Developer: Team6 Game Studios
Publisher: Kiss Ltd
Hyper Fighters has a truly excellent name. Hyper Fighters. It sets you up for fun, gratuitous explosions and the tastiest of crunchy overdriven riffs; harking back to the good old days of uncomplicated thrills.
It's also the kind of name that could easily sucker unwary punters into buying a shonky port of a terrible Wii rail shooter. "Well, it's called Hyper Fighters," they'll say. "How bad can it be?"
Good question, that. Luckily I've spent hours finding out exactly how bad it is, so you'll never have to go anywhere near this abysmal danger zone.
As a rail shooter following in the proud traditions of Starwing and AfterBurner, Hyper Fighters throws you into a totally rad plane (that is the correct 90s terminology) and arrays you against massed legions of enemy aircraft, alongside some massive bosses to take down. It sounds fantastic, literally, because the old-school action is accompanied by a shred-heavy soundtrack that deserves our unconditional praise. Unfortunately this is where the similarity to those two classic franchises end.
Instead of tightly-designed encounters that constantly switch up the pace, Hyper Fighters is a primitive grinding monotony of identical foes that attack in brainless formations throughout the campaign. It's dull, profoundly dull, the cloying kind of brain-melting paint-drying dishwater dullness that seeps deep into your subconcsious. There'd be no challenge whatsoever were it not for awful camerawork that makes your plane take up far too much of the screen, thus obscuring incoming projectiles, and enemies that attack from behind and explode instantly on contact regardless of their size. What just hit you? Who knows! Bosses and homing missiles will also gleefully shoot you from offscreen, which is nice.
Being boring is already the worst sin a rail shooter can commit (well... Crimson Dragon notwithstanding), but Hyper Fighters is also plain awful. Beyond the camera and confusing action, numerous terrible design decisions conspire to drag it down, not limited to your only weapon quickly overheating, a lack of any basic evasive manoeuvres, an unhelpful reticle that expands when it hovers over enemy targets and bosses that run out of health before you can individually destroy their turrets. The hopeless pacing is also worth another mention, often leaving you with nothing to shoot for long periods, then filling the screen with straight lines of recycled enemy fighters. Hyper Fighters does the bare minimum and does it badly, with the exception of a couple of vaguely entertaining boss battles.
Oh, and there's no controller support, leaving the arrow keys as your sole un-rebindable control option. This serves to undermine Hyper Fighters' only interesting mechanic -- the ability to buy rockets at the expense of your high score -- since you'll have to press 'B' to restock them. Put your hands on the arrow keys and mouse. Now try to press 'B'. Head, meet desk.
Gosh, that soundtrack is great, though. Jugga-jugga-jugga-dadadada-DOW-DOWWWW...
...it's practically the only thing that will keep you sane, since Hyper Fighters refuses to stimulate any of the other senses. It's devoid of artistic merit, a horrendous eternity of insipid, murky fog with a laughable draw distance, and actually looks worse than you'd expect from a straight port of a 2011 Wii game. A bare minimum of effort was put into the original, and even less has been put into its PC debut. Locked to a single resolution and lacking even the tiniest hint of any extra remastering, this is easily the most graphically primitive effort we've seen from a professional studio in recent years, marred by jaggy simplistic models and grainy fuzzy texture work. For the record, its uninspired art direction and technical prowess was embarrassing even on the Wii. Horrendous sound design fares little better, offering up repetitive effects and hilariously poor voice acting that manages to botch about ten words in all.
This is a rail shooter. I don't care whether it has all the bells and whistles of modern titles. So long as a game is fun, 4K or ASCII makes no odds to us. But when a game is this terrible, it could at least give us something passable to look at. Frankly, Hyper Fighters is best enjoyed with your eyes closed... with your headphones on full blast... on the pause menu.
- Raunchy soundtrack
- A couple of intense boss battles
- Everything else
The Short Version: Hyper Fighters is just about recognisable as an arcade rail shooter, so long as you're badly concussed. If you missed the Wii original back in 2011, be sure to miss its PC port too.