Reflex games can be pretty addicting. Giving a player a set of obstacles to pass with an immediate feeling of gratification only to slam defeat upon them in a way that makes them think, “I can totally do better than that,” is a specialty of such titles. Tempest, Flappy Bird, the list goes on.
Hyper Gauntlet – Legacy of Nozzlethruster III is a game of reflexes and focus from Udell Games. It can take awhile for the action to get rolling, but Hyper Gauntlet definitely delivers pulse-pounding techno-driven fun.
Built on the inspiration of arcade titles like Temple Run and Super Hexagon (cited on Udell Games’ website), Hyper Gauntlet smacks most reminiscent of Audiosurf combined with more obstacles.
Set in a first-person view, the player must navigate in two dimensions whilst the third hurtles ever onwards, bringing sets of blocks arrayed such that the player has to find the path through them. Hitting a block loses a life, and the run ends when the lives are used.
Hyper Gauntlet adds a couple twists. The first is a group of randomly-chosen powerups at the start of every “level,” or increase in speed. All are “good,” but should they be used unwisely the ramifications could indeed be punishing.
Obstacles are alternating patterns of red and blue blocks. Some power-ups make one color transparent, one controls the player perfectly for a time before wearing off, another gives an extra life. Early on some of these work well, but at higher speeds the jarring return to normalcy could cost the player a life and the valuable multiplier.
Scoring is based on how many consecutive patterns are bypassed successfully, with a multiplier reaching 81 times before resetting. It’s a nice way to keep the player moving, as simply getting far in the game isn’t as valuable as playing as perfectly as possible.
In addition to three strikes the player also has the recharging ability to slow time in order to make navigating a particularly difficult series of obstacles easier. It can only be used for a certain duration before it’s exhausted, but it quickly recharges. That downtime could prove fatal, making its management a key playing point when the going gets tough.
Unfortunately, the difficulty of Hyper Gauntlet is its biggest fault at the moment. Though loading Hyper Gauntlet for the first time prompts a warning that the game “will not go easy” on you, this proves to be an empty threat.
With no adjustable difficulty setting, the game takes quite awhile to get going. Clocking in quite a bit of time before the speed becomes challenging can get boring fast, and with no way to reach that point sooner via a ‘hard’ mode, starting a new run can be aggravating, knowing that a slog through boring bits is necessary.
But even that’s moderately tolerable. More than anything, Hyper Gauntlet is a game of focus, discipline, a steady hand, and a cool head. Letting the mind wander for an instant or two could find a critical red square representing a life headed for the great beyond.
A nifty high score system adds to the challenge, recording your own scores along with the other players’ in public view. Only a nickname and the score is displayed, much like the arcade cabinets of yore where players could leave their mark on history in the form of a set of initials next to a massive number.
Hyper Gauntlet is a simple game, apart from its full title. Aside from the plain red and blue squares hurtling past, there isn’t much to look at. The soundtrack makes up for it, shuffling through a series of techno and electronica titles to keep things from getting too repetitive.
Challenging and fun, Hyper Gauntlet suffers mostly from a slow build-up and a lack of any way to change it. Hopefully a difficulty modifier will become available, but as-is, the game is a good time-waster for a little bit. It will definitely get the adrenaline pumping and the competitive juices flowing, even if it’s just to beat your own score.