Review by Al Giovetti
Price: $49.95
Genre: futuristic fantasy sports action game
Release: November 1996
Developer: WizBang! Software Productions and Activision
Producer: Louis Peterson
Associate Producer: Sailesh Patel
Publisher: Activision
Phone: 310-473-9200
Demo: http://www.activision.com/hyperblade/ hbdemo.exe
Website: http://www.activision.com/hyperblade/index.html
Requirements: DOS or Windows 95, 2X CD ROM drive, (for full effect use a 3D accelerator card.), 486 DX, 66 MHz (Pentium recommended), 8 MB RAM, 256-color VESA or PCI bus SVGA, mouse (gamepad recommended), 32 to 80 MB free uncompressed hard drive space; DirectX2.0 installed.

History: Activision has a history of innovation and has one of the longest track records extending back into the pre-recorded computer history where the text adventure, such as Zork, and "Star Trek tac toe" predominated, and the word graphics did not yet apply to computer games. hyperbl1.jpg - 32.5 K

Jason mentions the classic game Speedball 2, which I reiviewed on the Atari ST. Jason only remembers the Amiga version, but both games were pretty much the same.

Company line: Heads Will Roll! What's to come in this year's IHL season? With the Las Vegas BlackJack back after more than a decade, the Machine looking respectable for the first time in ages, and the Houston Lone Stars banking on another successful season, this year could see the finest HyperBlade action in years. Take a look at the latest results for all of the gore and action from some incredible play! Listen to interviews with the players and check the latest team standings. Or click on the team icons to the left for Dynamo Dave's comments on each team's shot at the title!

The IHL season got off to a head-severing start with an incredible week of action in Hyperdromes across the planet! The Las Vegas Blackjack made an impressive return to the sport after a decade long hiatus with an 11-2 defeat of the Leeds Knights. After successfully holding the BlackJack to a 2-2 tie going into the third period, the Knights' defense collapsed under the intense and brutal offensive that the Blackjack unveiled during the final period. With 7:43 left on the clock, BlackJack striker Joy Fahren viciously severed the head of Knights' defender Nigel Johnson, sending the crowd into a thunderous ovation. As blood filled the "Jackpot" hyperdrome, Las Vegas took advantage and scored a total of 7 points over the next 4:31 (including a 3 point multiplier goal), leaving Leeds reeling over the loss of longtime player Johnson and wondering where the season will take them!

In other league action, the queue of stretchers was almost as long as the beer and bathroom lines at The Pit hyperdrome where the LA Shockwave crushed the the Moscow T-34s 11-3 in a bloody match that saw the loss of 4 Moscow starters and left Shockwave goalie Devin Ecort with one less digit on his left hand after being shoved into a razor-sharp turnstile by the T-34's Igor Kovalick.

Finally, the Tokyo Ronin are setting their sights high, hoping to finally bring the IHL trophy home to Japan! Their stunning 15-1 victory over the Houston Lone Stars, a relatively bloodless match, left fans hungering for more gore. This game featured Tokyo scoring four amazing 3-point multiplier goals, with Ronin defender Hashimoto Shinichi picking up the first hat-trick of the IHL season! The usually solid Lone Stars had better rope some confidence and a better defense if they hope to survive the season and advance into playoff competition!

Plot: The hockey of the future is fast, brutal, and lethal to the players. The game is still played with a stick but what they do with that stick has changed. And the stick, now called a jack, is metal, not wood like they used to be. And the arena is no loger flat but something like a gigantic torpedo cut in half with a hole for a goal at each pointed end. The sides are straight up, but just like the extreme skaters of today, it is what you do with those sides that count.

Game play: Each player is clad in a custom armor suit painted to the colors of their team. The game is played something like Rollerball, which was a movie with James Caan as the main character. The ball or projectile, called the "rok" is delivered to the goal by means of the "jak" throwing device attached to the players’ arm. The jak has a pointed end and is a sturdy composite material harder than steel that can be used to punish an opponent.

The game has two forwards and a goalie among which the player can switch control. The three dimensional point of view follows the active player in cinematic view with constant change in camera angles. Smart Cam technology follows the game play with multiple camera angles with full 360-degree viewing.

Like a flight simulator and other sports games, Hyperblade has a variety of views to select from: first person, third person, over-the-shoulder, and bird’s eye. Less than the views of many other similar games, these still immerse the player in a wash of fast moving action.

Skater moves include jumps, flips, turns, and skating sequences within the confined space of the arena.

Arenas: There are 12 virtual three dimensional arenas to play in with many different unique layouts of powerups and obstacles, such as jumps, ramps, trenches, bumps, and traps. "HyperBlade’s advanced engine technology has allowed us to replicate real-world conditions within the virtual 3-D arena," explained Louis Peterson, game producer.

Players and teams. There are 12 preset international teams or you can create your own team from 36 different customizable players. Bonus points are awarded mastering certain moves or you can choose to increase team attributes by feats of skill. Each player and thus each team has its own skill levels and player substitutions adds a completely new dimension to the game.

Modes: Play in either league play, tournament play or exhibition modes

Artificial intelligence: A special three dimensional algorithm provides changing strategies with spontaneous, dynamic game play. "Additionally, the game delivers spontaneous gameplay by constantly altering the behavior of each character - except the player character - an continually improvising thousands of new animations. This allows for unpredictable game play, whereby the player is continually challenged by opponents who change strategies mid-stream," explained Peterson.

Graphics: The graphics are high resolution, texture mapped, light sourced, and use thousands of colors. Texture mapping requires a 3D board.

Animation: Over 200 realistic skating maneuvers were created with optical motion capture technology. Actual inline skating champions were filmed doing their greatest tricks to provide maneuvers for the game. The rink has sides that are curved up like a long U-shaped ramp (two quarter pipes) used in competition inline skating and skateboarding. The top of the ramp moves on the edge or rail are some of the most spectacular moves of the game. All skating moves were filmed from actual skaters in a three day video shoot at Pasadena Production Studios. The resulting animation is stunning, fluid and realistic. Bravo.

Voice actors: The announcer commentary is sparse and could be more pronounced. Another feature that would enhance the game would be the players screaming at each other more often to both help the human players with situational awareness and to increase the immersive feel of the game. Currently players seem to shout only when they are defeated or triumphant in minor events in the game. A continual chatter would have been preferred.

Music: The sound design was provided by Soundelux Media Labs who provided the music for True Lies and Bravehart and uses advanced multi-audio processing by Qsound Labs Incorporated. "Sound design was a critical component of the overall game design," says Peterson. "We wanted players to feel the full agony and ecstasy of the . . . bone crunching blows the thrill of winning the championship. A pulse pounding soundtrack and crowds applaud with cheers and jeers."

Multi-player: The game can be played solo or in head to head with up to three other players on a local area network. Null modem (direct serial connectgion), phone modem play and internet play is as yet not supported. Kali does not work with the game, yet either.

Cheats, Hints, and Walkthroughs: HyperBlade Cheats

Journalists: Jason feels that the game is repetitive and predictable given enough time.

The Computer Show television shows:
Show #10, Louis Peterson, Producer, Hyperblade, Activision, Judgement Day, 3:52, 7:31, 9:08
Show #18, Sailesh Patel, Associate Producer, Hyperblade, Activision Studios, 27:42

References: Steve Smith, ZD Net
Jason D'Aprile, Computer and Net Player, volume 3, number 9, February, 1997, pg. 70, 80%