Review – Hover: Revolt of Gamers
For those who don’t already know, I’m one of those self-entitled “Sega widowers,” those who still mourn the death of the fantastic Dreamcast, still play it to this day, and still foolishly hope for Sega to, someday, make a comeback on the console market. One of my favorite games back in the Dreamcast days was Jet Set Radio, a very unique mix between open-world gameplay, roller skating, cel-shaded visuals, and graffiti. The game still looks and plays superbly to this day, and it’s considered one of the greatest and most original titles of the Dreamcast’s already magnificent library. Besides its Xbox sequel, Jet Set Radio Future, we haven’t seen a new game like it for the past 15 years.
Hover: Revolt of Gamers is a former Kickstarter project that promised to be like a spiritual successor of sorts to the Jet Set Radio games.
If the developers’ intention was to make a game that looked and sounded just like the Dreamcast classic, then good freaking job. Hover retains the classic JSR vibe with its colorful cel-shaded visuals (not as charming as the original, but a good effort nevertheless) and the same emphasis on a ton of very bright colors onscreen. There are a few original visual ideas in it, though: Hover‘s world is a much more futuristic one. Think of it as a mixture between JSR‘s Tokyo-To and Attack of the Clones‘ lowest levels of Coruscant, with a truckload of neon colors added to it.
The same level of quality can be seen in the sound department, as Hover‘s soundtrack is very similar to JSR‘s excellent soundtrack, with some great instrumental hip-hop tunes included. A few tunes were even composed by Hideki Naganuma, the original composer of Jet Set Radio. While the soundtrack is fantastic, one big issue in the sound department, in my opinion, is the complete lack of voices. It might sound like a weird complaint, but given the immense amount of text present in the game, it would have been great to have dialogue as well, or even just a few voice effects, to make the sound effect department look less cheap.
Hover‘s gameplay is a mix between not only Jet Set Radio, but also Mirror’s Edge, as not only do you run around with a futuristic pseudo-rollerblade of sorts, but you can also perform parkour tricks in order to climb walls and ledges. Hover’s gameplay is very interesting and quite fun to fool around with, but it features a handful of problems. For starters, its controls and collision detection are quite wonky: you’ll constantly miss a grindable rail due to collision glitches or the game’s stubborn refusal to actually do what you’ve been pressing over the last seconds. Those glitches were frequent enough to a point they made me rage-quit a few times. When it does decide to work, Hover‘s gameplay is tons of fun, though.
The gameplay does indeed affect the overall fun factor in Hover. Grinding and “parkouring” up and down through the open world scenario is very flawed, but it’s still quite enjoyable given the level of freedom the game provides, to the point you’ll pretty much ignore the fact that there is a story campaign. But Hover‘s story is so dull and uninteresting that you’re probably not going to bother tackling it that much. Nor the (broken) sidequests. Or the fact the game can act as a MMORPG of sorts, with tons of online players onscreen, if you wish. Hover‘s main source of fun is its open world exploration, which will pretty much make you ignore the rest of what it offers. Chances are you’ll most likely just go out to explore the city until the clunky controls make you want to play another game.
If you are a fan of Jet Set Radio, then you’re probably going to enjoy Hover a little bit. Just don’t expect for it to become the long-awaited (spiritual) sequel you’ve been asking for ever since Jet Set Radio Future. It retains some of the best aspects of the older titles, as well as some parkour elements a-la Mirror’s Edge and some original concepts, but its gameplay and story aren’t engaging enough for anyone to keep playing it for a long time. If you’re not a fan of either of the franchises mentioned above, you’re most likely not going to enjoy Hover at all.