Can you believe it’s been five years since SUPERHOT landed on the Xbox One? It’s one of those ‘time goes fast’ things, which – of course – is the opposite of what SUPERHOT’s about.
In those five years, SUPERHOT’s been busy, hitting most platforms (you know a game’s ubiquitous when it’s released on the Google Stadia), releasing a booster pack in the form of MIND CONTROL DELETE, getting a run on VR, releasing a board game and – we didn’t know this until we researched it – seeing production on a Japanese-only reimagining of the core game. What’s so un-Japanese about SUPERHOT?
Anyway, the franchise has been busy. To mark the five year anniversary of the wonderful red and white bolt-from-the-blue that arrived in 2016, we thought we would suggest some spin-offs for the IP. SUPERHOT – you’re welcome.
For those who aren’t interested in a bit of kickball, Ferenc Puskás was a Hungarian footballer who slotted in roughly a goal-per-game in his long career. He also had a knack for scoring bangers. In recognition of his achievements, the Puskás Award was created: an annual trophy for the most outrageously sublime goal that was scored that year.
You can probably see where this is going. Strip football down to the simplest of elements, bring in the SUPERHOT colours, and let players replicate and – even – improve on the greatest goals that this world has ever seen.
Defenders sliding in? Stop time, consider your options, ‘meg them and dink a lob over the goalkeeper. Then watch the full maneuver in glorious full-speed, before getting the judgement of whether you beat the original. Match it or beat it, and the Puskás is yours.
SUPERHOT: Star Wars
The SUPERHOT formula is great for mapping onto frenzies that the human brain can’t keep up with. Slow it all down, allow decision-making in the milliseconds, and then watch everything play out as if you’d done it in real-time.
Now imagine all that in the Star Wars universe, with SUPERHOT effectively gatecrashing a ‘greatest hits’ tape of Star Wars. Here’s our pitch.
Imagine the trench run, with the cockpit lit up by the turrets that surround you. You’re Luke, you’ve got your wingmen with you (go Wedge!), and the odds are stacked against you. Except you have the Force, which means you can slow down time, dodging fire, hitting enemies before they take out your wingmen, and then nailing the final blast.
Or perhaps the Jedi make more sense? Take SUPERHOT, and now make the main character a Jedi, lightsaber and all. Now roll in the Stormtroopers, destroyer droids and more, and boomerang your lightsaber around the room as you force-push others.
Not everything has to be bombastic and overblown. Even SUPERHOT has a tendency to make it action, all of the time. Now, imagine that there was a greater orientation towards choosing, very carefully, when to activate it. Now you have SUPERHOT: Hitman.
Given the task to take down a group of five or six people, quietly, without anyone else in the vicinity noticing? Well, wait till everything is lined up according to your plans, then press the SUPERHOT button and kill them with a single bullet.
Need to escape when everyone is on your heels? Press the SUPERHOT button and dance around enemies’ lines of sight on the way to the exit. Then watch as the full job is played out in real-time.
There’s no reason to keep to humans, punching and shooting each other in slow-mo. There’s plenty of room for other subjects.
Welcome back Stuntman, and the Stuntman franchise. This is your way back to relevance: boil everything down to the SUPERHOT hot sauce. You’re given a script, the beats that you must hit, but then you get to improv on top of that.
Drive your car up the ramp on a lorry, fling yourself off the motorway, and fire out of the window at the bad guys. Get points for the sheer audacity of the stunt, and then receive bookings for bigger and better movies off the back of it. Of course, you get to see the stunt at full speed, shot like Michael Bay on one-too-many cans of Monster.
SUPERHOT: John Wick
It’s the obvious one. We almost feel dirty writing it. John Wick first released back in 2015, so is only a year older than SUPERHOT, and – for reasonably clear reasons – we’ve always slotted them into similar spaces in our brain.
The great thing about John Wick, though, is the richness in the mythology, which can absorb plenty of other media. We’ve seen John Wick Hex, a turn-based strategy game, and we’re getting a TV series to expand the universe. So why not a SUPERHOT?
SUPERHOT had a superb story, but it was a series of punchlines ramping up to a twist, rather than anything you’d call a plot. SUPERHOT: John Wick would allow the time-slowing and headshots to have a narrative context, and you get Keanu Reeves into the bargain. It could be breathtaking.
Alright, now we’re into the curveball. Hear us out.
SUPERHOT was often at its best when the action was ridiculous. Odds were stacked against you and emerging at the end was improbable. But you always felt like you had the tools to win, and – with a little skill – you could be successful, and watch the whole ballet play out at the end.
There’s almost no ceiling to how much chaos can play out in a single moment. You could add more and more people, explosions and duels and it would still be fun to watch. Switch cameras, and focus on different aspects of it.
Now, imagine a plain, classic SUPERHOT level, with multiple NPCs coming at you. You fight back, and you survive or die, but with a time limit hanging over you. Now, just like the Madlibs game that you might have played at school, once the time elapses, you fold over the paper and someone else gets to continue the story.
They play midway through your carnage, and have to dodge your wayward bullets and the barrels that you exploded. They fight the enemies you may have missed. But they also play beyond the timeframe of the previous player, and more enemies enter. Then the time limit stops, and play passes to the next person.
What you have is players trying to survive another player’s carnage, before going on to create their own. And the results get sent round to everyone to watch in real-time. It’s like SUPERHOT the MMO, but – you know – not that massive, barely multiplayer and only sporadically online.
Of course, there’s always the stance that SUPERHOT has reached the end of its line. Great ideas don’t have to be wrung dry, and the gaming industry doesn’t have to experience death by sequels.
But Superhot Team, if you’re looking to commemorate a fantastic five years, or make some big bucks by hooking yourself to an established franchise, well – you’re welcome.
Do you have ideas for some SUPERHOT spinoffs? Or perhaps you just have great memories of this unexpected indie hit? If so, stick them in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you.
And if you’ve never played SUPERHOT, you’re missing out on something special. We’d advise you popping over to the Xbox Store immediately and dropping the cash on the SUPERHOT ONE OF US BUNDLE for £29.99 – it brings together both the original game and that of MIND CONTROL DELETE.