Review: Super HyperCube

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In the early days of commercial VR gaming, I have a feeling that there will be a lot of tech demos sold as games. As developers test the limits and learn what works and what doesn’t, plenty of game ideas will be unleashed to the masses hoping to recoup the cost spent on those lessons. However, there are also some shining VR gems that already have a perfectly defined limitation and capitalize on what works. Super HyperCube is one such game.

A no-nonsense arcade puzzle game, Super HyperCube allows players to rotate shapes made of cubes in full three-dimensional space in order to make the block clusters fit through holes in a wall that looms in the distance and creeps ever closer. Players must rotate the shape on either the X, Y, or Z axis while using the PSVR headset to look around the block to get an idea of the approaching hole’s dimensions. Almost immediately when the hole can be seen, the distinct shape can be discerned. Other times it feels like the shape doesn’t come into focus until it’s almost too late.

Whether a shape matches a hole or not, the block passes through the wall and a new hole in a distant wall appears. However, if the player can get the shape to match the hole before reaching the wall, it can be forced to quickly drop through. Additional cubes are also added to the shape as progress is made, while points are accumulated based on how many cubes make up the shape for each cleared wall. The speed at which each new wall must be cleared also increases with each successful fitting. A new stage is reached after 10 walls are successfully passed.

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Two different meters fill up as each shape is successfully passed. One meter allows for stopping time to get a better chance to figure out just how to rotate the shape to fit it through the encroaching hole. The other meter allows the shape to be smashed through a wall regardless of whether or not the shape is in the correct position. Both of these meters fill at a slow rate and should only be used when absolutely necessary.

From a visual perspective, Super HyperCube looks like a neon wireframe throwback to old vector graphics. Once a shape is successfully passed through the wall, a wash of warm color bombards the senses with a surprising intensity that is almost offputting at first but quickly becomes a satisfying jolt like a hit from a drug. The need to be bathed in the wash of color becomes an addictive reward.

I truly enjoy playing Super HyperCube, but I’m honestly terrible at it. This game is brutal in its efficiency for displaying the Game Over screen. If a shape doesn’t fit through the hole in the oncoming wall, cubes are deducted from the overall shape and then players only get one more chance to keep playing. Two strikes and the game is over–unless a minimum score of 1000 is reached, which I haven’t even come close to doing (my high score so far is 424).  For as brutal as the game is, it is quick to get right back into it.  And on the two or three great runs I’ve managed to put together, I constantly felt like I was a Zen master, managing to match the shapes with the walls at just the last second. Other times (more times than I care to admit), I tend to hit the wall even before finishing the first ten sections.

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I’m not sure if the frustration stems from not being able to puzzle through spatial relations in a short period of time, or if the game just feels harshly unfair with the limited amount of time a player gets by only being able to hit the wall twice before seeing Game Over. Granted, this is as pure an arcade game as you can get, and if VR was workable tech back in the heyday of coin-operated arcades, Super HyperCube‘s creators would have made a fortune in quarters.

Easy to learn but difficult to master, Super HyperCube is a rainbow drug trip awash with warm, glowing colors and satisfying gameplay. Simple yet effective VR implementation is used to create a fun challenge of having the manipulated shape sit immediately in front of your face while needing to tilt your head, or more likely your entire body, in order to see what the shape of the hole in the wall is. Even though the game can be harsh with the limited amount of lives, the quick nature of getting right back into a new run makes for a fairly balanced experience.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Incredibly intense VR visuals
+ Quick response gameplay
+ Easy to learn, hard to master

Cons:
– Harsh limit of lives each playthrough

Game Info:
Platform: PlayStation VR for PlayStation 4
Publisher: Polytron
Developer: kokoromi
Release Date: 10/13/2016
Genre: Arcade/Puzzle
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1

Source: Review code provided by publisher

Buy From: PlayStation Store for $29.99

About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.