Being a guardian angel seems like it would be tough work. Even more so when you’re tasked to help a bumbling man named Harold win a series of races. And that’s exactly what Moon Spider Studio has you do in their side-scrolling platformer title, Harold. How much fun can one have doing everything they can to ensure Harold wins the race?
As the naturally gifted guardian angel-in-training Gabriel, you are tasked to have the awkward yet determined runner named Harold. To be able to attend the illustrious Archangel Academy, Gabriel will need to ensure that Harold places no lower than third place in each of the twelve races. Between races, you get to view a short snippet that progresses the story.
Those hoping for a rich story will be disappointed. However, I feel that the story and its lightheartedness is a perfect fit for this side-scrolling platform title. Harold is lovable in a bumbling way and you can’t help but want to root for this underdog.
The gameplay behind Harold is easy to understand: Use motivation clouds to get Harold to run faster in bursts while navigating obstacles and turning the tide for his opponents. While the idea behind it is easy, the races do a very good job at being challenging enough to sometimes make you frustated. During the courses, there are obstacles that can hinder Harold or if used at the right time, can ensure Harold’s lead. As Harold is in a constant state of motion, you’ll need to perfect the timing of moving platforms to switching from one controllable obstacle to another before he runs into a dead end. Obstacles are not only useful in aiding Harold. They can be used to screw over his competition. From things like sliding platforms to a net full of fish fit for a whale to eat, the obstacles are varied and fit in with the setting of each course.
Luckily, you get the chance to pratice the current course to learn the ropes. Though it’s important to note that in order to access the actual race, you will need to complete the practice run. Harold might always be on the go but unless you motivate him, he’s a rather slow runner. To motivate him, you’ll have to use a bolt of lightning that shocks Harold into speeding up his pace for a short duration. The motivation puffs can be filled by collecting halos scattered throughout the course. It takes only two to fill a puff but with each ‘death’, you lose a halo. Once you are out of halos, death has you retry the whole course. It is important to note that in order to play Harold, you will need to use a controller. In a way, I feel as if this was the best option as Harold works well with the controller.
One thing that won me over with Harold is the art style. It’s cartoonish and it’s so easy to admire the Disney-like style.While the cutscenes are quite colorful and well-drawn, it is during the actually races that I feel the graphics shine. Just to see the amount of work put into it is impressive for Moon Spider Studio’s debut title. The music is relaxing and doesn’t distract you from the race while the narrator does a great job at delivering the story and practice instructions.
Though you race against other opponents, Harold is a single-player title. But you can compare your times with that of others on the leaderboards. With ten stages to race, you can expect to put away a nice chunk of time (my guess would be anywhere from 5 to 10 hours) to unlock all the races as well as complete the practice runs and challenges.
There were times that I wanted to moan and groan over how much trouble I was having at getting Harold in a top three spot in the races. There were also times that I just wanted to keep trying in hopes of netting him the gold. Harold might not appeal to those who want something a bit casual. But those who enjoy a challenge should definitely check out Harold.
Genre: Side-scrolling Platformer; Indie
Release Date: February 12, 2015
Developer: Moon Spider Studio
Publisher: Moon Spider Studio