players. All the while, newbies will feel comfortable with any new and challenging elements chucked their way.
It’s all about the hat and the keys.
Though I’ve repeatedly highlighted the simplicity, it doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park. No, instead, the 30 levels require an accurate approach and a methodical mindset. Subsequently, you must activate switches, look before you leap, and plan when to wear your fez. Why? Well, the hat is strangely magical, and it alters each stage. Platforms will disappear and new ones will appear in different places. However, at times, you must remove your hat in order to access new keys or jump over larger gaps.
As you can see, Hatup mixes up its gameplay nicely. Consequently, it evolves past the basic platforming tropes while brilliantly incorporating puzzle mechanics. This blend of genres doesn’t always work. But I believe the developers got it just right.
Hatup is vivid and old-school.
We may be in an age of ultra-realistic graphics. However, there is still room for nostalgia. As such, games like Hatup sneak in under the radar and win us over with their retro charms. Thanks to the pixelated imagery, vivid colours, and interesting stage design, I loved what I saw. Furthermore, the contrast between each element made it easier to understand and fun to play.
A basic soundtrack can be annoying. However, somehow, Hatup manages to avoid that issue. Instead, its jovial audio works brilliantly with the short, sharp stages. Moreover, the 8-Bit sound effects are wonderfully annoying while adding to the charm.
The controls drove me insane! On one hand, they are simple, stripped-back, and easy to follow. Yet, on the other hand, they fell loose and lack accuracy. This is particularly infuriating when you have to land on a tiny platform. What’s more, dying at the last moment will make you scream in the latter stages. Accordingly, I wish the controls were tighter and less sensitive. If this were the case, the gameplay would be vastly improved.
Another shortcoming is longevity. Accordingly, 30 levels are simply not enough. What was also disappointing was the lack of a speedrun option. The action is set up perfectly to incorporate it, but it was overlooked. Moreover, a lack of collectables undermines a key component of the platforming genre.
Hatup is an enjoyable and casual experience.
Hatup won’t top any charts. Nor will it be widely spoken about. However, I believe that is a shame. Its colourful design, excellent approach, and casually retro ways make it a fun game to play. Subsequently, I’m happy to recommend that you buy it here! Can you find your fez and escape? Collect the keys, use your abilities, and get to the exit.