In this age of the remaster, we as an industry get to enjoy the best old games as if they were new. Sometimes, a remaster can be bigger than a single game and it can become representative of the ideas of an entire genre. Hyper Sentinel is one such game: a modern reimagining of the arcade shoot ‘em up inspired by the games of old.
You control a small space ship and you have to destroy enemy targets, as in any other shoot ‘em up. The controls are tight and responsive, an essential requirement for a game like this where you need to dodge and react to a multitude of projectiles. To assist in this, you can become temporarily invincible if you change direction - your little ship will perform a flip and during the animation you can’t be hit by projectiles. You can also boost to make a quick escape, though this can be tricky to master as I would boost into projectiles more often than not.
The levels I saw at Rezzed reminded me of the Trench Run from Star Wars, where you have to fly around a much larger ship or station destroying the weak points. These weak points are protected by ships and mounted guns, all of which will take a few hits to take down. Asteroids also rain from the edges, which break apart when you hit them. These are both a great alternative enemy type and a fun callback to one of the most popular games from the era that inspired Hyper Sentinel.
In addition to all the enemies, there is a wide range of pick-ups that give you a strong buff for a short period. Included are standard fire rate increases or double and triple fire, as well as more unusual power-ups like an entirely physics based swinging ball that destroys everything it hits. The variety adds a lot to the gameplay, as you can have multiple power-ups active at once and there are enough to mean you’ll have different experiences in the same levels. There are also health and shield pick-ups which float from bottom to top, so when on low health you’re always edging towards the bottom of the screen to pick these up as fast as possible.
The gameplay isn’t the only aspect of Hyper Sentinel which is inspired by retro games: the game features gameplay filters, allowing you to emulate CRT monitors and even a Commodore 64. These filters redraw the game with the colour palettes that those systems were capable of. I played with these on the Nintendo Switch version of the game, and it was a novelty to have something that looked exactly how a C64 game would do on a portable device.
Hyper Sentinel is releasing in May 2018 on Steam, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android and iOS.