Hat Girl 64.
I have played many 3D platformers in my day. The N64 and PS2 eras were ripe with them, and I loved every minute of it. After a while, they began to die down in releases, and I always wondered why. Sure, people can get fatigued with the same genre or style so I understand to some degree, but I have always found the formula of having a goal, and reaching it in a 3D environment to be simple, yet fun to do if done correctly. With the release of A Hat in Time, I have finally found a new game to do just that and I couldn’t be happier.
Players control a young girl flying through space in her ship. Disaster strikes, and her ship leaks time pieces that are required to fuel her ship. They all fall to a nearby planet and must be collected so she can finally make it home. The only issue is that this planet is full of dangerous gangs, crazy environments, and some pretty tricky jumps. Luckily, with the help of her magic hat, she will be able to take the planet’s challenges on and get all her time pieces back.
Platforms: PC, XB1, PS4
Price I’d pay: $29.99
Immediately when beginning A Hat in Time, I started to compare the game to Mario 64. The platforming, the look, and even the use of levels had me constantly going back to that comparison. Players can double jump in air as well as dive jump just like the old school plumber. The big difference here is her hat abilities. There are balls of yarn that can be collected in each level that can be used to create new hats to equip, and each hat has a unique ability that usually helps the player reach a certain area easier. There’s a dashing hat that lets her run faster, and even a witch’s hat that allows her to throw short range bombs at enemies and destructible objects.
There’s a lot to like about collecting things in this game. Players can exchange their “orbs” for badges they can pin on their hats that offer up passive abilities like negating high falls off platforms or a magnet that picks up collectables when she gets close to them. Then, on top of that, players can find artifacts that can be use to unlock new secret levels that act like the hidden levels in Mario 64. It’s all here and there’s actually a lot to do.
What really nailed the Mario 64 comparison is the fact that each level in a chapter takes place in the same area. So, the first chapter is all about Mafia Town. The layout is always the same, but the goal of each level will be different. Players may be climbing a high structure to get to a time piece in on level while taking on a boss in a different part of the area in the next level. These mini open worlds have a good amount to collect, and exploring has some rewarding factors to it.
The biggest question is, is the platforming itself done well? Well, I can safely say, it is. While it was never really difficult, there were some “hold your breath” jumps in there. In the end, though, the jumping, while ever slightly floaty, was good enough to keep me coming back. Along with that, there are many environmental options that are there to help the player out. If she jumps onto a wall, she will wall run up it a little bit, if she is at the edge of a platform, she will automatically grab hold of it and pull herself up. These small mechanics make the platforming easier and much more fun instead of forcing the player to be overly precise.
The only issues I had were the camera can be spotty in some instances. It really doesn’t like to look very far up unless I unlocked it, and it seemed like every time I did that, the game thought I wanted to zoom out from my character to look around. No, I just wanted to look up. The other part is the voice acting. Not particularly the performances, but the dialog mixed with the voices always seemed to get on my nerves after a while. While the music is fantastic, I really never got along with the VO.
Coming kind of out of nowhere, A Hat in Time should be played by anyone who enjoyed 3D platformers like Mario 64. If you enjoyed Mario 64, you’re going to enjoy this. It is a nice homage to the king of platformers and one that I highly recommend checking out. There’s a lot to see and do here, and the platforming is well done with level design being thought out and intricate. I really enjoyed my time with it and any platforming fan will too.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.