It's not just the visuals that'll be familiar

Rhythm-based platformer Rhythm Hunter: HarmoKnight is a new IP from Game Freak, the developer behind the Pokémon series. It was released in Japan last August and will be jiving on over to North America and Europe in March.

As the release is almost upon us, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has put on his interviewing cap once more and has spoken to some of the developers about it in the latest Iwata Asks.

Of course Game Freak has another game coming out later this year, with Pokémon X & Y, and executive director Junichi Masuda said that the studio had split resources to ensure the upcoming 3DS title wouldn't be affected:

We are absolutely committed to meeting our fans’ expectations. We can’t exactly leave Pokémon to one side while we work on other games!

Masuda revealed that Game Freak has made a few changes and has seemingly been inspired by Google's '20% time' programme, which allows staff members to spend 20% of their working hours on their own projects.

We decided to change the internal structure of the company so that we could initiate new projects while still being able to give our all on Pokémon titles. We have structured things so that if you come up with an idea for a game, you can write a proposal for it; if you can then get two other people to support it, you will be given three months to make it.

HarmoKnight is the first game to come of this new system, with the idea soon taking off. The game's director James Turner, originally from England, was the man who had the bright idea and he detailed the initial concept, saying that it wasn't always rhythm-based:

I initially wanted to make a very simple action platformer. I was thinking about how to make it as simple as possible, and I decided that using just a single button to play would make it appealing even to people who aren’t very good at video games. It presented a really interesting challenge.

Shigeru Ohmori, the game's planner, revealed that HarmoKnight is aimed at all kinds of gamers, those who are dedicated players and those who may not be used to them as much. He said that the level of difficulty can be set accordingly so everyone can get enjoyment out of it:

As long as you don’t get hit by enemies and lose all of your hearts, you can keep progressing through the levels. Of course, if you do strike the flowers, you’ll get a higher score.

The game will have a large range of music genres within it, with Turner saying that each world in the game will have its own theme, whether it be classical, rock or calypso. It seems likely that players will end up having varying favourite worlds based on their music tastes.

Also revealed in the interview was more information on the boss battles, during which the enemy attacks you in a particular rhythmic order. Players have to respond to this by countering with the same attacks in the same order - defeating the boss if they are successful.

HarmoKnight features a few songs people may be familiar with, as Game Freak decided to include some Pokémon tracks. However, the decision wasn't taken lightly and Ohmori confirmed that the team was "extremely apprehensive about it".

James and I discussed it a great deal. We thought that a lot of players would find it unnatural to suddenly hear Pokémon music in a game set in an unrelated fantasy world, especially when the main game has a plot. But as an experiment, we included one Pokémon song, and it actually turned out to be really fun.

Ohmori also confirmed that HarmoKnight will run at 60 frames per second, with the rhythm action honed to within one-sixtieth of a second - pretty impressive stuff.

Rhythm Hunter: HarmoKnight will launch in North America on 28th March, with the game arriving in Europe on an unspecified date this month. The developer also confirmed that a demo would be made available shortly before release - any time now then.

Are you looking forward to playing through HarmoKnight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.