Forgotten Gems: Hyperblade


     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!

The Basics

     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.


The Reboot
     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.

The Reality

     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.

Kero Blaster: Who you gonna call? The Cleanup Frog!

   

   Kero Blaster is an indie title that I recently played and beat in normal mode that I thoroughly enjoyed. The indie game was developed by the same company who made Cave Story+ on steam, so it comes from a pretty good background.

The basic idea of the game is pretty simple in a way, you play as a frog in a side-scrolling  game shooting guns, defeating monsters, and bosses in a few different levels. However there is a lot more in the game as well when it comes to power-ups and more that you can purchase, both gun upgrades and life upgrades. Each time you ‘game over’ you end up in the hospital where you have a chance to buy from the medical store, or if you encounter the store in a level you can shop from both the medical and weaponry ones.  The weapon upgrades are your typical ones, though the max upgrades are very powerful where as if you focus on one early in the game you can most likely make it through the game pretty quickly.  The medical ones are a bit of the usual, though there is one that I find fascinating. The game’s life system runs on a  heart-based hitpoint, plus the usual lives as well. You can add how many lives you have of course, but also you can get a one time use jar that when you run out of hearts on that life it will give you a certain amount of hearts back. It actually reminds me a lot of the ‘guardian angel’ that you can get in League of Legends, where you don’t get all of your life back but you get enough to last  you to make it past the obstacle usually.

Some may say there are ‘only’ 7  levels in the game, however  these aren’t short levels. Many of them have mini-bosses for you to kill, though luckily after you kill them once they don’t reappear, making it a bit easier to get through the level. The length of the last level is one to drive you crazy though, at least it did for me. It took me a very long time to get through it because of how far back it throws you if you get a gameover in the last level.  For many of the levels and areas you can use any of the guns, but certain obstacles require certain ones. For example you have to use the fire gun to kill most of the ice enemies and to destroy the iceblocks. So as you can pick a favorite gun sometimes you will have to switch, luckily you can switch anytime with a push of a button.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the game though, because I highly recommend you guys try it . I had a lot of fun in the game and beat it during my stream,  and when that happened it unlocked a hard mode which I did not check out. The game features replay ability just because of how the difficulty system is. Also the graphics are simple ones, but I enjoy them, they remind me of older 8  bit games.  There are some frustrating areas but nothing game breaking, and nothing that stopped me from playing the game. So to sum it all up, this game is a great buy especially with the controller support! So check it out on steam for 9.99!

Top 5 Roguelike Games

One of my favorite types of games are described as roguelike, where you typically have one life and each time you start again everything in the world changes making the games addictive.  Here is my top five roguelike  games that I love, there are many more out there but these are the ones that come to mind. If you want to see these game’s steam page, it is linked in the title of each game in the article.

5.Dungeon Souls

dungeon souls

    Dungeon Souls is a 16 bit art style game where you can play as 8 different characters, 3 of which you start with the other 5 are unlocked as you do certain things in the game. The basic idea of the game is you have to unlock the marks in each floor to get to the next one. Also along with a character select they have a difficulty selection at the bottom of the character select, however at the beginning you can only select from 2 difficulties.

   The way you attack depends on who you pick, but I prefer the keyboard control scheme where you use WASD to move and the mouse to attack. One thing that makes this different then others when you play the game you can level up, but your levels only count for that play through and you actually have the chance to level up different skills as you go. The way it is set up kind of makes me think of a moba where you have 4 different skills that you can use. One  main gripe I  have of this game though is the enemies tend to appear randomly on top of you which makes it easier for you to die randomly to something you didn’t know would be there. The enemies like to spawn constantly even to the point that when you have been on a floor too long you get an ominous message, which seems to mean a big enemy is coming but I haven’t stayed on a floor long enough to find out. 

4.Spelunky

spelunky preview

   This is one game on this I feel like everyone probably knows about . This roguelike is a 2nd game where you have to go through mines and more to find the all mighty treasure. It even pokes fun at the fact the game is ever changing, having one of the characters in the story mention they kept dying and reappearing at the entrance yet the rooms were changing each time. The self aware this game has makes me rather happy,  I love it when games are self aware it always makes things interesting at least to me.

   The game has decent controller support for older controllers, however it doesn’t seem to register my ps4 controller so it’s one I haven’t gotten to try out the controller with yet. Your character from what I can tell does not change from each try, however you do get chances to go to stores at time and steal. Though when you harm the shopkeep he goes rather berserk and tries to kill you. The only way your travels show progress is as you find new things they are added in your journal that you keep , including new enemies and items.

3.Rogue Legacy

rogue legacy

  When you check out Rogue legacy there are quite a few things to notice at first. For example there are shops that you can use your gold from the last life in, not only that but there are ways to lock the castle so it doesn’t  change for that life.  When you are playing it there are several different types of characters you have a chance to be. Each time you enter there are 3 different people, who will carry on any upgrades you buy and are a part of your family tree. There are different size characters, and they even have different skill sets so they can have different magic etc.

The way the game is played is very typical of roguelikes, however the fact your attempt before affects the current try is interesting. If you had a good run you could buy items to help you get more health,  more armor and more. There is also a skill point tree that can help you through your journey, the game consists of 5 main areas with a vast amount of rooms per area. The growing of your character and skills greatly increases the replay value until you have all the things you want on your character. The 2d gameplay makes it feel like a bit of a blast from the past, with bright colorful graphics.

2.Binding of Isaac (Specifically the Binding of Isaac: Rebirth) 

bindingofisaac

  The basic premise of Binding of Isaac is you are are originally playing as Isaac who is trying to kill his mother who believes she needs to kill him. You are stuck in a set of dungeons below your room, and your weapon is shooting your tears which can be upgraded as well as having special item weapons and companions.

   Many things separate Binding of Isaac from other roguelike games. For one it has 4 rooms that are in every dungeon level, the golden room, the store, and a secret room for you to find , and of course the boss room as well. Binding of Isaac is a game that has evolved quite a bit, new versions coming out with quite a bit added to each one. For example one of the biggest additions in one of the new versions, The Binding of Isaac:  Rebirth, is the controller support that helps a lot when playing the game.  One of the nice things about Isaac is the fact that each time you beat the game it gets longer and there’s a chance of unlocking new characters. Yet even if you don’t get through the main set of dungeons there are enough items and enemies that you are practically guaranteed a unique run each time.

Honorable Mention: Magicite

magicite preview

   Magicite is the indie game that deserves an honorable mention in my opinion. The game is pretty fun, when I first got it with my friends it was because we thought it was something like Terraria. However we soon discovered it wasn’t. At the beginning you get to start was one species, however as you progress and achieve different things you earn different species and different accessories that give you special traits.

   One of the main reasons this is only a honorable mention is that the crafting is one of the main things in this game, and the crafting system is horrendous.  The recipes are awkward and you have to separate out materials to get just one of something otherwise you’ll most likely end up with a lot of handles without the materials to make a part to go ON the handle.  Besides that everything else is something I can deal with,   though I do wish the inventory and crafting was better. Though if you are wanting to play it in multiplayer good luck, last I tried it tended to phase out where one person would  get unsynced with the other players causing it to be unplayable because you couldn’t progress to the next  area.

1.Dungelot: Shattered Lands

dungelot 2

   Dungelot was a game that came out recently by the indie team Tinybuild, who have made quite a few amazing games. My first encounter with the game was when I watched some streams that had a promotional version of the game that gave out codes to viewers as the stream played.  To put the game simply its a roguelike minesweeper game set in dungeons. You move from space to space to find the key to get to the next floor, and when you have to fight it’s a quick turn based battle . Within the game there are four characters, three you unlock as you play through the game, so you start with a paladin who is pretty tanky.

   The unique gameplay in the game is what caught my interest in it immediately. It doesn’t take high reaction skills making it a more relaxing games. However it does take quite a bit of mental power because some of it becomes a bit of a puzzle to figure out how to avoid dying before reaching the level dungeon you need to get to to clear the area. Like in Rogue Legacy though there are ways to update your characters, because in this game every 5 levels you get a ‘break’ floor which gives you a chance to heal up etc. You can have items added to the break area that helps you out, or you can get things that will help update your character  or change how it starts the set or floors.

   All these rogue games are different from one another in some way, and I do recommend them all though they all of course have their own drawbacks as each game does. One very nice thing about this game style though is it has replayability because of how things change each time you go through the game. Are there roguelikes that I didn’t include that you like? Let me know down below I would love to try more!