I’ve never been one for going back.
I very rarely watch a film twice, I never read a book more than once, and unless it’s to pick up a couple of super easy achievements, I’ll never ever play through the same story campaign in a blockbusting AAA game once those credits have rolled. You’ll never see me bothering with embracing memories of yesteryear with a backward compatible Xbox 360 game that was played to death the first time round, and spending time checking out the video game glories of even further back with the OG Xbox titles that can now be played on Xbox One just fills me with dread.
You see, I like to look forward. I like to play games that are at the cutting edge of modern day technology. I like to get myself involved in some of the finest creations coming out of the most modern game studios.
But then, Huey Games came along and delivered Hyper Sentinel. And all that went out the window. I was instantly hooked.
I wasn’t hooked on the story though, and the visuals certainly didn’t make me gasp in amazement. For as good as the retro soundtrack is, I could probably take it or leave it too. The real hook with Hyper Sentinel is found within the gameplay. Gameplay that harks back to when Hewson Consultants (Yep, spot the connection), created Uridium in 1986. I loved that game, and as an early teen who was obsessed with home computing, I remember piling many an hour into its side scrolling wares.
Hyper Sentinel is basically Uridium. Just a much more modern version. It does however come with the same super addictive gameplay that grasped me back in the day. And it is for that reason that you’ll find me waxing lyrical about the joy found within the newer edition.
With little in the way of story to worry about, Hyper Sentinel tasks you with taking control of a small side scrolling ship, as you enter numerous levels in an attempt to clear multiple ground forces, and eventually an end of stage mega boss – all for no reason other than to gain points and see yourself placing on the included worldwide leaderboards.
Hyper Sentinel really is that simple and it is that which sees the game become a hugely addictive affair, especially if you allow it to bring back all those good memories from a gaming time gone by.
Controlled with a simple flick of the left stick, with the right trigger acting as a boost and your A button firing a rudimentary forward firing weapon, you may find that the ship movement found in Hyper Sentinel comes across as a bit too basic, and you’d probably be right if it wasn’t for the huge waves of enemies that come out to stop you from destroying their forces. With the game running super smoothly and without a hitch, when flying into action at high speed it’s hard to really distinguish the differences between the various types of foes in your way. But you really don’t need to worry about that too much, and you certainly don’t need to concern yourself with how they will attack you. Basically, if you see something move, you shoot it. If something doesn’t move, you’ll still want to blast it to smithereens. Just ask the questions later.
This easy to understand gameplay is super quick to pick up, and when you throw in the fact that a twist from left to right, or right to left, sees your ship briefly become invulnerable, heading into the later stages with your eyes focussed and your fingers twitching is something that will most definitely happen. There will be times when the action will come across as so fast paced that you’ll be afraid to blink, for that could be the difference between more points and utter death. And believe me, you’ll want those points.
There are plenty of powerups to hunt down too, and these obviously make your life a whole ton easier. From energy boosts (something which you’ll need to grab should you wish to survive for a decent amount of time), shields, and a few different weapon add-ons which all help dish out the destruction, it doesn’t take long for Hyper Sentinel to turn into a blaze of shooting, a blur of movement and a trigger-happy fan’s dream.
A whole swathe of replayability options come about thanks to the fact that once a level is completed in Arcade mode, further Survival and Boss options open up. These do what you would imagine, with the former of the two requesting you to stay alive for as long as possible, whilst the latter delivers boss after boss after boss your way. This third option is a bit of a let-down though, and when placed alongside the fast paced shooting of Arcade, and the flexibility needed in order to survive more than a few seconds in Survival, it pales into the background. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have, but the real action is found elsewhere.
Further to this, the normal difficulty level can be amended so everything can be played through in Hard or Retro settings. You know as well as me that gaming was damn tricky in decades gone past and that is the whole vibe being emitted in the Retro difficulty.
With Mixer broadcast opportunities letting your viewers spawn both the enemies and the powerups that you rely on, should you get addicted to Hyper Sentinel, then you’ll quite probably find a game that is very hard to put down. Even more so should you find some like minded mates who fancy a leaderboard battle or two. The inclusion of multiple ‘medals’ on each and every level just enhances things, giving even more reason to go back.
It’s also lovely to see a variety of graphics ‘options’ which allow Huey Games to play on the old school CRT, brown C64 and monochrome Spectrum visuals that would have accompanied Uridium first time around. Personally though, whilst the nostalgia is great with those, you’ll have to be a proper retro fiend to bother playing with them for too long.
So, whilst much of Hyper Sentinel is great, it’s not all rosey, and there are a couple of things that let it down.
Firstly, it won’t be to everyone’s liking and I’d hasten to say that the younger gamer would take one look at the retro inspired visuals and screeching soundtrack to immediately be put off, retreating to the safety of something a bit more ‘modern’. But then, Huey Games sell this on the back of being a hyper-charged love letter to the arcade classics, so you should be aware of that before you even open your wallet.
It’s also pretty short and for all the replayability options in the world, you really do need just 5 minutes with Hyper Sentinel to see pretty much everything it can deliver. Yes, the bosses are different and become seriously taxing affairs the further you get through, and if you look really closely you will find that each of the 12 levels are slightly different from the next. But the entirety of this game really does boil down to holding the fire button as if your life depends on it, before moving left to right, and back again, as fast or as luckily as you can. Whether you see that as a bad thing or not will completely depend on the individual.
For me, I very much like what Huey Games have done with Hyper Sentinel. Granted, from my very first glance and initial hands-on time with this fast paced shooter, I was pretty much nailed on to like it. But even setting that aside, you can’t fail to be impressed with the highly addictive gameplay and multitude of level options that have been dropped in.
No matter what you may think, sometimes going back is good. Especially when it evokes such great memories of gaming from decades gone by. Hyper Sentinel does that brilliantly.