HYPER GAUNTLET

By Nathan Grayson on September 25th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

Hyper Gauntlet is speed.

Hyper Gauntlet is control.

Hyper Gauntlet is elegance.

Hyper Gauntlet is whirrrrrrrsplattttoooooooofpressspacetoretry.

Press space to never stop retrying.

The most direct inspiration I can find for Hyper Gauntlet is Terry Cavanagh’s equally masterful Super Hexagon, but Hyper Gauntlet expresses the sheer feeling of perfect flow and movement so much better. In short, you’re catapulted in first-person at increasingly blinding speeds with only the ability to dodge up, down, left, or right in a 3×3 grid formation keeping you from painting diabolically arranged blocks in a grim red. Along the way, there are occasional power-ups – for instance the ability to briefly slow down time and an error-free auto-pilot.

You can see blocks hurtling toward you off in the distance – careening at your face like evil Tetris structures – and you have a split-second, a hair’s breadth, a million years, a millisecond to react. The screen wobbles just so as you pass, and a buffeting woosh of wind accompanies it. As though you grazed the face of your own death, as though every second you keep on living should’ve been your last. It’s an exhilarating feeling. An intoxicating one. And it happens over and over and over. Rhythmically.

Hyper Gauntlet is not quite as ruthless as Hexagon. At least, not when you’re first getting up to speed. Early “levels” (they’re all randomly generated, but stay consistent in terms of difficulty on each playthrough) offer rather generous gaps, and a single mistake won’t bring your run to a screeching halt. You have a few “lives” to work with, but don’t take them for granted. They are easily snuffed, like a quiet flame in a gale force wind.

Hyper Gauntlet allows you, if only briefly, to feel like a ducking, dodging dynamo even if you’re not typically amazing at these sorts of games. Challenge quickly ramps up, but not in a way that precludes learning and progress. The simple, easily differentiated visual language of the game helps a lot, too. The background’s stark whiteness means that various colors of blocks always stand out – even way off in the distance – from both the walls and each other.

It’s a nearly perfect realization of this sort of experience, though I do have some minor quibbles. Mainly, power-ups often serve to interrupt flow and disorient more than they help. Auto-pilot, especially, does a terrible job of indicating when it’s active and when it’s run out of juice, instead opting to abruptly wrest control away from you and then leave you on a collision course with certain doom seconds later.

But that’s really the worst of it. Hyper Gauntlet is otherwise quite often sublime, a near-seamless melding of simplicity, feeling, and mechanics. It’s the sort of thing you don’t stop playing until long after your day’s responsibilities have rotted or left you a series of very angry text messages. And then after that, it sits in the back of your skull, screaming to the forefront every time you blink, colorful squares rushing by behind your eyelids like midnight traffic. It’s that kind of game. I guess what I’m saying is you should probably play it or something.

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23 Comments »

  1. distantlurker says:

    Reminds me of the death star trench run in the old Star Wars wireframe arcade cabinet thingy.

    Needs more TIE fighters ^^

  2. Juan Carlo says:

    That looks genuinely awful. Gameplay consisting of nothing but pushing up, down, left, and right in a rapid paced, timed, manner just isn’t my cup of tea (as I learned from Bit.Trip.Runner).

  3. KDR_11k says:

    The music makes me nostalgic for the C64 and shmups where you could stack powerups to ludicrous degrees and annihilate the whole screen with one trigger pull.

  4. warcroft says:

    Damn it! I thought it was going to be a hyper version of the 80′s Gauntlet game.
    “Wizard needs food, badly.”

  5. DrScuttles says:

    At first I got all excited that someone had remade HydroZone (please someone do) only to be disappointed by how rigid Hyper Gauntlet felt. Giving it a minute without any weight of expectation and it’s possible to appreciate its differences though, like how it just gets right down to the meat of the game, and it’s combined speed and aesthetic is pleasingly satisfying.
    And good grief I am rubbish at this game.

  6. sinister agent says:

    Ooh, it’s Hydrozone! I never did manage to finish that bloody game. Linky: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zYdQAKvMUw

  7. jingies says:

    Isn’t this just the same as the tunnel speed run things in the Tie Fighter games, but constrained to a grid instead of with free flight?

  8. Gwilym says:

    For some reason the music was off when I first played, which gives the game a very bizarre feel and makes the audio sound like the start of Abla Eedio

  9. Nevard says:

    For some reason the music never seems to work

  10. Stardreamer says:

    Blue Wizard is about to die.

    …wait, wrong game. Now I has a sad. :(

  11. Shadowcat says:

    I felt like I’d get a headache if I watched that trailer again (in fact, I do believe it’s given me a slight one from the first viewing). I think the combination of the smooth forward movement with the painfully abrupt perpendicular movements was messing with my brain in a very unpleasant way.

  12. Waldkoenig says:

    Meh… sorry, I don’t see how this is better than super hexagon. The slow mo stuff seems tacked on and the music isn’t captivating in any way. But this is of course just subjective.

  13. soco says:

    With the lives and the score being static along the walls on the side it took away from the sense I was moving forward, and instead just seemed as if there were blocks flying at me.

    Maybe the feeling playing the game is different, but that trailer didn’t give me the sense of forward motion.

  14. internisus says:

    I feel it is an injustice to compare this to Super Hexagon. While Hyper Gauntlet is a cool game in its own right, it lacks the intricacy and mental development of SH’s gameplay by taking the form of one-off shapes rather than patterns. I do not see potential for gaining fluency in the game, and therefore any semblance of mastery is merely improved reaction time. Super Hexagon is so much more than that.

    • riverman says:

      on a side note, where in the heck is superhexagon two? or even some dlc would be nice.

      • internisus says:

        I’m not sure it’s even possible to go further! I think that the post-game black/white stage (which I like to call Hypest Hexagon) is the logical culmination of SH’s game design. On the other hand, I don’t have Terry Cavanagh’s brain, so perhaps my imagination is lacking.

  15. riverman says:

    “Hyper Gauntlet expresses the sheer feeling of perfect flow and movement so much better.”

    this is the wrongestestest thing I’ve read all day. have you done hyper hexagonest?