eastasiasoft has been on a bit of a spree lately. The publisher has been putting out so many scrolling shoot-’em-ups (shmups) that it’s hard to keep track. The likes of Z-WarpWings of BluestarSpacewing War and Rick Henderson all have their own unique advantages. But as this Hyper-5 review will attest, Hyper Productions’ latest tries to fit into a groove altogether more unique.

Goichi Suda’s Sine Mora was a landmark title for the genre. It refreshed ‘bullet hell’ by adding a lavish layer of spectacle to what was already familiar gameplay. Before we dive into this Hyper-5 review true, we should state that it does not achieve the same level of grandeur. It does however, give it a damn good try.

Hyper-5 screenshot

Hyper-5 uses fully polygonal environments and units and create a deep, rich battlefield. It’s not without issue, but it is colourful and quite attractive. Varied enemies ships, stomping mechs and towering turrets. Huge boss fights; par for the course. Perhaps the best use of this is a visibly upgraded player ship. New weapons, defensive abilities and more will be shown on your craft immediately. And given the huge wealth of options, you might finish the game with a vastly different looking ship to anyone else.

The upgrades are both a blessing and a curse. There’s a figurative tonne of weapons, ship and accessory upgrades. So much so, that it’s often hard to tell exactly how such a change would benefit you. This is also true of the in-game power-ups. Certain units – or squadrons thereof – will drop power-ups upon defeat. However, it’s never really explained what these power-ups do. When a glowing red or yellow cube appears but doesn’t really seem to do anything, you’ve got to wonder if it was worth acquiring. The green one does refill your health, though. So do get that.

Hyper-5 screenshot

Back to the ship upgrades for a moment, they can all be purchased using UP acquired in-game from the Armoury between levels. Or on a retry, which you will probably do a lot. They rapidly increase in cost, but not so much as to prevent you from trying. Indeed, quite the opposite. Hyper-5 seems to have been designed with encouraging progression in mind. You’ll frequently unlock new stuff and gain more UP even upon failure, allowing you to re-enter the fray with a new armament or upgraded health. At first it seems over complicated, but once you adapt it’s a wholly encouraging system.

So as you can probably tell from this Hyper-5 review thus far, variety is the order of the day. Enemies, environments, upgrades. There’s plenty of new stuff around every turn. The seemingly slower pace of the gameplay belies a depth not often seen in shmups, and earns Hyper-5 an easy recommendation for fans of the genre. It may never reach the level of notoriety of R-Type or even Ikaruga, but Hyper-5 will satisfy players who do learn of its existence.

Categories: Games