Harold technically is classified as a 2D side-scrolling racer. Technically. Because you are 2D. And it is side-scrolling. And you are, indeed, racing. But Harold is more complex than that. It incorporates platforming and environment interaction and manipulation to your own advantage. The game does require the use of a controller (preferably Xbox 360) to control despite the fact that it is a PC title and this is due to the nature of the game. But I’ll get to that.
If I had to choose one world to describe the game I would say is that this game is challenging. Continually. Every race you compete it in requires you to go through a practice round to prepare you for the added new obstacles and environments. Within each practice run you have three stars you can collect, one of which is on a timer and is only collected when you complete the run with near perfect accuracy manipulating the obstacles along with manipulating Harold himself. The unique way in which you control both Harold and the environment is executed perfectly using a controller (as the game requires). You use only use the x button to control Harold, but you use the R2 trigger to manually cycle through and choose which obstacle you are manipulating, both L1 and R1 to boost Harold, and the left joystick to execute the manipulation.
In the actual races the goal is to at least get third place and because Harold is, well, Harold you will start in last place in every race. To get to at least third there are a few things required for you to do: You have to aquire and use Puff Powers, which are essentially speed boosts, to make you move fast. These are acquired by collecting the golden halos which are similar to the stars that you collect in the practice runs, and also by interfering with the other mortals who are racing. There are also shortcuts in every race that are achieved by perfectly executing the obstacle manipulations which boost you father than the other racers. You can also increase the number of Puff Powers that you can store at a single time by collecting all of the stars in the practice runs. If you are aquiring and using Puff Powers along and interfereing with the other racers along with manipulating the obstacles and controlling Harold then you can win. As I said, this game can be challenging.
The hand-drawn animation is quirky and allows for exposition on characters and a story unseen in most side-scrollers and platformers and I feel that Moon Spider Studios did a great job of creating a world around the racing mechanics and I feel it really paid off.