Hyper-5 is the latest title from developers East Asia Soft. At first, this looks like your typical side-scrolling horizontal shooter title, but you soon realise that the ships and the backgrounds look incredibly realistic. Normally the art style looks more cartoony and I can’t think of another title like this with water that looked just like I was actually flying over the real thing.
As soon as you start the game, you get the choice of the style that you want to play. Precision is the mode to select if you are a Shmup expert. There is fast movement and no inertia, plus the damage is increased for both the player and the enemy ships. The projectiles are faster, and you get fewer upgrade points to use to power up the Hyper-5 ship. If you aren’t an expert at shooter games like this, Progression may be the better mode to select. This option is described as “better for novice shoot-em-up gamers”. You will focus on upgrades to progress allowing you to level up faster. The movement is smooth with moderate speed and your attacks will be stronger, but so will the enemies. Once you select the play style, you go to the armoury to customise your weapons and ship settings. When you are done fixing up the ship, you are thrown into the game.
The ship you are piloting, Hyper-5, is an advanced deep space scout ship that has both strong defensive and offensive abilities — the game called it offsensive, but I think this is just a spelling mistake. It is the year AD 2734, and you have detected an unidentified distress beacon coming from Planet 4GDT. You head there to see if you can assist the people who are in trouble. The scenery on this planet is beautiful, as it has great water effects, and realistic-looking cliffs and mountains, which is nice because you will be seeing that same stage a lot. Each stage has multiple missions for you to try to complete to earn upgrade points to improve the ship and new weapons to unlock. When you get a game over, a summary screen is presented that shows how many of the tasks you were able to unlock or how close you are to getting it. These missions include objectives like "Destroy a total of 20 L3 - Dart ships". You can jump right back in and try again, or you can head to the armoury to equip different weapons and change other settings. Once done, there is the option to continue that same stage, play the Arcade Mode, or view the entries in the gallery that show off models for the different enemies and the Hyper-5 plane.
With the new weapons and upgrades, you are sure to be more successful when you challenge the level again. Having stronger weapons or more health definitely helps, but I found that the stage was still tough at times. Enemies that look like robots from the Transformer shows and movies will attack you, along with stationary guns that are continuously firing in your direction. At points, you get to select which route you would like to follow. At odd times, the game didn’t realise which direction I wanted to go in so it didn’t open up the route for me, causing my ship to slam into the cliffs. That was the other tricky part with having realistic-looking visuals, sometimes it was hard to distinguish which of the background stuff I could fly over and which were objects that I had to fly around to avoid. Though, it was neat having enemy ships flying in from the background and the foreground to attack me on the middle plane.
Playing the same level over and over again just to level up the ship got a bit tiresome at times. It felt like I was never getting anywhere; it kind of reminded me of a rogue-like style game where you get to level up a bit then you have to keep trying again and again until you are strong enough to progress and defeat the boss. The music is catchy and up-tempo, but once you have played the same stage multiple times it does get pretty repetitive which is expected.
Once you're tired of the Main Mode — Story Mode I guess you could call it — there is an Arcade mode that you can try to play. Instead of spending upgrade tokens to improve your ship, you collect power-ups that are dropped by defeated enemies. Some give you boosts for your guns, others improve your missiles, and then some level up the little outrider ship/orb that circles around your craft to help protect it and attack enemies. I preferred this mode as I found it was less repetitive than the others and it felt more like a traditional shmup.
Hyper-5 is an entertaining time if you enjoy the Shmup genre. It can get monotonous at times, but if you enjoy games where you can slowly build up your character to take out the boss this may be a title that you will enjoy. The visuals look nice and are an interesting change from the usual design you see in other titles like this.
Hyper-5 (Reviewed on Xbox Series S)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
Hyper-5 is an entertaining game for fans of horizontal Shmups with a realistic look for the ship and environments. Can get repetitive at times, but the interesting enemy designs like the ones that look like Transformers are a lot of fun to battle.