Atari did, of course, plan to release its own blasters for the genre's numerous fans, but didn't quite get around to it while churning out such memorable gems as Checkered Flag and Kasumi Ninja. Atari's loss was ultimately Songbird's game, as Carl Forhan acquired rights to Hyperforce from its third-party developer after the Jaguar market collapsed, and gave it a belated release in 1999.
Platform fanatics will probably enjoy Hyperforce's varied challenges and will be pleased to discover that it offers exactly what they will expect in a typical '90s blaster. Hyperforce is not, however, a title that either pushes the Jaguar's hardware -- or players' abilities -- to the ultimate limit, and is consequently not a game for all tastes.
Platformers are the comfort-food of video gaming: you know what you're going to get, so throw away that manual, plug in a joypad, and just shoot everything in sight. Fortunately, Hyperforce doesn't mess around with that cherished formula, with results that are enjoyable -- if just a bit too predictable.
Plot really doesn't matter beyond the fact that you're shooting for profit, not revenge, and that any money collected during gameplay can be used to purchase powerups and bonuses during gaming intervals. Weapons powerups are useful, but I found them to be only minimally differentiated, and the most expensive gun isn't necessarily the most useful item to have on hand. Weapons generally last only for the span of each of the gamer's initial three lives, and must all be repurchased when a new life is started.
I noted only a few minor bugs and graphical glitches during my own playtesting sessions, and these generally don't effect gameplay to any significant degree, but can be annoying. On "Rocket 3," for instance, the upper right corner of the top level contains a hidden area that contains neither prizes nor exit and is therefore not much of a bonus.
Controls are adequate, but the game's save feature is rather awkward and prone to user error. Game restoration functions are also fairly buggy and may cause the game to crash.
If Hyperforce looks like Duke Nukem or any of the countless imitations of that popular mid-'90s blaster, it's probably not much of a coincidence. You've seen it all before, and although gaming environments are rendered quite well here (and better than in dozens of other Jaguar games), Hyperforce doesn't win any prizes for graphic ingenuity.
Game characters are bright and colourful, but perhaps a little too large for the playing field. Enemies are also plotted well, but they all have a fairly generic look about them that is common to this type of game.
Hyperforce does boast a few nice touches that helps this game stand out from the gaming pack. I was impressed with some of the game's traps, and liked the way in which some bonuses were displayed to act as a level guide or map.
In-game music and sound effects are, like most elements of this game, pleasant but otherwise unremarkable. The gaming soundtrack is complementary to the game's generic futuristic look, but ultimately repetitive and not particularly evocative of any particular mood or theme. I've heard much better on the Jaguar, and like to compare standard efforts like this one to efforts in which music is an integral part of gameplay, such as in Tempest 2000 or the underappreciated Wolfenstein 3D, which boasts soundtracks that are wonderfully spooky and varied. Sound in Hyperforce isn't bad, but it's not up to Raiden or Blue Lightning blaster standards, either.
Hyperforce doesn't bring very many new things to modern console gaming and, with its somewhat dated side-scrolling blaster action and limited graphic environments, is definitely showing its age. That being said, Hyperforce is a polished and professional effort that will provide hours of entertainment for most Jaguar gamers.