Hyper Jam is the newest top down arena brawler from Bit Dragon. It pits you against bots, friends or random players online. The all out brawl continues until there is one last man (or woman) standing. The game can be played with two, three or four people (or bots) and features several different weapons, special attacks and a dodge, plus a perk system to keep game play interesting. It makes for a fun time with friends while enjoying a game night or hours spent facing off against friends and random players online. Hyper Jam is available starting February 12, 2019 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Steam is having a sale up until February 19th making it only $11.69! Xbox One and PS4 have the game available starting at $14.99.
Hyper Jam features a neon retro ’80s theme throughout the game. The main menu is simple and clean, which is a relief from several other games who try and squeeze everything on the front screen. The maps are beautifully done, showcasing great detail in the surrounding area while not being over the top. Each map has it’s own personality and style, but still fits the overall theme. My favorite visual would have to be the hotel deck; nothing like a room with a view while trying to take out three enemies. The four playable characters; Yuki, Ghost, Max, and Vance each have their own unique image that isn’t lost during game play. As you level up in game by playing in different matches, you unlock special skins and taunts that can be used to customize your character. Some skins are only have slight variations while others are over the top different. What would be nice though, is a way to access and see the skins we have currently unlocked.
Similar to other arena brawlers, the mechanics for Hyper Jam are fairly simple. You first start by picking from the four different characters. Which ever one you pick does not have a barring on the rest of the match though. It would be interesting to see some differentiation in the future, such as Yuki having extra damage using katanas in battle or Max having extra damage or skill with heavy ranged weapons. Once the match starts, you move around using the left joystick and aim with the right, attack using the RT button and pick up weapons using A. To move quickly around the map you can use the LT button to dash. This has a small cool down but works well to get up into an enemies face or quickly get out of the way of an incoming attack. While holding a weapon the player can hold down the RT button for a few seconds to release a special attack which is different for each weapon. In a last ditch attempt to damage a retreating enemy, hit the RB button to through the weapon you are currently holding at them. These weapons will appear randomly on the map, so getting the right one for you is all about luck.
The game is simple to learn but takes some time to really master. The round plays until there is one last man standing. Game play doesn’t end once you die though, instead you get control of a giant laser beam that rains down from the sky. It has a pretty significant cool down, but catch an unaware enemy and it really packs a punch. There are other ways to kill your enemies other than weapon damage. Each map has some special features that make game play fun, fast paced, and ever changing. The subway map has two fast moving trains passing by waiting for the moment you knock your enemy in their path. Other maps include floors that open up and drop you to your death! Depending on which map you are in, it will open up a whole new way to take out your enemies. After the time runs out in the match, sudden death begins! A large red circle, that I can only think are lasers, begins to force everyone still alive to the center of the map or take damage from standing in the unsafe zone.
The biggest mechanic, and honestly one that I have a love and hate relationship with, is the perk system. At the end of a round, points are tallied and the four players are ranked. Four perks appear on the screen ranging from buffs to damage, speed, attack speed, defense, and more. The lowest ranked player gets to pick first and continues up the chain. The top player gets the last pick leaving them with whatever is left over. The perks are great to help mix up game play. However it seems in the first few rounds those with the lowest scores have a bit of an advantage. It almost makes it worthwhile to finish lower to gain a better perk. The first player to reach 1500 points enters the last man standing mode. This means that to win the game overall, they must be the last man standing during the next round. It is at this time all heavy fire power should be directed at them. Multiple players can reach this level making the last few rounds of a match pretty intense. The final player standing wins overall which means anyone slacking in the beginning can really turn things around.
Aside from a very heavy retro ’80s theme, Hyper Jam does not have a strong narrative, or any at all honestly. This does take a bit of a toll on game play, as match after match can get pretty repetitive. The game is brand new and Bit Dragon still has time to really blow us out of the water with additional updates that could include more narrative. A few things I would be interested in seeing is a background on the different playable characters, additional playable characters added into the game, and some history on the different maps we are playing in. The game itself does not need a full blown story mode or backstory, but it would be nice to have additional details to really flush out the franchise. Other game play modes could really open up a deeper narrative story, but we can only hope.
Hyper Jam really is a fresh face after what seemed like years of battle royale games coming out. While fun in their own right, how many do we really need? The perk system alone really helps separate Hyper Jam from similar games while not losing its’ identity as a brawler. The mechanics are simple enough for everyone to learn but still lend themselves some challenge to keep players on their toes. My favorite feature though has to be the different maps. They each have their own little secrets behind them, especially ones that deal surprise damage. The cross play function will even allow you to hang out with friends from different gaming platforms. Bit Dragon did a fantastic job bringing this game to life and I am really interested in seeing what else they have in store for it. Have you gotten a chance to play? Share your feelings in the comments below or on twitter!
Images courtesy of Bit Dragon.
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