Hello, and welcome to the first edition of Forgotten Gems, a look at games that have been lost in the ether of time that maybe deserve a second look and a possible reboot as according to me, Sean Strife. On the first edition of Forgotten Gems for Game Rumors, I will be looking at a little known game from a huge name publisher that blended the speed of hockey, the play-style of lacrosse, the violence of Mortal Kombat, and the trick-stylings of another game from the publisher’s line-up of franchises: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. We will be looking at the futuristic cyberpunk sports game: HyperBlade!
HyperBlade was released by developer Wizbang! Software Productions and publisher Activision in 1996 for PC. Yes, the same Activision that is shoving the likes of Call of Duty and Skylanders used to give us interesting and imaginative IP like HyperBlade. There were scheduled versions for the Sega Saturn and the Sony Playstation that were both ultimately cancelled, however. In HyperBlade, you got to pick from 1 of 12 teams and played in an elliptical dome that was simply known as “the Drome”. You managed your selected team in a sport that allowed things such as steroids, extreme brutality, bionic appendages, anything as long as it kept the games fast-paced and exciting.
Each team consisted of 5 players: 2 out on the field (whom you got to control), 2 in reserve, and a goalie that you didn’t get to control. Along with this, there were several obstacles that you could take advantage of, such as a mine you could place to obliterate your opponents, a turnstile that you can cause to spin and do some major harm to other players, a laser hurdle that players should avoid at all costs, and killball charger, which charges the rok (what HyperBlade called its ball) into a killball that you could throw at somebody and deliver a high voltage shock to them. On top of these tactics, you could also use your jak (your hockey/lacrosse stick) to severely maim or decapitate other players. Games are set up into 3 rounds that can last either 3, 5, or 7 minutes (depending on how you set your rounds up prior to the game starting) and whoever has the most points wins… even if the team who wins has been completely annihilated. This game also gave out awards for special achievements in a game, such as the Supernova (if your team can rack up 30 points in a game), the Anvil (if you take out an entire team for a season), and the Archer (if every shot that you make winds up being a goal), among others. Basically, if you’ve ever seen the movie Rollerball (either the original from 1975 or the mediocre remake from 2002), you have a rough idea of what HyperBlade is about.
A potential reboot of HyperBlade at the hands of Activision actually wouldn’t be too hard to pull off. You keep up the futuristic aesthetic of the original game, maybe bring nanotechnology into play for it given how many advancements have been made in the scientific field not only in the realm of medicine, but also biomechanics and nanotechnology. You could even take some of the principles they’re laying out in these more futuristic Call of Duty games and apply them into the world of HyperBlade and use it almost as a commentary for just how dangerous enhancement drugs can be and maybe even go in a very Deus Ex-esque direction on touching on the philosophies of how human can one be if they are almost entirely cybernetic.
In story mode, you could play as a rookie to the big leagues who’s working towards rising the ranks and you can choose between taking steroids, getting cybernetic enhancements, and so on and so forth and your choices affect your character’s personality and play style throughout the game. It would certainly be a unique take on sports games, that’s for sure. You could also do a single player mode where you can customize the characters on your team and outfit them with various performance-enhancing drugs, robotic enhancements, and nanotechnological enhancements (which would function as a stronger, more durable version of the robotic enhancements) before taking them into the Drome, and you can take your customized team onto multiplayer and play against other players online or even potentially offline with friends (if one were so inclined). When in play, you can gain an in-game currency for successful kills, tricks pulled off during play (which was a thing in the original, albeit in a very basic manner), and overall wins that will allow you to unlock new color options, new armor types, new performance-enhancing drugs, and the aforementioned biomechanical and nanotechnological enhancements to make a team of the ultimate badasses.
Despite how much I would really love to see a HyperBlade reboot, and the fact that the company who published it (and more than likely holds the copyright for it) is still very much alive and well, I can’t see Activision experimenting with a genre-blending experiment like I’m proposing for HyperBlade: as long as they can still make money milking things like Skylanders and Call of Duty (although sales for Call of Duty HAVE been waning over the past few years), they’re going to continue to play it safe and go with what they know will make money. Even if they were to experiment with a 3rd person action/sports hybrid like I’m proposing, I get this distinct feeling that they would shoehorn microtransactions in to make it easy to get the in-game currency to beef up teams without having to actually play the game and earn said in-game currency and it would ultimately lead to an unbalanced experience because some people are too impatient to play through the game and earn the currency the hard way by actually playing the game.