We don’t see enough local multiplayer games these days in my opinion. When I sit down with friends or my kids and play some games together it’s pure bliss. There is something great about sitting down in a room, laughing your head off and having some friendly competition. My boys especially love sitting down with their dad and trying to beat him. Just so you know, that’s never going to happen, not soon anyway. We love playing games that encourage competition or co-operation like Towerfall, Mario Kart, Overcooked and Mario Party.
These games are however on the decline. The rise of internet multiplayer and the ever-growing suite of communication options available means that local multiplayer games are few and far between. Don’t get me wrong, I play a lot of online multiplayer with my friends, colleagues and even my children. I just don’t enjoy them as much as when you are face to face, can throw banter about and even get one of your kids in a headlock.
Hyper Jam boasts online and local multiplayer and kind of looks like something I would play with friends or my offspring. It’s an arena brawler that has a few unique traits and fast, fluid gameplay. As I started the game I must admit I did expect a bit more from the modes on offer. You can either play local or online and that’s about it. You can play locally with friends, or if you have none you can substitute them for bots and play against different levels of AI.
The actual gameplay is a formula that most people will have played before, kill everyone in the arena and be the last person standing. You have an attack button, a dash button, a parry button and can charge your attacks. You move with your left stick, aim with your right and have to avoid hazards on each of the stages on offer. Placed in the arena at random locations are various weapons for you to use on your opponents, these are the key difference between winning and losing.
When you pick up a weapon it has a limited number of uses, indicated by segments under your health bar. After these uses are expunged you drop the weapon and resort to using your fists again. Who doesn’t enjoy defeating your children and friends in the age-old sport of pugilism? You can throw the weapon at any time which does quite a bit of damage and can be used tactically at the end of the weapon’s lifespan. Some of the armaments have alternate actions, like the rocket launcher. If you charge it the rockets will home in on enemies and follow them around corners.
The game, with all its familiar traits, does have a few unique qualities up its sleeve. Firstly between rounds, you are required to select perks of all varieties. These range from health upgrades to damage upgrades and include a plethora of abilities such as freezing, burning and cooldown reductions. These perks can also be upgraded if you pick the same one and stick them on top of each other. One thing I did like was the fact that the person in last place picks first. It does keep the games quite close and competitive.
The games play out with each round awarding points to players depending on what they achieved. Points are awarded for kills, damage and round survival. When a player gets to the required points to win they just have to survive the next round to take the victory. Another quirk of Hyper Jam is that after you die in any round you get to fire a laser back into the field to influence the action. You can kill players from the sidelines and hopefully get rid of the leading players. These few unique systems do give Hyper Jam a unique feeling, even though the core gameplay has been seen before.
The game boasts multiple characters but unfortunately, they don’t seem to act any different from each other and are just merely cosmetically different. There are a few stages which do look different and feel different but they don’t add too much to the overall gameplay. I had fun playing the title but it’s not something I can play for hours on end or by myself for very long. Its set of modes is too light and the real fun comes from playing with friends. I can’t see myself, or anyone for that matter sinking in 10-hour sessions. It’s a quick dip title to play with other people and that’s OK.
Hyper Jam does have a certain style to it, it’s neon, funky and has a decent soundtrack to boot. Graphically it’s pleasant enough, the characters and stages are bright and vibrant. The weapons and effects are decent with pulsating explosions and all the chaos is well rendered. The soundtrack is very good, it has a killer synth-wave soundtrack that was probably my favourite thing in the game. It was crunchy, loud and a pleasure to listen to.
Performance-wise I had no issues apart from the long matchmaking times. I was queueing for well over 3 minutes at times. This will put a lot of people off I’m sure but hopefully can be fixed with a future patch. Otherwise, the performance was crisp, fast and fluid. I noticed no graphical issues, crashes or had any performance issues at all.
I had fun killing my boys and fighting people online, the action is fluid, fast and chaotic. My issue really is the lack of options and modes available. It’s a party title and maybe should have more modes to play. I can not sit there and play for longer than 30 minutes unless I have some friends to play against. It’s not a game to settle into, lose yourself and sink hours into at a time. It’s a game for a living room full of friends or to play in small sessions online. The perk system is nice and does lead to close, manic and very tense matches. If your in the market for a local arena brawler that does offer something different, Hyper Jam will keep you entertained. If you are looking for a deep, all-encompassing game to eat away your free time, look elsewhere.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*