GAME NAME: Hyper Void
GENRE(S): Arcade shooter
RELEASE DATE(S): February 10th, 2015
Harkening back to the days of jamming quarters in arcades and, eventually, their cheap Nintendo ports – comes Hyper Void, an arcade space shooter along the lines of Gradius and Wing Commander. Throw in, of all things, a little Andy Asteroids from Earthworm Jim and you’ve got yourself a game!
Hyper Void takes place in the far future, where an unknown alliance of enemies from across the galaxy is threatening humanity. Story is extremely sparse, and much of it is revealed without any context. This alliance leaps through wormholes created by black holes to attack in unexpected spots, so a special ship – yours, the RM-24 – is designed to track and take out these assaults. That’s done by mashing your controller buttons whenever almost anything appears onscreen. Stage names and the brief interstitial are almost unintelligible bits of machine programming, adding to the strangeness of the setting. Not that this really detracts from the game itself, though – since arcade shooters like this are generally light on story anyway, to focus more on shooting the bad guys.
The stages move on their own, and traversal is always straight-ahead, with some contained strafing. Most of the time, you’ll be blasting away at everything you see, although some levels have you avoiding massive asteroids. Of course there are boss fights as well, which can get a bit annoying with their staggering difficulty spikes. The first boss, for example, comes after a few stages of reasonably easy shooting gallery stuff. Then, when you meet him, he vanishes off-screen and strikes with completely un-telegraphed, screen-filling attacks. This happens once every four or five stages though, so although these fights can be brutal, they’re a bit refreshing. Since the rest of the game is a straightforward (quite literally) arcade shooter, these sudden bursts of challenge are welcome.
Although the gameplay is fairly one-note, a few systems in the game add a bit of depth. The weapon systems your ship has are a little varied; a fast weak attack, strong slow blaster, and a constant laser stream are your options. However, they all draw energy from the same resource pool, requiring you to be smart with your attacks. Running out of energy with a screen full of enemies is an easy way to die, but getting the rhythm down to keep on shooting without draining completely feels great. In addition to lateral movement, there’s a dodge move that streaks you across a short distance. Timing this correctly takes a little practice, especially in asteroid stages, but is absolutely a lifesaver. And in many of the stages, the level is completely cylindrical, allowing you to move on the ceiling to shoot and escape – a trick out of another early 90s game, Metal Storm. It can get a little bullet hell at times, but there are generally some good breaks in the action to take a breath before another thousand enemies and lasers come at you.
Hyper Void’s graphics are pretty solid for its space action setting. Alien planets loom in the distance while asteroids zip by, setting a nice background to blast past as you shoot. Most of the regular enemies can get a little bland – think basic sci-fi ships – but the bosses, particularly the last one, are pretty interesting. And stage transitions, weirdly enough, are very well-done. Going from open space to the wormhole stages are a fascinating spectacle and really never get old. And the floating HUD that gives occasional story info or announcements feels right in place, rounding out the whole graphical package nicely. Honestly, if this wasn’t a shooter and just a pretty space traversal game, that would be good enough to warrant a purchase. It’s weird to say that the game sometimes gets in the way of the graphics, but for the most part the two coalesce well together. Adding to this is a pounding soundtrack, appropriate enough for the playstyle. None of the songs are particularly memorable, but they frame the action well.
If you’re looking for a space shooter to pick up and play right away, Hyper Void is definitely your bag. Although the action can get repetitive and the shooting as a whole is a bit one-note, the challenging boss fights, tight visuals, and ease of getting into the action are worth your time. It’s a very slickly-produced game for such a small development team, and definitely a quality arcade shooter.