This was the first year I was lucky enough to participate in an event called IndieXmas. IndieXmas is an event that brings attention to indie game developers and all of their hard work, though it really is a whole lot more than that. Indie Gamer Chick hosts the event on her Twitter Account.
She doesn’t put many restraints on the number of games you can request, so I ended up with 5 different indie titles by the end of IndieXmas! I have to tell you, I wasn’t exactly a good boy all year and I’m not sure I really deserve them.
Now that the event is over, and I’ve played through the majority of all 5 games, I wanted to share my thoughts. I’ve written a condensed version of one of my typical reviews for each title and first up is Hyper Sentinel from Huey Games.
An Ode to 1986
The moment I started playing Hyper Sentinel, I started having flashbacks of playing Uridium on my Commodore 64. (Is he really that old!?) For anyone that’s too young to have had the chance to play Uridium, (I’m guessing that’s all of you) that’s probably already telling you what I think about this neo-retro shoot-em-up.
Hyper Sentinel is a horizontally scrolling, top-down shooter played across 12 levels. The game has three game modes. There’s your standard Arcade and Survival modes. There’s also a Boss mode, where you find yourself face to face with the boss immediately. There are also achievements to earn on every level, if you’re looking for some extra challenge while you’re climbing the Leaderboards.
But How Does it Handle?
The controls in Hyper Sentinel are as simple as they come. That’s not say that they’re bad in any way. In fact, the controls are tight, and precise. You’re able to pilot your ship in any of 8 directions and you’ve only got two buttons to worry about. One to shoot and the other is a regenerating boost to help get you out of tight spots.(Though you can not boost and shoot at the same time.) That’s it! And you’ll be thankful, because the assault you’re under gets pretty intense.
You maneuver your ship back and forth above floating monstrosities know as Super-Dreadnaughts. Your initial aim is to take out all of the ground targets attached to the Dreadnaught as well as any flying enemies. You attempt to do this all while keeping that scoring multiplyer up. (Because, score chasing Leaderboards!)
Luckily, you’re able grab weapon upgrades that grant you temporary (and they are very short lived) special weapons that go a long way towards helping you meet your goal. My favorite of the weapon pick-ups are the Smart Bombs. I found it best to save them for when I found myself particularly overwhelmed.
A Boss shows up just as you manage to finish off the last of your enemies. The Boss fights in Hyper Sentinel force you to change up your tactics in order to defeat them. You go from making long strafing runs along the entire length of the Dreadnaught to taking a more calculated approach. It’s a small change that forces you to play differently and I really liked it.
Sights and Sounds
Graphically, Hyper Sentinel is an assault on the senses. And I mean that in a good way. Colors pop. Weapons and lasers going off everywhere, thanks to the countless enemies swarming you. Everything is done in an 8-bit style and it all appears to run at a buttery smooth 60FPS.
The retro, chip-tune music found in Hyper Sentinel is another aspect of the game that nails that Uridium feel. There’s not much to say, it is in perfect alignment with what this game is trying to honor. The rest of the audio (weapons, explosions, etc.) matches the music and fits perfectly.
So, is Hyper Sentinel for everyone? Probably not. It’s paying respect to a game that’s nearly 40 years old at this point. That being said, Hyper Sentinel absolutely nails it’s target. If you’re a gamer who has fond memories of playing Uridium on your C64 or ZX Spectrum, then grabbing this one is a no-brainer. If you’re of a younger generation, you’d be remiss if you dismissed this SHMUP simply because of it’s lack of modern game mechanics. My only wish is there were multiplayer options included in the game. The insanity that would bring will have to remain in my dreams for now. Hyper Sentinel is currently available on the Switch eShop for 12.99 USD.
8/10 Good Game!
- Classic, Early 8-Bit era SHMUP action
- Tight Controls
- Smooth Gameplay
- Perfect homage to Uridium
- May only appeal to a narrow audience
- No Multiplayer