I realise there's an English fan translation out there, but I don't play them. Not because I don't think they're awesome, I just feel that if I'm going to be showing screenshots, I should be showing the game as it was sold, not a modified version. Plus I'm sure I'll be able to figure out the basics without all those words telling me what to do.
I just hope the citizens are willing to pay him for this service, as I don't remember the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin having a happy ending for the stingy townsfolk.
Man, look at those faces in the background on the right, they look they've just realised they've wandered into an anime styled game by mistake.
I'm not going to continue until I figure this out, but neither google nor youtube are giving me any answers, and that's the only way I know how to learn things anymore! Oh right, maybe I can try one of those music identification sites on it.
MUCH MUCH LATER.
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by Bach (youtube link). Can't say that I ever would've gotten that by myself.
Anyway, now that ordeal is over with I can finally play the game. And look, it has a proper world map, the kind that actually lets me choose to replay old levels. It is much appreciated. I'm less appreciative of how it seems to have started me off in another forest level though.
Wait, are those floating coins casting a shadow on the sky? Oh crap, I just noticed that while I'm sitting here capturing idle animations and staring at coins, my timer has been ticking down! No more waiting, cancel the waiting.
Hang on, what happened to that sidekick of mine? I think I must have accidentally told her to wait behind back when we were at the start of the level. I hope she's quick on her feet, as that was 30 seconds ago and I don't have time to wait around.
This route seems to be a dead end, wasting my damn time, though there is a duck head icon over there that I think I'll grab. I have no idea what it does, I just want it.
The sign says something about changing clothes, which isn't much help seeing as I forgot to bring my spike-proof boots. I might as well try pushing all the buttons on the controller one by one anyway though I suppose.
Kigurumi is apparently the Japanese word for 'mascot costume' or 'fursuit' by the way, so she's not literally morphing into animals. Though she is literally about to dress up as an ostrich.
In this, uh, form she just carries on walking in the same direction indefinitely, unless she hits a wall and turns around, or I jump on her back and turn her facing the other way myself. She's just a walking platform though, so it's easy to fall off if I'm not careful.
Come on Pink Hat, climb up on those pink blocks on your right and jump up here already will you? She just keeps pacing underneath me, like she has virtually no path-finding ability whatsoever. You know, I'm not sure she even can jump now that I think about it. Well that's a bummer.
Hang on, there's no cannonball here. How am I supposed to break this wall down if I've got nothing... to... throw... Oh.
Hey Pink Hat, come over here for a second, I want to try something. I hope that hat of yours is more solid than it looks, as it might have to double as a crash helmet for this...
Fortunately collecting floating coins is easy when you've got a frog suit! Oh cheer up Pink Hat, Mario never whined about having to wear a frog costume. Though I suppose Mario didn't have Luigi riding on his back either.
LEVEL THREE - STAGE TWO.
11 SECONDS LATER.
Of course right now I'd be lucky to get her to the exit at all, as my violent violinist can't even throw a grown woman more than four meters straight up. Oh no, I think I've just figured this out and if I'm right, then the solution is horrible.
I'm not even going to allow my mind drift to dwell on mysteries like 'why does this monster's castle have music activated switches' or 'what's the deal with all these exploding bricks built into the walls'.
Speaking of mysteries, the biggest one I've found so far is 'why are there Pink Hat bricks placed around that only she can walk through?' The best theory I've got so far is that it's actually her castle and the monsters invaded and took it over. Either that or she's part of a clan of pink hat wearing agents working for the royal family who have free access through restricted areas when wearing their identifying headwear.
Back to the start of the stage again then.
68 SECONDS LATER.
You know, I've noticed something missing from a lot of my screenshots for whatever reason: enemies. They're all over the place in these levels believe me, I just happened to capture moments where they weren't around. Here, have a shot of me taking out a group of purple snakes by throwing Pink Hat in her bouncing curling stone costume to make up for it.
Never mind, too slow. Now I have to do the entire stage all over again from the start. Next time I'll have to remember to tell her to wait somewhere else, so that she doesn't automatically run over and trap me.
There's a way to pull off diagonal shots but fuck it, I've got full hearts here and no time for patience. I'm just going to run through the enemies and hope I can make it to a health item before I lose all my life. Oh by the way, the game gives me temporary invulnerability when I'm hit, and after playing a couple of games without that feature recently it's so nice to have it back.
After 90 tedious seconds of dodging rocks and shooting him in the face I ended up getting desperate and tried jumping towards him to get more of my shots to connect, throwing away my final heart.
Then I did it again and again, and believe me this fight didn't get any more fun for me on a replay. I mean yeah I admit I don't like boss fights to begin with, but a minute and a half of dodging rocks can't be many people's idea of fun. There must be something here I'm missing. I'm going to go crawling off to a youtube walkthrough, because I can't just quit without finishing world one.
I soaked up two hearts of damage in the process but I got the fight finished in 14 seconds. Win.
Actually, there's one last thing I needed to check. You see, I never actually managed to throw all my lives away in gameplay, so I don't know how the continues work.
The Violinist of Hameln seems to be a reasonably high quality, likeable platformer with some decent art and music. In fact I wouldn't be totally shocked if the entire soundtrack was made up of covers of classical music, though I only recognised two songs. Weirdly the AI sidekick character hasn't been a total pain in the ass and I never felt that she was slowing me down. Which is good because I often found myself running short on time.
I'm not sure the harsh time limit actually suits it though, as the gameplay doesn't exactly encourage racing forward, and there's plenty of puzzles and (often necessary) side paths. Even Violin Man's attack (okay fine I admit I know his name's Hamel and the girl in the hat is called Flute) roots him to the spot when he fires off notes. Personally though I'd have liked it more without the time pressure.
I know I'm getting way too lenient with games these days, but despite it annoying me at times I have to give this one a gold star. It's definitely not a great game, but after all my whining about the boss fight, my enthusiasm for it started flooding... well, trickling right back once I reached the next proper level. It's probably worth a look at least. There's a fan translation out there but it doesn't really seem necessary if all you care about is gameplay.
Thank you for potentially reading some of the things I said about The Violinist of Hameln, or at least scrolling through the screenshots. If you want to respond to anything I've written, share your own opinions on the game, or just talk about the site in general, you're welcome to leave a comment.