Hyper Zone (ハイパーゾーン, HaipāZōn) is a shooter game developed by HAL Laboratory, Inc. for the Super NES. It was one of the first to be released for the console, and is notably one of the few "rail shooter" type games available. Like many of the system's earlier releases, Hyper Zone made liberal use of the Super Nintendo's outwardly impressive (at the time) mode 7 capability.
Hyper Zone plays like a cross between a racing game and shooter. The object of the game is to navigate each level while shooting enemies and earning points, until finally an encounter with a boss ends each level. After enough points are acquired, the player earns an "extend" and his or her ship is upgraded in the next stage. The player's ship can receive up to six upgrades.
As a racing game, the resemblance is visual. The mode 7 "tracks" bear a resemblance to the well-known progenitor of mode 7 racing, F-Zero. As a rail shooter, in the same vein as Star Fox, the player's ship is constantly pushed forward through each level. While it is possible to slow down, doing so eventually causes damage to the player's ship.
Hyper Zone contains eight levels in total. After the initial game is finished, it restarts from the beginning with the player continuing in the same ship and keeping score; the game loops infinitely.
Hyper Zone bears a striking resemblance to Eliminator, a game released for the Amiga and various 8-Bit computers.[original research?] The game's perspective and its unusual landscapes were inspired by the "Star Gate" sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey (film). The offtrack landscape in the Material Factory (Area 1 in the US/European version, Area 3 in the Japanese version) is a tessellation of flashing tetrominos that resemble those in Tetris; the boss in Area 3 resembles the right part of the SNES controller, and buttons—of the same four colors as the Super Famicom logo—circle around it. Another HAL game, Kirby's Dream Land 3, references this game: the final area in the game is called Hyperzone, and several other areas share names.
The Japanese version is called Hyper Zone, and its logotypes in and out of the game differ from those in the western version. Levels 1 and 3 underwent a graphics swap between the two versions: the level layout and enemy positioning (aside from each boss encounter) is still the same, but the graphics set and background music are different. It is unknown why this was done, as level 1 and 3 end up having bosses that do not fit into their respective color schemes.
The authors of Video Game Bible: 1985-2002 praised the game's "impressive graphics and level design" and called it a cross between Space Harrier and F-Zero, but criticized its short length and "shallow" gameplay. Entertainment Weekly gave the game an "A" rating, summarizing, "With lots of practice, you can learn to forestall annihilation, but when you finally blow up (and believe me, you will finally blow up), it's like reliving every grisly driver's-ed film you saw in high school."
- Slaven, Andy, et al. (2006). Video Game Bible, 1985 - 2002. Trafford Publishing. p. 151. ISBN 978-1-4122-4902-7. http://books.google.com/books?id=oShzmF1Pxc4C&pg=PA151.
- Strauss, Bob (November 1, 1991). Hyper Zone. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2009-12-01
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