Back in the day (the 80s), horizontally-scrolling 2D shooters like Paradroid and Uridium were all the rage in arcade cabinets. Developers Huey Games are trying to bring back some of that nostalgic feeling after their successful Kickstarter campaign with their new game, Hyper Sentinel. But can this arcade classic game style work in 2018?
For gamers who have played classic games like the aforementioned Paradroid and Uridium, as well as others like Cybernoid, they will immediately see the influence those games had on Hyper Sentinel’s gameplay and style. Interestingly, the Studio’s CEO, Rob Hewson, is the son of Andrew Hewson, the founder of Hewson Consultants back in the mid-80s and the one responsible for bringing out those classic games. They were mercilessly tough, hectic shooters and arcade cabinet classics.
But enough about the history lesson, let’s take a closer look now at Hyper Sentinel. Right off the bat, this game takes you back to the 80s from its brightly coloured retro graphics (has the option for CRT, Spectrum or C64 filters) and sound design. The main aim of each level is to fly back and forth shooting and taking out ground targets on a massive enemy Dreadnought while smaller enemy ships fly in formations trying to take you out. After taking out all the ground targets, you will then encounter a Guardian (boss fight).
Unfortunately, there isn’t much else to the game. You spend your time zipping back and forth across the screen taking out targets and flying away to regenerate your health when things get tough. You earn power-ups during the levels that provide you with score multipliers and weapon upgrades, like massive laser turrets and a devastating bomb that wipes out most enemies on-screen. While the main gameplay is fun, it does start to get very repetitive quickly. There’s not a lot of difference between the levels apart from the Guardian fights, which do provide some variety as each one is different and you have to approach them in different ways. There’s a cool slow motion effect as the camera zooms in on your craft just as you’re on your last bit of health, and if you time it right, you can quickly move your ship out of the way to avoid certain death. Each level looks very much the same, with just a change of colour and differently shaped Dreadnoughts being the only things to set different levels apart. While this might have been understandable back in the 80s due to the technology available back then, it would have been nice to see Hyper Sentinel evolve and provide more variety in the level design.
There are 3 game modes: arcade, survival and boss fights (which is just going through the main level again but with the Guardian present from the start), but they do little to mix up the gameplay.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a bad game, I enjoyed my time with Hyper Sentinel, but there’s not a lot of depth to keep me going back to it. Aside from leaderboards, there are no real reasons to go back to this game after completing the 12 stages. The gameplay itself feels smooth and has simple but effective controls, and things get fast and frantic as you try to take out enemy turrets while dodging incoming fire and picking collecting power-ups.
Developer: Huey Games
Publisher: Four5Six Pixel
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: 11th May 2018