HyperZone (SNES, 1991)

HyperZone-cartridgeIt’s like someone made a ROM hack of F-Zero.

The Book of Wikipedia says that HyperZone’s design was based off the trippy climax to “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Well… it sort of looks like that, but it seems more like it just happened because of how the game would look if you made a shooter like this. Mode 7 and those slit scan effects look a bit alike, the way flat surfaces run at you from a well-defined horizon. I suppose they could have seen what they were able to do with Mode 7 and someone said “Hey this looks like 2001” and they ran with it for the backgrounds.

HyperZone-recharge

And they stole the yellow box obstacles from Super Mario World!

But as for the tracks you fly along… basically they took F-Zero tracks and gave you movement along the y-axis. I mean you are flying along the tracks from F-Zero. Same road, same yellow circles and black barrier, same health recharging portions of the track (though they’re colored differently) that are often in the same locations as their F-Zero counterparts. Your ship looks like it could be a car in F-Zero.

The controls weren’t particularly fast or responsive in this game, but on the other hand when you got to smaller areas it felt like the ship jumped a little too fast, like every tap on the D-pad moved you thirty feet. So maybe the struck the proper balance and my varying levels of desparateness shaped my interpretation. I also think you couldn’t fire rapidly enough.

HyperZone-Stage_2_Boss

Cyborg lava monster that shoots blue balls of energy past your HUD? Sure. Whatever.

There isn’t much of a story to the game. Just blast your way through 8 levels because evil alien cyborgs are attacking humanity’s attempt to leave a version of Earth where global warming alarmism was ignored for too long… or maybe we all decided to follow China/the USSR’s model and pollute like there was no tomorrow until eventually there wasn’t a tomorrow. I’m glad it said the enemies were evil anyway, because otherwise it looks like you’re playing as something/someone from Earth who is killing aliens so that we can steal their territory because we screwed ours up too much. That would be morally objectionable if the aliens weren’t already bad hombres.

My Take On It

HyperZone-Ship_Change

For some reason, at the start of Level 3 (you’d be forgiven for thinking this was Mute City) you change cars.

I suck at shooter games of any kind. I think I alluded to that before. But I do like me some Mode 7 effects like what we see in this game. Super Mario Kart, F-Zero, and Pilotwings will always be tops with me, and for weirdos like me who said “I want Star Fox but without the Super-FX chip” then this is the best thing I’ve played like that… well, at least the best dedicated game like that. The Star Wars games have some Mode 7 stuff goin’ on, but A: there’s too much detail dagnabbit! and B: it’s not entirely what the games are about. And C: they are hard. Very hard. I only was ever able to beat Super Star Wars without cheating; the rest I needed infinite lives for. And I’m pretty sure Super Return of the Jedi’s graphics were achieved by infusing the microchips with midichlorians.

HyperZone-Game_Over

Level 3, out of 8. But I think I got to the boss anyway… during an earlier run that I lost a life on leading up to this final life lost.

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