Hyperdrive Massacre, if you’re a child of the 80s, is a game that should bring back tons of fond memories. Many of them full of hate; hate and rage. 34BigThings, in their infinite wisdom, decided to model Hyperdrive Massacre after games from that era. They were very successful in doing so; maybe too successful. It managed to bring back the old “Atari rage” I felt as a youth in the cutthroat world of mall video game arcades. There’s a lot of good things here, but not enough to really hold your interest after the nostalgia fades.
That is, of course, if you’re playing as a group on a sugar high; or you’re into 50 Shades of Gray gaming. If that’s the case then play away, you dirty masochist, because after a few hours it starts to feel like torture and you’ve forgotten your safe word.
There’s no story to speak of but feel free to create your own narrative to explain all of the neon, synth-pop, and space cars that shoot weapons. It’s simple and straightforward stuff that does a perfect job of bringing mindless gaming into the open. The premise of the game is simple: survive and kill. That’s all there is to it. This tiny action game pits you against the A.I. or other local players (which is what makes this game actually fun) in a non-stop battle for survival. You fly around the game field shooting at your opponent(s) and dodging debris while avoiding their weapons.
The game lasts as long as you want depending on the game mode you select and how long you can take the monotony before pulling the plug. Get your feet wet with a few matches against the A.I. (which is ridiculously difficult – it’s pretty much infallible) before challenging your friends (you can play 4 people at a time locally).
The 8 battle arenas are unique and beautifully rendered 3D masterpieces. Your car, of which there are 16 (once you unlock them all, of course), is also beautifully rendered. Destroy the debris to get extra goodies or just avoid them all together. The music is best described as 80s techno synth pop which is great if you like repetitive stuff. It didn’t take me long to mute the game because 5 minutes of that was like fingernails on a chalkboard.
The controls are your standard fare. Arrow keys, space, and tab to control a vehicle that is nearly impossible to control. Of course, you’re in space so that kinda is important… for realism or whatever. Thankfully, there is controller support which makes this arduous task somewhat bearable. It will take you several games to figure out how to control the car which is, you know, kind of important.
Since Hyperdrive Massacre hits you over the head with how 80s it is, it is only fair to compare it to similar games. Ever play Asteroids? Yea, that pretty much sums it up. Your car moves the same way as the spaceship. The debris flies the same way. The only thing, besides the obvious (graphics and mass amount of weapons), that sets it apart is the local multiplayer aspect. That’s cool – if you have friends. And if you do, you may not have them once you’re through. There is no gray area with this game. You’re either going to be good at it or you’ll be a sucking chest wound and die just as fast.
A more appropriate title for Hyperdrive Massacre would have been “Spray and Pray” since the play mechanics take away your ability to use any real strategy. If you want a game that’s challenging without having to think much while playing, then here’s your dream game. It also makes a decent party game, just as long as you keep in mind it’s annoyingly difficult from the start. Aside from that, you’ll only really appreciate it’s unique ‘charms’ if you have a sadistic personality.