The Hyposphere series is no stranger to Xbox consoles as earlier iterations have released through the Xbox Creators Collection; through this route to the Xbox Store, games are not allowed achievements and online multiplayer. Hyposphere: Rebirth is the first in the series to have a ‘full’ release on Xbox consoles, and it more than makes up for the lack of achievements in previous entries with some ridiculously easy ones here.
You are the pilot of the Hyposphere – a spherical vehicle on a mission to stop a deadly computer virus that has infected every connected device out there. Unnecessary plot aside, you have to manoeuvre a marble through a variety of platforming levels. It’s a gameplay trope adopted hundreds of times before in the likes of Marble Madness, Kula World and One Hundred Ways, and Hyposphere: Rebirth won’t be the last one either.
It also won’t be as fondly remembered as any of the others.
Hyposphere: Rebirth tasks you to get your ball from A to B across no less than 101 levels, with the finish line indicated by a large blue gate. Levels consist of a variety of obstacles including turntables, moving platforms and lethal lasers. There isn’t anything here that you haven’t seen before.
Early levels start off fairly simply, but as you progress things do start to get a bit more complex. Branching paths and tight, twisty corners become a factor. But rather than introduce them gradually and apply a difficulty curve, levels are thrown at you haphazardly with no increase in difficulty to speak of.
The major reason for this is the incredibly floaty physics of the ball itself. Get any sort of momentum going and you can jump over most of the levels and head straight for the goal. Even jumping from a static position gives you plenty of time to pick a landing spot as it takes an age for the ball to float back down. Obstacles and traps that appear in front of you on the path ahead can easily be jumped over every single time.
This haphazard approach also extends to the overall aesthetic of Hyposphere: Rebirth. Rather than seeing us travel through distinct areas with levels grouped together on their appearance, the stages are thrown at you almost in a random order. Level designs will reappear throughout the 101 levels but seemingly in any old order. Given that a plot has been added to explain the on-screen action, the levels should have been grouped together to reinforce the plot.
It pays to not be floating at all times though, as there are plenty of items to pick up on your travels. Coins collected can be spent in the in-game shop to purchase more lives, though you start every new game with 50 so there is no shortage of them. Lives themselves can be picked up, though they appear far less frequently than other options. There are also diamond-shaped items that award points, which you will need if you want the full 1000G, but more on that shortly. Finally, there are several items which alter the shape of your ball, such as one pickup that increases the size so you can snake down tracks that look like they were ripped straight from a pinball machine.
There are others dotted throughout, but I genuinely couldn’t tell you what difference they make.
However, sometimes it is difficult to avoid getting some hang time, whether that be high above the level itself, or way down below it. Due to the nature of the platform placement, cracks and overlaps are present, giving you the feeling of driving along a potholed country road at times. This can cause the ball to pop up at frustrating moments, whilst also giving the further impression of a lack of polish.
Then, at other times the ball will mysteriously just drop through the surface during certain later levels without any prior warning.
The soundtrack isn’t half bad however, but you really do get the feeling the tracks were picked from a bank of royalty free songs; again, they don’t fit with what is occurring around them. The file names of certain tracks will also appear in the middle of the screen on the odd occasion just to add to the concern that Hyposphere: Rebirth development has involved cutting corners.
If you can forgive the major flaws, then there are 60 easy Xbox achievements on offer. It’s a substantial list, but one that can be completed in less than two hours. Every two levels awards a 10G achievement, and there are also several progressive achievements related to reaching certain scores. I reached the high score of 2000 around level 70 and Hyposphere: Rebirth was then simply a case of launching myself in the air to reach the goal in the easiest way possible.
It is tough to recommend Hyposphere: Rebirth on Xbox to anyone other than achievement hunters, and even then it is probably best to still avoid it. The gameplay is far too simple once you get to grips with the floaty physics, and this just highlights the bigger issue of a lack of polish all round. No cohesion, no difficulty curve and poorly designed levels just can’t offset the promise of an easy 1000G.