You Should Play: Hazumino

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These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

If you like Tetris, platformers, endless runners, and multi-tasking, I have the perfect game for you.

Hazumino is a brilliant—and totally bizarre—mash-up of everything that is awesome. It's a platformer à la Super Mario. It's an endless runner à la Robot Unicorn Attack. It's a block-stacking game à la Tetris. And it's all of these things at the same time.

Does that sound confusing? The concept is actually quite simple, though unique. Hazumino is an endless runner with a twist—instead of simply avoiding obstacles as you run, you also have to build the path you're running on. Of course, you have to build this path out of tetraminos, which are flying at you from the side of the screen. And you have to do this while jumping over and avoiding obstacles that you yourself built (the irony!). Also, there are coins to collect, but we'll get to that later. 

In other words, Hazumino is definitely a game you should play, and here's why.

Easy to learn, but oh so difficult to master: Once you understand the twist, Hazumino is...pretty darn simple. You run. You jump. You build your path. You try not to die—pretty basic. But if you play this game for more than a minute or two, you'll quickly find that it's not quite that easy.

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Hazumino combines elements from three different gameplay styles, which is what makes it so addicting.

Although Hazumino looks like your typical side-scrolling platformer, it's actually an endless runner, which means your character is the one running (albeit very slowly). And your character is weak—if he or she even touches a wall, they die. That doesn't mean "if they get trapped between the edge of the screen and a wall," it means touches. So if you accidentally build a hole and your character falls into it, well, you'd better be quick to jump out of there. (It also means that if you accidentally throw a block into your character, they'll die. Don't ask me how I know this.) 

The game gets difficult pretty quickly, and there's a decent learning curve to flinging tetraminos sideways and making a path (rather than building a solid wall of blocks). At first, I thought it'd be simple—I'd just make a straight path and completely ignore the jumping/avoiding obstacles part of the game, but I soon realized that lining up the blocks for a straight path was simply too time-consuming. In order to truly excel at this game, you'll have to find just the right balance between efficient path building and using quick reflexes. 

Unique unlockables: The big problem with endless runners is that... they're endless. So in order to keep people interested and challenged, endless runners usually offer tons of unlockable upgrades, which you can typically purchase by trading in coins (or whatever) you collect as you run. Hazumino does offer unlockables, but it doesn't offer any upgrades to make your life easier. 

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Unlockables don't quite help you win, but they do offer fun characters and add a new challenge (if the game isn't already challenging enough).

Instead, Hazumino has 16 different characters that you can unlock with the coins you collect (coins are multicolored blocks placed occasionally throughout the map). The twist, of course, is that you're building your own path, so if you want to collect coins you'll probably have to change whatever strategy you thought you had. You see, picking up coins isn't as simple as tilting to the side or jumping at the right time: Coins are placed at random heights, so most of the time you'll have to strategically build steps (up or down) to reach them.

In other words, you can't simply build a straight path and coast through the levels—not if you want to unlock awesome characters like bears and wizards. 

A retro-styled treat: Hazumino's graphics are on-point: The entire game is done in a retro style, with blocky 16-bit backgrounds and a funky chip-tune soundtrack, but it's not so old-school that you'll feel like you've dusted off your NES. While the game's backgrounds and menu screens feature blocky graphics, the characters themselves are high-def and three-dimensional. The tetraminos are also 3D, which helps them stand out against the backgrounds. 

As your character runs, they log points (miles?) that help them move toward unlocking the next world. There are five worlds, each of which has a different style, soundtrack, and overall feel. For example, the first world offers up a sort of generic retro-feel, with bright green grass, mountains, and a blue sky, while the second world has a Western feel and is done entirely in sepia tones. Gameplay varies a little in each world, too—in the first world, there's a guide for placing tetraminos, while subsequent worlds have no guide. 

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Each of Hazumino's five worlds has a different look and feel, all while sticking to the retro theme. 

It's not often that I see games inspired by traditional standbys that aren't just remakes of said standbys. Hazumino is unlike any game I've played before, and that's not a bad thing—it'll definitely keep you on your toes.

Developer: Samurai Punk
Platform: iOS (Universal) and Android (Universal)
Price: $2

This story, "You Should Play: Hazumino" was originally published by TechHive.

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