Hyperdrive Massacre, a name that tells a tale of cosmic violence and exaggeration. A name that is both singularly bombastic and generic, revealing its hyperbolic retro excitement the minute you read the last syllable.
This game is certainly a throwback to the days of yonder, both in style and substance. You’ll be witness to a collision of pixel art and space cars. Like those terrible cartoons everyone watched on Saturday mornings (not including Animaniacs, which was awesome), the theme for Hyperdrive Massacre is wafer thin. The game is colourful and explosive and fast paced. The cars are bright and quick and inexplicably flying through various space.
Another form of Hyperdrive’s old age is the insistence of local only multiplayer. While obviously trying to pander to the nostalgic sense of friendly multiplayer, the swirling destruction of Hyperdrive Massacre doesn’t have the necessary thrill sustain itself on couch surfing alone.
While local-only works, and even benefits some games; like the outrageously hilarious and cute Gang Beasts, Hyperdrive Massacre is not one of them. Local only is best when there is a feature for you to talk about, laugh about, in person. Gang Beasts has you rolling with laughter and screaming with your adversaries with its oversimplified gameplay and unpredictable outcomes. While Hyperdrive is simple enough to pick up and play instantly, it lacks that special something that keeps you fully engrossed.
What Hyperdrive Massacre is, is a good shooter. Built like a twin stick shooter, you pilot a space car in a singular screen sized arena. With up to three friends of AI bots, you duke it out for a variety of floating objectives. Against the 2D plain of the arena, your car can only fire forward so manoeuvrability and speed are the keys to success.
Mines and debris generate randomly across the arena too, hindering speeding, gun and gun tactics. There is some element of intelligence in the gameplay, luring the enemies into the mines homing field or dodging behind asteroids that to close in. At the same time there is a frantic atmosphere with up to four players bouncing around firing weapons chaotically. It’s a fun mess, with plenty of game modes, but there is no reason that Hyperdrive Massacre wouldn’t benefit from online play as well.
The AI bots are a reasonable challenge, but don’t offer the smarter, more wild combat that makes Hyperdrive the most enjoyable it can be. Of all the game modes available for Hyperdrive Massacre, Death Race is the most enjoyable. Over the same 2D plain, the game throws checkpoints out randomly across the screen. The first player to touch the checkpoint receives the points while everyone can attempt to destroy their opponents to get there first.
With multiple weapon pickups that can be anything from a shotgun type blast to homing missiles, you can appreciate the different scenarios you’ll face. Like a lot of these games old and new, everyone will find a preferred weapon and one or two that completely ruins their playstyle. This adds an amusing gamble as the weapon pick-ups are random and do not show their contents. Luckily weapons only last until death, so you won’t have to deal with them for long.
Simply playing two player unfortunately falls down from the local duels of Nidhogg you might be hoping for. Instead, due to the singular screen, the game quickly descends to flashpoints that often end in intentional or not spawn killing. If you only have only a single spare controller, you’ll be best to add in bots to avoid a seemingly endless war of attrition until victory.
Winning is obviously the outcome, but despite its colourful design and cassette tape loading screen, the game has a certain blandness that prevents a real sense of satisfaction or competitive spirit. Though it’s very well made, the cars move smooth and the shooting as a good weight to it, there isn’t much more to the game than a thin veil of colour over some very basic systems. Helldivers, a possible evolution to the twin stick shooter adds in QTEs, friendly fire and a good sense of comedy. Hyperdrive Massacre attempts to build a retro vibe but offers nothing else to encourage the player.
Hyperdrive Massacre is a good game to start a nightlong session. It’s a good way to loosen everyone up or play while waiting for everyone else to arrive. It’s fun without being great, competent without being outstanding and engaging without being rewarding. Hyperdrive Massacre is a solid single-stick shooter with a nice retro futuristic vibe, and some interesting moments. But it is not Rocket League, it’s not Nidhogg, it’s not Gang Beasts, you won’t be calling out congratulations or insults, you can sit in relative calm playing through several rounds of Hyperdrive Massacare.
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